Monday, May 02, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/30

During the last week of April, I got stuff in the mail in the hopes that I would read it and review it here. (I've said it before, but it bears repeating: despite everything, this world does have a decent share of awesomeness.) I haven't read them yet, but here's what I can tell you about them, despite that handicap:

Embassytown is the new novel by China Mieville, coming as a hardcover from Del Rey on May 17th. And it's a science fiction novel -- his first, unless you have a really good argument about The City & The City. In fact, it looks like another angle on the cluster of concerns that motivated City & City -- it's set in a city uneasily shared shared by two groups, on an alien world far in the future. And the action of this novel seems to begin with the arrival of a new group of humans, which will shift the balance of power. Mieville has always been deeply interested in cities -- their governance, communities, their wonders and terrors -- so it will definitely be interesting to see him translate that into a SFnal milieu.

The Chaos Crystal is the fourth and last in Jennifer Fallon's "Tide Lords" series, about one of a group of Immortals who has been trying -- for longer than the human race has been around -- to finally die. I've read some of Fallon's earlier novels (though not this series, sadly), and she's got a great grasp of character and a broad scope -- she writes big fantasy books that aren't just about the same people doing many different things in a row, but of many people doing many things, just like a real world. This one will be published by Tor US in hardcover on May 10th; Fallon is Australian, so it's probably already available at her end of the globe, and might just have hit the rest of the Commonwealth as well. (If you haven't read the series at all, I expect the best place to begin would be the first book, The Immortal Prince.)

Also from Tor in hardcover on the very same day is probably the most anticipated SF debut novel since at least Counting Heads -- Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief. I've been hearing about Rajaniemi and this novel for a few years now, so I hope it lives up to the advance notice. I'm also amused to see that Rajaniemi's day-job is as "director of a think tank that provides business services based on advanced math and artificial intelligence," which runs around and through several of the things I deal with at my own day-job out at the financial end of business publishing. In any case, Quantum Thief looks like a romp through a colorful and distinctive future, with a larger-than-life figure at its center -- exactly the kind of book that SF always needs more of (especially if it is as good as I expect it to be).

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