Monday, September 13, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/11

Another week has come and gone, and its tide has left me flotsam (or is that jetsam? I never remember which is which) in the form of packages of books. I haven't read any of these yet, but I do hope to read several of them -- and you may be amazed and happy to know about any of them. So here's what I can tell you based on a quick glance and some deep thought, down in my vast basement blogger's paradise:

I'm leading off with Mark Hodder's first novel, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, for two reasons -- first, cover artist Jon Sullivan draws electricity/lightning like nobody's business, and this is a particularly impressive example of what he can do when he's inspired; and, second, it just sounds like a damn fun book. It's a steampunk novel, set in 1861 London (not our history's 1861, of course, but one with a lot more clank and steam), and is the first of what should be a series about those intrepid adventurers, Sir Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Charles Swinburne. That's a particularly odd couple, to be sure, but it's also an unlikely and not obviously reader-attention-driven pairing, so I bet Hodder just thought the two of them would be interesting characters to bounce off of each other. Burton and Swinburne here are investigating the bizarre apparition of the title -- who presumably looks something like the sparky figure on the cover -- and a pack of werewolves that are terrorizing the East End. Pyr has just published Spring Heeled Jack in trade paperback, and you should be able to find it everywhere.

I have Harry Connolly's second novel Game of Cages in front of me because the author sent it to me directly, which is an extremely effectively way to give me some serious guilt about reading a book. (Though it remains to be seen if the guilt will translate into my actually reading the book -- particularly as I notice, right at this moment, that I'm three books behind on both Alastair Reynolds and Carrie Vaughn -- so authors might want to wait and see if this is a successful tactic before following suit.) Game of Cages is a contemporary fantasy about what seems to be an apprentice sorcerer in a secret society -- though the details are more Grand Theft Auto than The Sorcerer's Apprentice, as signposted by the leather jacket on the cover -- and a standalone follow-up to Connolly's first novel, Child of Fire. It was published in August by Del Rey in the mass-market paperback format, and I do hope to find time to read it Real Soon Now.

Also in mass market -- though from DAW in October -- is Mercedes Lackey's standalone Arthurian novel Gwenhwyfar. I've said several times before that I enjoyed many of Lackey's novels more than most people would have expected, and would have considered her "Valdemar" novels guilty pleasures if I'd felt any guilt for liking them. This one looks like Lackey in a more serious mode, emulating Marion Zimmer Bradley to tell an old story in a new way (probably at least mildly neo-pagan and feminist, if the Bradley comparison means anything) and follow King Arthur's queen from her youth through her marriage. If you've never read Lackey, this might be a good one to try.

DAW will also bring out The Magickers Chronicles: Volume Two in October, collecting the third and fourth books in that Emily Drake series (yclept The Dragon Guard and The Gate of Bones) in one handy and hefty mass-market volume. This is the series about a bunch of American kids at a school for magic, so anyone suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal might find this an effective dose of their narcotic of choice.

And DAW will also publish Sherwood Smith's novel Treason's Shore in mass-market in October; this is the fourth of the Inda novels, and longer than the previous 2-in-1 all by itself. (Epic fantasy often seems to be sold by the pound, and, if so, this one will provide readers with more than their money's worth.)

Plenty of people have written sequels, continuations, and re-imaginings of Bram Stoker's Dracula -- aided by the fact that it's been in the public domain, and thus fair game to us all, for a couple of generations -- but only one of them is the author's great-grandnephew! If that impresses you, you'll be glad to know that Dracula The Un-Dead, by Dacre Stoker (possessor of the name and lineage) and Ian Holt (who seems to be the one with the actual writing career, and possibly talent) is coming out in trade paperback from the New American Library in October, with a very red cover, to tell the story of what happened in 1912, a quarter-century after Jonathan Harker staked the old vampire. (I suspect the title is a clue as to what actually does happen in the course of the novel.) NAL, not one to miss a trick, is also bringing out a new edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula -- why not? it's in the public domain, so they can do it as well as anyone else -- with an introduction from ubiquitous Dracula expert Leonard Wolf and a preview of the Dacre Stoker/Ian Holt novel appended. Both books will be in stores October 5th.

And last for this week is a graphic novel being published by NBM's ComicLit imprint in November: The Broadcast by Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon. It's a psychological thriller, set in a small rural town in Indiana on the evening of October 30, 1938. Four families had been listening to a Mercury Theater broadcast on CBS -- without knowing that it was an adaptation of H.G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles -- when the power goes out, unexpectedly, in the middle. After that...I don't know what happens; I guess I'll have to read it and find out!

1 comment:

Harry Connolly said...

I'm torn between my extraordinary discomfort with the idea of making someone feel guilty when they shouldn't and my hope that you'll read my book. Maybe read it for a reason other than guilt? I'm feeling a twinge myself.

I sent it over because of your review of Jim Butcher's Changes included this sentiment: "Changes is the book where... [Harry Dresden] finally has to face up to the fact that his "I'll just save everybody, all of the time" attitude might not be precisely realistic, and that exercising power means hard choices." I'm trying to write a whole series on those hard choices so, with a typical writer's arrogance, I thought that suggested you might like my latest.

If you have time, naturally.

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