Monday, November 29, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/27

Last week was wonderful in the land of Hornswoggler -- two days of work (and not terribly onerous work, either, since all of the usual meetings were cancelled) and five of vacation, a reversal of the usual pattern that I wish I'd have a chance to get used to. The coming week looks to be busier, but probably more interesting as well -- and who wants to lounge around the house all day anyway?

As always, a week brought mail, and some of that mail was packages of books. Below, I'll list those books, in as much detail as I can figure out, in the hopes some of them will look exciting to some of you. I haven't read any of them yet, though this first book looks particularly good to me:

Ayako is the latest of Vertical's English translations of major adult graphic novels from the massive (and wonderful) backlist of the godfather of manga, Osamu Tezuka. It follows the chilling MW (my review), the shocking Apollo's Song (my review), and the exciting Ode to Kirihito (my review), and I'm hoping that it's just as good as those three. It's certainly a major work by one of the greatest names in 20th century comics, so its publication (officially tomorrow, in hardcover) is an event. If you read comics, and haven't checked out Tezuka's adult work yet, take a look at it, or one of the three books I mentioned above -- he's much more than just Astro Boy.

Sometimes you want to read a steampunk book. And sometimes you want to read a sword and sorcery book. But what about the times you want to read both? Either you have to train your eyeballs to track different pages simultaneously, or you have to switch back and forth -- neither option being all that palatable. But now you can have both in one book: Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin, the story of Eva Forge, the last Paladin of the Dead God, Morgan, and the technologically advanced city of Ash, built after Morgan's brother Amon killed him. It's a brilliant idea, the kind that makes you (well, me) smile uncontrollably, and the book just has to be a hoot, since it was written by the man who had that idea. Pyr is publishing it in trade paperback this week -- you can go buy it right this second, if the mash-up of steampunk and S&S sounds as good to you as it does to me.

Pyr has also been reprinting the heroic fantasy novels of the British writer James Barclay -- they've run through his "Chronicles of the Raven" trilogy over the past year, and now it's time for the sequel trilogy "Legends of the Raven." (The Raven is a mercenary band -- the best at what they do, which isn't pretty, and so forth; you know the drill -- in a multi-racial fantasy world, and was memorably described as "five men and an elf," which is how I have thought of them since then. However, since they are a mercenary company, I'm pretty sure people die/join/quit now and then, so they may not be permanently five men and an elf.) The first book of "Legends" is Elfsorrow, which Pyr is publishing in trade paperback tomorrow, and the second book is Shadowheart [1], coming a mere two weeks later, in med-December.

Last for this week is a neat book from Drawn & Quarterly about an interesting -- and, up until recently, utterly forgotten -- New York cartoonist. Denys Wortman's New York collects nearly three hundred drawings from Metropolitan Movies -- a slice-of-life strip he drew for the New York World for thirty years starting in 1924 -- and elsewhere by Wortman, arranged as if they showcased one single day in the life of the city, from the earliest morning to the end of the night. I'm all for rediscovering lost masters, and Wortman's art looks particularly expressive and evocative. New York will hit stores in December -- and that's right around the corner, so you might be able to find it already, if you take a close look.

[1] Which title Barclay put on his book some time before it was published in the UK back in 2003, so any Johnnie-come-latelies using that title for the fourth books of their epic fantasy trilogies are owed a furrowed brown and a mildly disapproving glance. Then again, titles can't be copyrighted so we all could call our next books Shadowheart if we wanted to. And that would be totally awesome, actually -- can you image if every major novel published in 2011 was called Shadowheart? I can just see the Hugo ballot now....

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