Monday, October 18, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/16

I'm far from the only blogger that does this, so you probably know the drill by now: these are the books that showed up in my mail recently (in my case, the previous week), and I haven't read them yet. However, I do want to alert you to them, because I'm nice that way, and because you might be interested in reading one/some/many/all of them.

I'll lead off with Tonoharu: Part Two, the second installment of Lars Martinson's multi-volume graphic novel about a young American teacher in Japan, which will be published by Pliant Press and Top Shelf Productions at the beginning of December. (I reviewed the first volume when it was published, two years ago, for ComicMix.) The back page notes that this is the second of three main parts of Tonoharu, with Appendices and an Epilogue (possibly their own volumes) to follow after that -- another example of how comics creators are forced into playing the long game by the necessities of the form. Anyone with a few hours to spare a day can knock off a five-hundred page novel within a year, but a graphic novel of the same length usually requires many times longer -- an eight-hour day, or longer, for each book page. So raise a glass for your favorite comicker, sometime soon -- he (or she) is probably still at the drawing table at that moment.

To switch gears entirely, I also have the three mass-market paperbacks coming from DAW Books this November:
  • Trolls in the Hamptons, the first novel (and first in a contemporary fantasy series) by Celia Jerome, about a New York graphic novelist whose life is upended when her creations start coming to life. It's also got, as you can see, a really stunning cover from Dan Dos Santos, blending a pseudo-classic-comics background with a great photorealistic foreground.
  • Steampunk'd, the inevitable anthology of random steampunk stories edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg. You know a spec-fic movement or subgenre has arrived when Marty Greenberg starts churning out books about it, and this one has 14 new stories from the usual suspects: Michael A. Stackpole, Jody Lynn Nye, Robert E. Vardeman, and so forth.
  • and The Silver Mage, which is book four of "The Silver Wyrm," but which thankfully is not itself divided into sections named after epic fantasy furniture, all colored silver. It is, in fact, the latest and declaredly last of Katherine Kerr's Deverry novels, which she's been writing steadily (for a devoted and large group of fans) since 1986. This was published in hardcover last year, but you cheap Deverry fans can get it now.
David Moody's third horror novel, Autumn, was apparently turned into a movie before the book hit the shelves. It's also described as "a bastard hybrid of War of the Worlds and Night of the Living Dead," and is yet another book in which 99% of the human race is killed, turned into zombies, and then returned to feast upon the living. I still have a distinct aversion to novels that murder me and my family -- and we're all, last time I checked, among 99% of the human race -- so I don't expect I'll be reading this myself, but, if you have different standards for pleasure reading, you may find this enjoyable. St. Martin's Press has just published Autumn in trade paperback.

The third book of Tad Williams's four-book "Shadowmarch" trilogy [1] hits trade paperback this month as well, called Shadowrise (just as it was in hardcover; I wanted to see if you were paying attention). I note that, in this book, Southmarch Castle is caught between "the ancient, immortal Qar" and "the insane god-king, the Autarch of Xis" -- and, if there's one place you don't want to be, it's between a Qar and a Xis place.

I have not previously read -- or even, honestly, been aware of the existence of -- Erik Craddock's "Stone Rabbit" graphic novels for younger readers, but I now have the fifth one, Ninja Slice, in my hands. I'll have to try it out on my own sons to be sure, but I can't see how it couldn't be awesome: it's the story of one rabbit boy (and his friends) who learn that a new pizza parlor in their town -- which sets out to ruin Grandpa Tortoise's place -- is run by ninjas with a secret agenda. We all know that kids love ninjas and pizza, right? Ninja Slice was published by Random House on September 28th.

Mind Over Ship, the second novel by David Marusek, did not come in the mail; I grabbed it because I had a quick visit to the Tor offices this week. But it's the long-awaited sequel to Counting Heads, which I enjoyed a lot when it was published, and bought for a certain book club as well. (I never officially reviewed it -- I wasn't reviewing books back then, really, due to the whole "selling them for someone else" thing -- but I did talk about it in the middle of my first post about how lousy a SF reviewer Dave Itzkoff was.)

Similarly, while I was in the Tor offices. I had a book called The Unincorporated Man, by brothers Dani and Eytan Kollin, pressed on me. It's a SF novel about a future in which everyone is incorporated at birth, and spends much of their lives trying to gain voting control over themselves. (For those who smell Libertopia, I'll point out that the Kollins do not seem to be entirely in favor of this system.) It was published last April, and I don't recall seeing much about it in the usual SFnal review places.

And last for this week is the new book from the great, inimitable Charles Burns: X'ed Out. It's the first part of a new major graphic story, and, given how slowly Burns works -- see my note above, under Tonoharu -- it's likely to be another couple of years before we see the second part. (His last major work, Black Hole, appeared in comics from from 1993 to 2004 before being collected in 2005.) Any new work from Burns is cause for excitement, and X'ed Out looks to be a particularly odd and unsettling story, about a teenage boy who walks through a hole in his wall to a strange world -- though he may, given that this is Charles Burns, be dreaming or dead or both. Pantheon published X'ed out on October 19th.

[1] Four-book trilogies are quite common in fantasy; George R.R. Martin, for example, has been trying to finish the fifth book of a trilogy for several years now.

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