Monday, October 25, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/23

I had a momentary, nearly overwhelming impulse to quote ELP's "Karn Evil 9" here -- you know the bit -- but I resolutely stifled that impulse in its cradle, and emerged a better man from it. This is my usual Monday-morning post, listing the books I saw in the mail last week, arising from the usual feelings of guilt and obligation.

I haven't read any of these books yet, and there's a very good chance I'll only end up reading a couple of them -- time is short, and there are so many books in the world -- but I can let you know that they exist, which may pique your interest.

AX: Alternative Manga, Vol. 1 is a book I've been looking forward to for most of this year; it's the first in a (we all hope) continuing and successful anthology series reprinting gekiga and other less-commercial Japanese comics for a Western audience. It was edited by Sean Michael Wilson -- a Scotsman resident in Japan who writes both manga themselves and about manga -- and published by Top Shelf, a couple of months back. It has a new Yoshihiro Tatsumi story, plus works by a couple of dozen creators whose work I don't know. I'm looking forward to this like nothing since Frederik Schodt's old Manga! Manga! back in the '80s: Japanese comics is reasonably well mapped for American audiences now -- at least the major continents of shojo and shonen are pretty well known -- but this book comes from a gigantic Terra Incognita on that map, and that's exciting.

Also from Top Shelf, as part of their Swedish Invasion earlier this year -- along with Simon Gardenfors's The 120 Days Of Simon, which I reviewed recently -- is Mats Jonsson's Hey Princess. It's another one of those young-guy-moves-to-the-big-city stories, an autobiographical piece about going to college, learning to relate to girls, and all of those other vital things that seem so important at the time.

Top Shelf also sent me Will Dinski's Fingerprints, the first book from an acclaimed minicomics creator. As far as I can tell, it's about celebrities and cosmetic surgery, which is different enough to be intriguing all by itself.

Pamela Sargent's 1983 novel Earthseed -- a SF story for young readers -- has belatedly become a trilogy, with 2007's Farseed and Seed Seeker, publishing on November 25th as a Tor hardcover. Each volume moved another generation further in the story of a sapient starship (Ship) that deposited a colony on a faraway world (Home) and then left, promising to come back eventually. In Seed Seeker, the colonists have been divided for many years, into the River People, who hunt and fish for survival, and the Dome People, who maintain the old high technology and wait for the return of Ship. But now there's a new light in the sky -- some among the River People think that it's Ship returning, but the Dome People are keeping silent on the subject. So one young woman -- you know a book is YA when the big jobs are handed off to random teenagers -- decides to find out for herself what's really going on.

Joel Shepherd's "Trial of Blood and Steel" series reaches its third and penultimate volume with Tracato, coming in trade paperback from Pyr tomorrow. (The first book was Sasha; and you should probably start there if you're interested.) It's a big fantasy series set in an intricate invented world -- but I haven't read any of them, so I can't tell you any more about the details than that.

Also from Pyr this month is Pierre Pevel's The Cardinal's Blades, which is doubly interesting: it won the 2010 David Gemmel Morningstar Award for best fantasy newcomer, and it was originally written in French (and translated by Tom Clegg). We don't see a whole lot of translated fantasy in the US -- there's been a minor boom in books from the Russian, recently, led by Sergey Lukyanenko, but not a whole lot else -- so that's exciting. And the book itself also sounds like a lot of fun: a Three Musketeers-esque race through an alternate 17th century France, with Cardinal Richelieu's hand-picked men as the only hope for France. It also has a great cover from Jon Sullivan -- everything looks really good for this one.

And last for this week is the one that can help keep the drafts out all winter -- the massive conclusion of Tad Williams's epic fantasy quartet "Shadowmarch," Shadowheart. It's coming in hardcover from DAW at the beginning of December, and it follows over two thousand pages of intricate epic fantasy plotting (which I haven't read), so I'll, once again, do myself a favor and not try to summarize something I don't know.

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