Monday, December 20, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/18

This time of year, book publishing tends to slow to a crawl, partially because we all want to take some vacation time at the end of the year (and some houses actually still have the traditional break for Christmas week) and partially because we all had to get books out into the market almost two months ago if we had any hope of selling them to people before the holidays. So I'm not surprised that last week and this were light for mail -- and, since that means I have to spend less time in my basement on a Sunday morning, it's a pleasant break as well.

But I did get these two books over the past few days, which prove that not everyone in book publishing is slacking off just yet -- I haven't read either of them yet, but here's what I can tell you about them:

Mike Resnick's The Buntline Special is a steampunky western novel set in an 1881 where powerful Indian magic stopped the US's expansion cold at the Mississippi -- and so the US is sending Thomas Edison to Tombstone, Arizona to try to subvert that barrier to Manifest Destiny. Protecting Edison are Wyatt Earp and his brothers, and arrayed against them are Geronimo, the Clanton gang, and a clanky cyborg called The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo [1]. I gather from the description that we're meant to be rooting for Edison, and thus the wholesale destruction of the civilized nations of half the continent in the pursuit of more land and gold for Eastern plutocrats -- but I could be wrong, and steampunk does have a complicated relationship with the tough moral questions of the 19th century (to put it mildly). The Buntline Special was published by Pyr in trade paperback at the beginning of this month.

Coming up in April is Shadow Chaser, the second book in "The Chronicles of Siala" by Alexey Pehov, continuing the epic fantasy series from Russia and following up Shadow Prowler. It looks to be of the "small band against the world" subcategory -- possibly more Abercrombie than Tolkien -- and it's got a suitably dark and ominous cover. Tor will publish it in hardcover in April (as I just said), but you can pick up the first book in paperback right now to get ready for it.

[1] Presumably a different Johnny Ringo than the modern writer of "Oh John Ringo No" fame.

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