Monday, September 24, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/22

I have no particularly amusing opening for you this week, and for that I deeply, humbly apologize. Really. But we must soldier on anyway, and so I'll tell you that the below are the books and other ephemera that arrived on my doorstep over the past week, which I have not yet read. Here, then, is what I can tell you about them, in hopes that one or more of them will be your favorite whatever-it-is of the year or decade or week or hour.

First up is a comics collection, Wings for Wheels: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen, which comes in a neat pseudo-LP format, with a red 36-page "record" with six comics stories sitting inside a white "sleeve" with that swell wraparound art from Dan McCool that you can see above and to the left. Wings for Wheels is edited by Nomi Kane, who also contributes one of the six pieces as well -- other contributors are Todd McArthur, Jen May, Josh PM Frees, Jen Vaughn, and Pat Barrett. I imagine I got this because I'm a Jersey guy who reviews comics, and I'm very happy to see it: it's a great package with work by cartoonists I'm not familiar with, so it'll be a great sampler. My quick web research shows that it debuted at the recent SPX small-press comics show, and that you can get it either at other shows attended by the contributors or online at Kane's Brew for Breakfast webstore.

Along completely different lines is the young-readers "choose-your-fate adventure book" Wonder Woman: Power Outage by Michael Teitelbaum. It's one of those "if you go through the right door, turn to page 17" books that people my age remember from the '80s, with a storyline centered on Wondy losing her powers at random times for unknown reasons and a number of puzzles in the middle of the story. It's for readers from age 8-12 (or possibly strong readers a bit younger than that, and WW fans above that age), and will be published by Tor's Starscape imprint in paperback tomorrow.

Vertical, a prominent publisher of smart and interesting books from Japan in translation (including a lot of Osamu Tezuka books over the past few years) has a couple of new manga series starting this month, and first up is Keiko Suenobu's Limit. It's a look at bullying and cliques in a high school setting, and -- since Suenobu is best known for her Kodansha Award-winning shojo story Life (which included elements of self-mutilation, rape and suicide), it's not likely to be a quiet or renormalizing story.

Also from Vertical and also set in a highschool -- though looking to be slightly less dramatic, is a new edition of Paradise Kiss from AiYazawa (best known here for Nana). This classic josei story of high fashion will be published in three volumes this time around.

Max Gladstone's first novel is Three Parts Dead, which clearly spurns all conventional pigeonholes to instead strike out on its own: it seems to be, more or less, a necromantic steampunk legal thriller set in a quirky secondary world. Our heroine, Tara, must resurrect the fire god Kos before his city falls apart -- and, of course, it will not be that simple. Three Parts Dead has admiring quotes from writers as diverse as Carrie Vaughn, Jerry Pournelle, James Morrow, and John Crowley (whom I don't recall seeing blurb anything for a long time, if ever), and will be a Tor hardcover hitting stores October 2nd.

I have to admit I don't really understand the thrust of Walter Mosley's current writing project for Tor, "Crosstown to Oblivion," which will eventually consist of six novellas published in three volumes -- probably because I haven't yet read the first duo, The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin. But the second volume -- again, two novellas, this time entitled Merge and Disciple
-- will be published by Tor in hardcover on October 12th, and Mosley remains one of the most interesting contemporary American writers, so it's certainly worth a look. (See the opening paragraph of my review of Mosley's novel Killing Johnny Fry for a sketch of my brief for Mosley as a major American writer; I don't think it makes sense to continue to qualify him as "mystery" or "African-American" at this point.)

And last for this week is The Skybound Sea, the finale of Sam Sykes's Aeons' Gate trilogy. It's big, dark epic fantasy, and it has one of the best blurbs I've seen in a long time: "I do not wish Sam Sykes dead." -- John Scalzi. How can you resist that? Skybound Sea is a trade paperback from Pyr, which hit stores two weeks ago.

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