Monday, July 23, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/21: For Real

Well, I've wrested control of this blog back from the figment of my imagination that had momentarily commandeered it. (Don't ask: every week I try to think up some interesting way to introduce this post, and not all of my ideas are coherent or make sense.) My thanks to the enthusiastic and energetic Sr. Gonzales, who I do not expect will return to these pages. (But who knows?)

Anyway, back in the proudly made-in-America Antick Musings, another week has passed, and mail has accumulated. I will tell you about that mail, but before I tell you that, I have to tell you this: I have not read any of the books in front of me, and what I have to tell you about them may well turn out to be deficient in tiny or substantial ways. I apologize in advance if that turns out to be the case, but it's just what you have to deal with when you get your information from random people on the Internet.

Stephen M. Irwin, whose first novel The Dead Path won the 2010 First Fiction Award from my old compadres at the Book-of-the-Month Club, is back with The Broken Ones, a near-future horror novel set in a world where ghosts have suddenly appeared -- different apparitions for every human being, of the dead or living -- and the world is falling apart for other typical near-future reasons (unexpectedly quick global warming, switching of the magnetic poles, etc.). Irwin's protagonists are detectives, working for a squad that investigates occult explanations for violent crimes, and one seemingly normal investigation will lead them to discover "a terrifying conspiracy." Broken Ones will be a hardcover from Doubleday; it hits stores August 7th.

Dave Freer's new novel is an alternate history Young Adult book from Pyr called Cuttlefish -- named after a peculiar submarine in the novel, since Freer clearly thinks alt-hist needs more neat submarines and fewer neat airships -- about a world where ammonia synthesis wasn't discovered in Germany in the 1890s and consequently The Great War fizzled and the British Empire didn't. Cuttlefish is set in a 1953 where massive burning of coal (and a methane burst) raised oceans quickly and uncontrollably, and where a totalitarian government stomps on the rights of Our Heroes. (Because something has to be the same in all alt-hists.) Cuttlefish was published in hardcover on July 17th.

Also for younger readers -- though I believe for slightly older younger readers -- is Morgan Rhodes' first novel, Falling Kingdoms. (Rhodes looks to be a pretty open pseudonym -- the bio in the galley I have describes her as "the pen name for a popular author of urban fantasy" and appears under a photo of her. I don't recognize her, but I'm sure her real identity will be known very quickly, if it's not already public.) Falling Kingdoms is one of those fantasy books all about numbers: four young protagonists, three kingdoms, hundreds of years of peace and magic-less-ness, and an undetermined number of further books to finish up the story. Falling Kingdoms will be a hardcover from Penguin's edgy Razorbill imprint in December.

Sean McMullen's The Time Engine was originally published in 2008 in hardcover -- and, before my flood last year, I had a copy of that hardcover, which I regularly looked at and thought "I really should read this soon" -- but it's now coming out in a trade paperback edition at a lower price for those of you willing to wait four years for a deal. Time Engine is the fourth in McMullen's wonderful "Moonworlds" series, set on the inhabited moons of a Jovian planet somewhere in the universe, with humanoid but not-quite-human inhabitants who perform magic and also have frighteningly dangerous technology. (The previous novels in the series -- all standalones, though some share characters -- are Voyage of the Shadowmoon, Glass Dragons, and Voidfarer, and I bought all of them for the SFBC back in my days there and burbled about them regularly, saying things like "Sean McMullen knows how to blow up stuff real good!") McMullen is one of the hidden treasure of the spec-fic world; he writes books that manage to be both tough-minded and madcap, equally full of violence and humor, with complicated plots that spiral out of control and quirky, spiky characters that are utterly real. He deserves to be much more widely read.

And last this time out is Fred Chao's graphic novel Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero, collecting the three issues of the 2007-2008 comic. (It was originally published in 2009 by AdHouse Books, at which time I reviewed it -- I'm not sure, from first glace, if there's any new material in this new edition or not.) Johnny is a young guy in Brooklyn, with a cute girlfriend, a job at the local restaurant, and periodic problems with monsters, samurai, or giant fish -- this is a comic that runs right down the line between slice-of-life twentysomething and high-adventure odd. I liked it the first time out, and I expect to like it this time around as well -- this new edition is a trade paperback from Tor, available now.


Shane said...

Sadly, I think the recession may have killed the Moonworlds series. At one time I had seen mention of books after The Time Engine, but after it came out it was listed online as being the concluding volume.

Unknown said...

according to the goodreads site, Morgan Rhodes is a pen name for Michelle Rowan

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