Monday, December 05, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/3

Here are the things you should know already, if you've been reading these Monday posts and paying attention:
  • These are all books that came in the mail to Yr. Humble Correspondent, G.B.H. Hornswoggler
  • They were sent by publicists at various publishing houses, in the hopes that I would review those books and shower praise upon them [1]
  • I have not read a single word of any of them
  • I may never (sadly, oh so sadly) read a single word of some of these books -- life is short, and the stacks of books are very tall.
So, since the world relies on information, here is the closest thing to information that I can provide for the five books that showed up in my mailbox last week. Any errors or casual insults (intended or unintended) are entirely my fault. But perhaps one of these could be your very favorite book of the next year:

A Discovery of Witches -- the first book in a trilogy about witches and vampires and enchanted manuscripts, a #2 New York Times bestseller, which despite all that you will not find in the section of the bookstore with the little rocketship and wizard logos -- is coming in paperback on December 27th from Penguin, so that several dozen more of your book-club-belonging friends (the ones who say that they never read fantasy or SF) can love it to death and insist that you have to read it. The author is Deborah Harkness, and I hope to find a chance to read it -- when this stuff is published outside of our usual snug community, it's always interesting to see if it's a long-lost sister, a distant cousin, or some even more distant relation to the books we usually read.

Karl Schroeder is up to the fifth book of his "Virga" series -- it began with Sun of Suns, and is set in a gigantic artificial balloon world, full of people and air and water and a few rocks, an entirely free-fall environment -- and I sadly have to admit I've read none of them. (I was holding the first couple at the bookclub for a possible omnibus, and then Things Happened.) #5 is Ashes of Candesce, coming in hardcover from Tor in February, and, from the description on the back cover of the bound galley sitting in front of me, I do believe this is the big finale. (So those of you harrumphing that you don't ever start to read series that aren't completed, it's time to pull out Sun of Suns and get started.)

I saw Nested Scrolls -- the autobiography of Rudy Rucker, SF/transrealist/unclassifiable writer, professor of math and computer science, and all-around wild man -- a few month back, in proofs, and that copy is still probably lurking halfway down in one of those many piles of books that currently surround me. The book itself is publishing December 6th -- from Tor, in hardcover -- and now that final form has reached me, as well. I still want to read it, so, if I'm being optimistic, I now have double the chance of doing so.

Ian McDonald's first book officially for younger readers -- I'm sure some of his earlier books, maybe Desolation Road or Terminal Cafe or River of Gods, were read by people under eighteen, but this one is specifically marketed to them -- is Planesrunner, the first in an SF series called Everness, set in various alternate earths. It's coming from Pyr -- which I did not know published books for young readers, but good for them -- in hardcover on December 6th (which you may now by its alternate name, tomorrow.)

And last for this week is the latest (and 22nd) book in the "Graphic Classics" series edited by Tom Pomplun and published by his Eureka Productions: African-American Classics. As usual, this volume has a bunch of stories and poems -- 23, this time -- by noted literary names (typically those long-dead enough to be in the public domain) adapted into comics and illustrated stories by a mixture of top comics names, more artistic folks, and newer talents. And so this book has works by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles W. Chesnutt, and others adapted by Kyle Baker, Trevor Von Eeden, Milton Knight, Lance Tooks (not at all respectively). It's a finished book now, so I imagine it's making its way to stores and other retailers right at this very moment.

[1] I see that the poor tortured soul who blogs at OF Blog of the Fallen has once again gotten himself twisted into knots about the proprieties of blogging and the very few actions that are acceptable to his exceptionally strict moral code, considering that the mere receipt of consumer goods possibly costing a few dollars irrevocably tarnishes his reputation and forces him into bondage until he produces a suitably laudatory paean of glory to the bound galley at hand. In this, as in so many other things, he is a very silly, very unworldly creature, and the proper response is to pat him lightly on the head and let him go sit in the corner sucking on an piece of rock-candy while the adults discuss important things.

(He might, first of all, note that one of the great rules we all learn early in life is that just because other people want us to do something, we are not obligated therefore to do it. If he still believes otherwise, his life must be very complicated.)


James Davis Nicoll said...

The Planesrunner cover is giving me a serious '80s flashback, I think to the covers of The Snow Queen and The Summer Queen.

Gail O'Connor said...

If A Discovery of Witches were published as genre, it would be a third shorter, and much better for it.

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