Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Greetings from High Above the Fabulous Las Vegas Strip!

I just spent the last hour cursing and trying to populate my other blog (Editorial Explanations, check it out regularly...just not right now, since there won't be any new posts until I can get back to a real computer), without much luck. The sticking point is images -- I can't seem to get them into the posts using my iPad, and that's all the computer I brought this time out.

This is deeply frustrating, since I know that I was able to blog -- including images, though the layout got a bit wonky -- last year from my conferences, and I hate to think that I've gotten technologically dumber in the past year. (I'm going to blame software updates, and not my fallible memory, if anyone asks.)

Anyway, I'm here in Las Vegas -- that most quintessentially American city, where everything is larger and flashier than a healthy person would want it to be -- and it, as usual, exacerbates my usual grumpy tendencies. I don't like people much to begin with, and, in Vegas, there are so many loathesome types of people -- ball-capped yahoos, pneumatic young women on the make, dull middle-aged losers on expense accounts, and far more corn-fed god-fearing middle Americans with kids in tow than I would have expected. (Especially in a casino hotel whose room keys promote its topless beach club.) I recognize that this is entirely my problem, but that doesn't actually help much.

The conference went well, as such things go: it's embarassing but wonderful to see how many financial professionals (here at IMA and at other shows, like last week's ACFE) know and respect Wiley as a publisher; they know our name and associate it with authoritative content and useful works, which is a tremendous compliment and goad to live up to those expectations. (Now, if only everyone were buying books the way they were a few years back, everything would be hunky-dory.)

Tomorrow is one of those unfortunate days eaten up entirely by travel that happen when going from left coast to right; my flight isn't until 11-something, so I don't get into JFK airport until nearly 8, so the day will be just about a total loss.

Now, I expect none of you actually care about any of this -- except perhaps my mother, who does read this blog; Hi, Mom! -- but inaction feeds on inaction as action feeds on action, so I want to get my fingers typing into this little Blogger box more often again, and build from there back to something worth reading. (I've got a long essay that's been half-written for nearly year; I need to get back to that, and everything else I want to do.)

I could waste time and space here attempting to be lyrical about the planes taking off from McCarran -- I can see it out of my 31st-floor window -- and the helicopters that similarly never stop buzzing by, and the mountains in the distance, and the city and suburbs bracketed by those landmarks, but I think I've rambled pointlessly long enough. The next blog entry should be from a real computer, back in my home, and, with any luck, it will also have more substance than this one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/23

This is the second week in a row which sees me jetting off to exotic locations early on Sunday morning, and so typing up these notes a day early. (And, along the way, becoming the latest excuse for Why I'm Blogging So Little Lately -- excuse #2 these days is Lego Batman 2.)

Luckily, it's a short pile this week, so this should be quick -- unless there's a flood in the late mail delivery, which would be awesome and annoying at the same time. (There should be one word for that sensation -- awe-noying? annoysome? -- because the English language needs more bizarre portmanteau words to make purists grind their teeth in anger.)

These two books both came in this last week. I haven't read either of them -- and, looking at them, neither looks like my usual kind of thing, to be honest -- but perhaps one or both of them will be your favorite book of 2012, so I'll try to be honest, fair, and only mildly sarcastic.

First up is a horror novel from the wonderfully named David Moody, Them or Us. It's the conclusion to the "Hater" trilogy, also including the novels Hater and Dog Blood, about a deeply crapsack near future in which some sufficient reason has changed a large portion of the human race into "Haters," who apparently spend all of their time either killing the Unchanged or fighting with each other for dominance. (I find dystopias, especially horror dystopias, intensely dull.) Them Or Us was originally published in hardcover last November, but the trade paperback edition will be available on July 17th from Thomas Dunne Books.

Speaking of crapsack post-apocalypse near futures -- and we seem to be doing nothing else in the fields of spec-fic these days, leaving me grumpy and disconnected -- I also have in hand an anthology called 21st Century Dead, edited by Christopher Golden. And, yes, it's another collection of stories about zombies -- all originals in this one, 19 of them from folks including Orson Scott Card, Dan Chaon, Chelsea Cain, Jonathan Maberry, Simon R. Green, and Amber Benson. This one is from Griffin (a different imprint of the same company that publishes Them Or Us), and will also arrive in stores on July 17th.

And, if someone could explain the appeal of written zombie fiction -- in a way that I'd actually accept -- I would be...well, probably annoyed, actually, since I'd prefer to keep complaining in a quizzical manner, and an explanation would throw a spanner into that.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/16

By the time you read this, I'll be far away, in another state, cheerfully manning a booth at the annual meeting of the ACFE. But the mail continues on, no matter what else goes on in the world, and so there are books to write about. All of these arrived in my mailbox over the past week, and I haven't read a single one of them yet. So what I'm about to tell you is compounded from educated guesswork, prior knowledge, and whatever publicity materials the various publishers saw fit to include in their packages.

But here's what I've got:

Lou Anders's [1] Pyr sent me a couple of things, including Ari Marmell's False Covenant, the second novel (after Thief's Covenant) in a secondary-world Young Adult fantasy series about a thief who calls herself Widdershins (she's young; what can you expect?). It's the kind of book that has a Church with a capital C, and a Thieves' Guild with a capital TG, not to mention a Guard ditto. It's been available in hardcover since early June.

Also from Pyr is Hunter and Fox, by Philippa Ballantine. (No relation, apparently.) This is another epic fantasy with a lot of Capitalized Names -- Hunter, Kindred -- and made-up names -- Vaerli, Casiah, Talyn, Byre -- and more than the recommended dose of angst and protagonist-torture (she "lost her people and her soul working for the man who was their destruction," to be precise). It came out in trade paperback last week -- but UK readers may find it familiar, since it was originally published there in 2006. (So how did the series turn out, O UK readers?)

The Young Adult graphic novel trilogy called "Resistance" -- about teens in France during WWII, with a focus you can probably guess from the series title -- concludes with Victory, publishing in July from First Second. (It's written by Carla Jablonski and illustrated by Leland Purvis, like the first two volumes.) I reviewed the first one, Resistance, here during my last run of Book-A-Day in early 2010. (And I still have the second book, Defiance, sitting on my you-really-should-read-these-soon shelves.)

And from the fine folks at Vertical comes GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, Vol. 3, a side-story to the popular Great Teacher Onizuka manga by the original creator Toru Fujisawa.

Grant Morrison's paean to all things superheroic and Morrisonian, Supergods, was published to general acclaim and strong sales last year, so it's time for it to hit paperback -- and so it does, in a new Spiegel & Grau edition coming on June 26. I didn't read it in hardcover -- it would be more accurate to say I deliberately avoided it in hardcover, since I suspected I would have Strong Views about it -- but now a copy is in my home, and so alea iacta est.

Andrea Cremer wrote what her publisher describes as the "internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy," so I feel kinda bad to say that I've never heard of it. (On the other hand, I haven't heard about a lot of things -- and, since Cremer writes for teens, I have a built-in excuse for not hearing about here.) Anyway, Cremer is following up that trilogy with a new prequel, Rift, which I have sitting in front of me right this second, even though it won't publish (from Penguin) until August. Rift is some kind of supernatural story -- with a healthy dollop of romance, if I know my YA trends -- about a feisty heroine. I'm not entirely sure of the setting, though, and the book isn't much help -- I'm going to guess that it's late-medieval (historical fantasy division), but it could easily be secondary-world, alternate-history, or something even more baroque than those possibilities.

From Amazon's new SFnal imprint, 47North, comes No Peace for the Damned, the first novel by Megan Powell. It's a contemporary fantasy with secret groups wielding supernatural powers, but I'm not getting an urban fantasy vibe from it -- it looks more like early Stephen King (Dead Zone or Carrie). The heroine, Magnolia, escaped from her horrifying family and immediately was captured by a mysterious organization devoted to stopping people like (exactly like) her horrible family. Of course, it's not utterly unlike modern urban fantasy -- the back cover copy hints of a romance for Magnolia, as well. This is available from Amazon -- and any other retailers willing to collude in their own demise -- in July.

Also from 47North is B.V. Larson's Technomancer, a cross between that old chestnut, the waking-up-with-amnesia book, and the supernatural-investigator book, as epitomized by Jim Butcher. Quentin Draith -- supernatural investigators always have pretentious names! -- wakes up in a creepy private hospital, under the care of people who don't mean him well, and must reclaim his identity as an investigator (and blogger, I chuckle to note) of the supernatural, and re-learn his particular secret special powers. It's the first in a series called "Unspeakable Things," and it'll be out in July.

[1] Pardon me -- Hugo Award-winning editor Lou Anders's

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Three Things Make a Post

Thing the First: Holidays
I hope you all had a happy Bloomsday, and are looking forward to a particularly festive Juneteenth.

For myself, this is one of the less impressive Father's Days I've had, since I had to get up at oh-dark-hundred to get to the airport for an 8 AM flight to lovely Orlando. (And, as long as I'm complaining, let me mention that I'll miss Thing 1's 8th-grade graduation ceremony on Tuesday, as well.) Woe, woe is me; I am made of woe. Someone pass me some ashes, and give me a hand over here rending my garments.

Thing the Second: Automobiles
Down here in Orlando, I'm driving a Ford something-or-other (whatever the full-size car is these days) that's probably supposed to be wine-colored, or dark purple, or something along those lines. But, to me, it looks exactly like the color of a bruise.

I'll try to get a picture of it with my iPod camera, and upload that once I'm back home.

I don't mind it as a car -- it's bigger than I'm used to, and the back window is too small, but it gets the job done. It's just that the color is more and more disconcerting as I go on; it's looking more and more thuggish by the moment.

Thing the Third: Amateurs
I never hate humanity more than when I fly, and the higher the proportion of people who don't know how to fly, the worse it is. Being stuffed into a metal tube with a hundred strangers is bad enough, but when those stranger don't even understand metal-tube etiquette, it's much worse.

I was particularly annoyed at the family who didn't realize that their toddler would be much happier sucking on something (to help pop the tyke's delicate ears) on the descent -- and even the kid knew what would help, since the rugrat was clearly screaming "baba" all the way down. The baby was in pain, and all the rest of us were annoyed -- perhaps it's a minor failure of parenting, but it's still a failure.

Amateur flyers don't know how to get on or off planes, or how (and when) to sit down. They don't know how to move through an airport. They never get out of anyone's way.

And I am now in Orlando, the Mecca of the amateur flyer, staying at a tourist hotel and commuting to a conference in a giant hotel/convention center that's about half tourist itself.

The only bright point is that I can remember last year, when this conference was at the end of a two-week, three-conference death march across the USA. This year, I'm only doing two of the three, and I get to go home for a few days in between.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Molasses Search Detail

So one of my many excuses for not blogging more is that my home computer -- that should be "my," since there's also The Wife's laptop, the Mac used by the boys, and the even older Mac that's officially The Wife's but doesn't get used much, all in the same house, and for all of which I'm all the tech support they get -- is running very slowly a lot of the time lately.

I've been trying to figure out the problem -- today I ran a big virus scan, which didn't turn up anything serious -- and have decided that it's one of the three programs I have running pretty much all the time. (Well, the other possible reason is that the machine -- a 3.06 GHz Mac i3 with 4GB of memory running OS 10.6.8 -- is just too old and slow, but the boys' Mac seems to be doing pretty well, and it's about three years older. And I'm really just using it for websurfing, blogging, and other highly non-processor-intensive tasks.)

So the three possible culprits are:
  • Firefox, which used to be a great, stable browser with wonderful plug-ins, but has turned into a weekly-updated house of horrors that freezes for minutes on end for no clear reason. (I'm on the beta update channel, so maybe I just need to step back to a stable version -- but, even there, they're updating the damn thing almost every month, which is way too often for a browser.) I'm currently on 14.0 beta 6, for my sins.
  • Entourage, my e-mail program -- the problem here is possibly the opposite of Firefox, since I'm still on Office 2004 (and I don't really feel like spending $200 to update to something that I'll mostly use to work on documents for my job).
  • And then iTunes, which takes about five minutes to open each day, while it's doing something. (I suspect it's checking every single song in my library -- and there's over 23,000 of them -- for signs of piracy.) If this is the problem, I really don't know what to do -- I'm pretty locked-in to Apple's plug-and-play music ecosystem, with two iPods and an iPad.
I don't seriously expect anyone out there to have an answer -- though I more and more suspect it's Firefox, and that I should shift over to Safari and see how that works. (I already use Chrome and Opera for browsing occasionally, and have radically different sets of bookmarks in each of those.)  I think I even still have Mozilla installed, though I bet that hasn't been updated in a long time.

No, really, I'm just venting, since I am a blogger and that is what we do. This also looks like content to a cursory glance, and I have been feeling guilty about how empty Antick Musings has been recently. But commiseration and/or suggestions are certainly welcome.

Friday, June 15, 2012

When Is Spam Not Spam?

So I recently [1] had an apologetic e-mail from someone I suspect may be a fellow marketer.

He was trying to promote a project, and hired an Internet marketing company to do that...and, only later, he learned that by "promote" they meant "spam on unrelated places in not-particularly-useful ways." And so he was running around, apologizing for those spammy bits of outreach and asking for them to be taken down. (I've just deleted the comment in question.)

That particularly mildly spammy comment had slipped by me, so I went to check it out, and found it was a link to an infographic on the History of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Now, neither the original apologetic guy nor his too-slipshod Internet marketers apparently know this, but I, too, am a marketer, and one area I work in is supply chain management.

So, yes, I was spammed, since the link wasn't related to the topic of this blog. (Whatever that is on any given day.) But I was pointed at an well-crafted resource, in an area which is not uninteresting to me.

So then the question becomes: was that link actually spam, since I was interested in it once I noticed it? And is there a fuzzy border, where spammy content bumps up against content-y spam, and nothing is quite clearly one or the other?

[1] "Recently," in this context, means "about a month ago." E-mails often sit in my inbox to simmer in their own juices for far too long.

A Little Levity for a Friday

These may not actually be the absolute 10 Worst Book Covers in the History of Literature, but they're definitely on the shortlist.

My favorite is right here:

Double Penetrator! Try to tell me that was inadvertent! Just try!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Movie Log: Catching Up Once Again

I haven't seen a movie in over a month -- at this point, I'm paying Netflix a substantial sum so I can hold onto a copy of The Descendants in case of emergency -- and I'm still a dozen movies behind. So it must be time for another speed round. Here's what I can recall about the movies I've seen in the last six months or so:

We saw Bad Teacher and Horrible Bosses within a week, and don't they just sound like they deserve to be reviewed together? Of course they do. And they're very similar movies: medium-dumb comedies with a lot of earthy humor and just enough titillation to ensure an R-rating. Horrible Bosses is the better of the two, with an ensemble of good actors all having fun and selling the premise -- Strangers on a Train, only they're already friends and want to be rid of their respective supervisors -- pretty well. Bad Teacher is louder and even less subtle, relying primarily on Cameron Diaz's willingness to be unlikable in a horribly wonderful way, and the title is the pitch: she's a really, really rotten teacher, and a worse human being, but (as all protagonists must in modern movies) she Comes To Learn Better by the last reel.

The fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, On Stranger Tides, has very little of the excellent Tim Powers novel that supplied its title visible. (Probably the most Powersian thing is that an important mermaid is named Serena -- yes, that's how much of the novel survived.) It's better than the flabby second and third movies, with some good scenery-chewing work from Ian McShayne, Penelope Cruz, and (of course) Johnny Depp, and decent action-movie set-piece scenes. But the Lego video game is much, much better.

I nominated Paul for the Hugo last year. It's not that good, honestly, but it was pleasant, and it was an honest-to-God SF movie that I actually saw. And it's not like I have so much respect for the Dramatic Presentation Hugo in the first place, so I'd be happy if it went to pleasant junky entertainment rather than to equally junky entertainment that fans believe is Important and Meaningful. Seth Rogen doing fart jokes in voice-over is what should win that Hugo, in my mind.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is a good movie that hasn't stuck much in my mind; it had a complicated structure (that didn't seem complicated while watching -- a good sign), a passel of fine actors doing mostly subtle work (the big brawl scene being the major counter-example), and stories that were both about and appealed to grownups. There should be more movies like that.

Friends With Benefits was yet another one of those they-start-fucking, he-wants-to-have-a-relationship, she-balks-and-acts-fratboyish comedies that are popping up like weeds. (The best, so far, is the one with Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs, because the girls actually has a good reason there, the plot is specific rather than generic, and the sex scenes are actually sexy.) FWB was a perfectly cromulent date movie, particularly for the younger folks, but nothing more than that.

The Muppets, on the other hand, was totally wonderful and fun, in that inimitable Muppet manner. It has excellent cameos, a great sense of humor about itself and everything else, and could have been perfect if it weren't quite so Mary Sue-ish and the main Muppet character so colorless.

Harry Potter 8 -- don't expect me to type out the full, far-too-long title -- finally ended the series, with lots of action and Mr. Potter acting just as dull and mildly stupid and thoughtless as in the books (and as like far too many real teenagers, I suppose). It's a thing, and that thing is now finally over. Kids 5-10 years older than my sons will be obsessing about these movies for the rest of their lives, which kinda sucks for them, but they're gonna obsess about something, right?

Midnight in Paris is another movie I nominated for the Hugo, and wanted to win (as much as I wanted anything to win that award). I haven't kept up with Woody Allen's movies the way I'd have liked -- some day I need to sit down and run through all of them in order; that would be a great project -- but he's always a smart, thoughtful filmmaker, and stories about stories and art tend to bring out his better tendencies. And Owen Wilson is just fun to watch -- I don't know what it is about him and that marble-mouthed, loose-limbed slacker sensibility, but he just makes the movies he's in more enjoyable just by being there.

50/50 is a Message Movie about a Serious Thing, and also a comedy, which made for some tonal whiplash. It's somewhat above the level of a Lifetime Movie of the Week, but not so far that you couldn't see it from there.

Three and Out was a fun little British movie about a London underground driver who accidentally kills two people with his train (both suicides), and then is told that, if he hits a third within a month, he hits the subway-driver lottery, and is pensioned off with a nice package to assuage his presumed broken spirit. So he sets off in search of that third person to kill...and the movie gets more conventional and less black-comic than I was hoping, since he finds that candidate in Colm Meaney, who wants one last piss-up weekend before he jumps in front of the cow-catcher. I'm afraid this movie has Life Lessons as well, but it's pretty good despite that.

Quote of the Day

"If state and local governments had followed the pattern of the previous two recessions, they would have added 1.4 million to 1.9 million jobs and overall unemployment would be 7.0 to 7.3 percent instead of 8.2 percent."
- Ben Polak and Peter K. Schott, "America's Hidden Austerity Program"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Terry Goodkind to Self-Publish

Publishers Weekly reports today that Terry Goodkind will self-publish his next book, The First Confessor, in July.

No word about format, pricing, or retailers, but one assumes that you'll be able to get it, somehow, from that big online bookstore named after a river. (The title leads me to assume it's a prequel to the "Sword of Truth" books, but I could very easily be wrong; I haven't read any of them in quite a while.)

Goodkind is famously...how can I put this delicately?...perfectionist in his dealings with publishing companies, so perhaps he will be happier being his own production manager, copyeditor, marketing director, publicist, cover artist, shipping coordinator, editor, publisher, shipping clerk and general factotum. Good luck to him, I suppose: the most successful self-published authors tend to be those that already have an established audience, and "multiple New York Times bestseller" is definitely an established audience.

(Other things that characterize highly successful self-publishers, which may be less germane to Goodkind: being female, writing romance, being highly and directly engaged with one's readers.)

The Uncut, Unbelievably Awkward Elevator Scene from “Return of the Jedi”

What it says on the tin, from Francesco Marciuliano, writer of the Sally Forth comic strip (and other stuff, too).

It's funny, it's flat pictures, and it's geeky: what more could you want?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/9

Here comes another week, I'm afraid -- but, before it really gets started (at least in my time zone), here's a short listing of books that arrived in my mailbox last week, with my hopes that one or more of them will be so appealing to you that it will automatically brighten your outlook and get you whistling a happy tune.

(Results not typical, or guaranteed. Consult your physician if whistling a happy tune persists for more that four hours.)

David Brin is back with his first new novel in a decade (Kiln People was way back in 2002), Existence. It's a big near-future novel with many viewpoint characters and what may be an Enigmatic Alien Artifact -- so my guess is that this is Brin back in Earth-mode, concerned with the future of mankind, privacy, life in the universe, and similar weighty topics. It's coming as a Tor hardcover on the 19th.

I also have July's paperbacks from DAW books, and there's a momentous change: there's only two of them. There's the usual reprint from a 2011 hardcover, and a brand-new novel, but, for the first time in I-don't-want-to-bother-to-look-up-how-long, there's no anthology from the Tekno Books mills of Green Bay. Time will only tell if this is a momentary hiccup in the pipeline, or the beginning of the end. (Well, asking someone at DAW would probably also provide some sort of answer, but I'm just a guy blogging his mail, not a reporter!)

Anyway, the two DAW mass-markets for next month include Diana Rowland's Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues, the second in the contemporary fantasy series that began with My Life as A White Trash Zombie. And, yes, they're about a young female zombie -- who still has most of her own brains, despite her desire for eating brains -- who is not overly refined. (That's her, presumably, on the cover.)

And the other DAW paperback this month is Citadels of the Lost by Tracy Hickman, the second in the epic "Annals of Drakis" series. (The first book was Song of the Dragon.) It's an epic fantasy series, of course, with a cruel elf empire, plucky human slaves battling long odds, and, most definitely, dragons.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Incoming Books: BEA Edition

This past week was the big US-based book-industry trade show, Book Expo America -- as usual these days, held in the ever-dumpier Javitz Convention Center way over on the seedy fringe of Midtown Manhattan -- and I was required to attend and man the booth by my employer, a big publishing company.

I've been to BEA for most of the last decade -- I was too junior, and at a company entirely separated from the bookstore market, for the first decade of my career to get a BEA badge then -- but this year was the first time I was officially given booth duties. (In fact, in my prior few Wiley years, I was specifically warned not to spend much time in the booth, for fear of clogging it up and stopping the paying customers from getting what they need.)

If you know anything at all about BEA, you know that it has two essential activities: schmoozing [1] and grabbing free advance copies of upcoming books. I did a bit of the first, seeing old work pals, former contacts, still-current friends, and even a couple of authors. (I'll refrain from name dropping, because you don't care.) And I did my fair share of the latter, too, after a couple of years where the big houses seemed to be trying to switch over to digital download codes. (Or maybe I was just there at opening on Wednesday, for the first time ever -- BEA has always previously been a half-day visit for me, usually in the afternoon -- since that's when I got a lot of this stuff.)

Since this blog has lately devolved to primarily lists of books sitting in front of me, let me tell you about what I found, organized by increasing physical trim size of those books (since that makes a neater stack):

Drama is the new graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, following up the Eisner-winning (on top of several other major accolades) Smile, which I reviewed here appreciatively some time ago. Drama does not appear to be a memoir, as Smile was -- the main character is named Callie, for one thing -- so I think this is the fictional story of one middle-schooler, her role in a school play, and her nascent love-life. It's coming from Scholastic in September -- by the way, Scholastic had a great giveaway setup, with tables on either side of one end of their bowling-alley booth where different things appeared regularly over the course of the show.

Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us is a joke book, more or less, from Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, and Mary Ann Zoellner. All four of them are high-powered New-York-type writers and moms; just from flipping through it, it seems to be heavily about fancy drinks and mani/pedi/hair issues, which the moms I know -- none of whom I'd call "sh*tty," though I'd think they'd be the audience for a humorous parenting manual -- don't care all that much about. So this is for a particular, urban, terribly hip kind of self-conscious mom, who doesn't live up to her unrealistic expectations of perfection in motherhood (as she probably doesn't live up to her unrealistic expectations of perfection any other ways). But it looks funny, it was free, and it's called Sh*tty Mom, so I had to grab it. (It also is barely 60 pages long, so each of the four authors didn't have to do too much work before getting back to their spa weekends and skinny margaritas.) This one's from Abrams Image, also coming in September.

Jasper Fforde's first novel for non-adults is The Last Dragonslayer; it came out in the UK a couple of years back, and I've been vaguely looking for it since then. Harcourt is finally going to publish it here in September -- as the first of what I think is turning into a series, and now I finally have it. It's pure fantasy in a way his books for adults haven't been, set in one of those worlds where magic was once strong and is now ebbing -- though Big Magic may be around the corner.

I spent about five years working on a book club about hunting and fishing -- despite not being a hunter or fisherman at all, and, in fact, not being more than mildly fond of the Great Outdoors to begin with -- and that still burbles up in odd ways. For example, I got a copy of Eating Aliens: One Man's Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species, a book about hunting and then eating various invasive species in the US by Jackson Landers, whose prior works include the very apropos The Beginner's Guide to Hunting Deer for Food. It's from Storey Publishing -- which I dealt with, back in my Outdoorsman's Edge days -- and is yet another book coming in September.

Albert of Adelaide is a first novel -- from the middle-aged New Mexico immigration lawyer Howard Anderson -- being published by the epitome of the "do only a few books, but Do Them Big" publishing strategy, Hachette's Twelve imprint. So it's mildly surprising to see that it looks deeply odd: a fabulist, fantastic story about the title character, a talking platypus looking for the fabled "Old Australia." It's out in July.

Almost the only thing I waited on line to have signed -- aside for a couple of books for my younger son, Thing 2 -- was Ian McEwan's upcoming novel Sweet Tooth, a '70s-set espionage novel, and that was mostly because I couldn't see any easy way to just get the book and avoid the signature. (I really don't see the point of cattle-call signatures -- if a writer you know signs a book to you because she knows you, that's one thing, but standing on line with a hundred other people doesn't make the resulting signature anything but another mass-produced object.) Anyway, this is from Nan A. Talese Books, and is coming in mid-November.

I'd meant to read Kurt Andersen's novel Turn of the Century for the last decade-plus -- though I should have read it when it came out in 1999, which sadly is no longer possible -- so, instead, I snatched a galley of his new novel True Believers, which is coming from Random House in July. I'm afraid it's yet another novel about the 1960s from someone who was young then, but I'll try not to hold that against him.

Mark Helprin is back with another one of his far-spaced, gigantic novels -- this one is named In Sunlight and in Shadow, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish it in October. I don't believe I've managed to read a Helprin novel other than his magnificent, luminous, majestic Winter's Tale despite meaning to read several of them (notably A Soldier of the Great War, which I had a hardcover copy of for around a decade), but perhaps this time will be the charm. This novel doesn't appear to have any fantastic elements; it's the story of a young man just returned from WWII and the rich woman who falls in love with him.

Economix: How and Why Our Economy Works (and Doesn't Work),  in Words and Pictures is a graphic novel explaining how the economy works, written by Michael Goodwin with art by Dan E. Burr. It looks to be very much in the tradition of Larry Gonick's nonfiction comics -- both in style and in political tone -- which is good for those of us who can't get enough pure Gonick from the source. This is a finished book, so I think it's already available -- and it's published by Abrams ComicArts.

Jonathan Tropper's last novel was the bestseller This Is Where I Leave You (which I actually read and reviewed here), so his name was familiar when I saw the big stack of his new book One Last Thing Before I Go. I believe this is another novel of suburban anomie featuring privileged white men who aren't quite as rich and successful as they'd like to be -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- and their dysfunctional families, including pregnant daughters and far-too-happy ex-wives. Dutton will publish it in August.

America, You Sexy Bitch came with a button -- reading "you sexy bitch," naturally -- which was a pretty bad reason to wait in line to get it signed by authors Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain, but it's too late to go back on that now. MIB is a comedian and actor, and MMCC is a professional Republican (her father ran for President a couple of times, so it's in her blood), so of course their book is about riding an RV across the country to either find America or argue about it. I'm not sure which one the book ended up being; we'll all have to find out. It's from Da Capo, and it's probably already published, since it's a real hardcover and everything.

And last for me -- though it will get passed along to the boys -- is the fifth book in Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet graphic novel series, Prince of the Elves. (See my reviews of the earlier books.) It's another book from Scholastic -- if I'd managed to get a copy of the new "Captain Underpants" book, I would be proclaiming them the greatest publisher in the history of the universe -- and is coming, like so much else, in September.

I also grabbed a few things for the aforementioned Thing 2: a teaser with the first 150-ish pages of the new Artemis Fowl book, a signed copy of Brandon Mull's new Candy Shop War sequel, another YA fantasy from the same publisher because the author was signing right before Mull would, and probably another book or two I'm forgetting.

I did not manage to snag a copy of the new Lemony Snicket book, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, let alone get the super-cool package with a "briefcase" of important documents. This is partially because the line was immensely long, and partly because I actually did have booth duties, and couldn't just hang around all day nabbing stuff. Boo hoo. I can wait until the real book comes out, unless some publicist takes pity on me -- or notes my love for the "Series of Unfortunate Events" series -- and shoots me a copy of it. (I'm not holding my breath.)

Otherwise, BEA was unremarkable: some hours of standing in a booth, chatting with colleagues, helping out various passers-by, and waiting for the minutes to pass; some time wandering the floor, looking at things and making mental notes; and a pleasant hour or so at the Baen party down in the basement on Tuesday evening. It was a trade show, but a decent one.

[1] Usually disguised as "business discussions."