Monday, July 09, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/7

This week, I'm writing to you from the end of a very long weekend (I used the Independence Day holiday to stretch out through the end of that week), which, sadly, turned out not to be as restful as it could have been. (Thing 2 had Medical Issues which put him in a hospital for almost 24 hours -- he's fine now, and it wasn't the appendicitis we were all afraid it was -- and that tends to make things fraught and nerve-wracking.) But, still, I didn't have to go to the office for five days straight, and that's a wonderful thing.

During the holiday-shortened week, I did get some mail, and some of that mail was books sent in hopes I'll review them. What will follow are not those reviews, since I haven't read these books yet, but it is what I can tell you about them without having read them. Any errors of fact are entirely mine, as are errors of interpretation. These books are almost certainly much more interesting, exciting, and fun than I will present them as (if the recent Scalzi kerfuffle has taught us all anything, it's taught us that).

First up is Earth Unaware, a new novel by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, which is a Tor hardcover, coming July 17th. It's the first book of "the Formic Wars," and that series is (as astute readers have already realized) a prequel to Card's most famous and popular novel, Ender's Game. Thus this is the story of how the alien Buggers came to discover Earth's unprotected, soft backside and to cruelly thrust their war-making apparatus therein.

I have two books this week that I've already seen once -- and still not read; is this guy Wheeler really such a slacker? -- the first of which is Bill Pronzini's latest "Nameless Detective" novel, Hellbox. (You can see what I wrote about it on April 7th, if you like.) This is one of the great PI series of the last half-century, and it's still going: Hellbox is a Forge hardcover, which was officially published last week.

The other book I've seen once before is J.A. Pitts's Forged in Fire, the third book in an urban fantasy series about a female blacksmith-turned-dragonslayer in the Pacific Northwest. (That's her butt on the front cover, as required by the law of urban fantasy covers; you know she's an urban fantasy heroine because of the butt in black leather, but you know she's tough because of the punky haircut and the fact that you can actually see her face.) I didn't say much about this book the first time -- unlike the Pronzini series, I've never read Pitts's books -- but you can read that not much, if you like. This is a Tor hardcover, and hit stores on June 19th.

Last for this week is a new anthology about the singularity -- this generation's great SFnal idea, that computer speed and processing ability will continue its logarithmic growth rate and explode past us into superhuman, self-aware realms Any Day Now -- edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, entitled Digital Rapture. I suspect they might be more interested in the singularity as a subject for stories than as True Believers, since this all-reprint anthology begins with Asimov's 1956 story "The Last Question" before getting into the requisite Stross, Doctorow, Egan, Vinge, and Kurzweil material. (Digital Rapture has several works of nonfiction among the stories, including Vinge's foundational 1993 paper "The Coming Technological Singularity" -- which is coming today exactly as much as it was in 1993, you betcha -- so it looks to provide as good a single-volume overview of the current SF love for singularitudinousness as you could hope for.) Digital Rapture is a trade paperback, coming in August from Tachyon.

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