Monday, January 14, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/12

Here we are once again on a Monday morning -- I've got some upcoming books to tell you about, and you (I presume) are interested in finding new things to read. So I think we can help each other out, yes?

I have not read the books sitting in front of me right now -- they just showed up over the past few days, and I don't read as quickly as I did in the pre-distraction days. (Distractions being, in roughly ascending order of power, life, children, work, and the oh-so-shiny Internet.) But here are some things I can tell you about them:

Gene Wolfe's first major novel Peace -- it was preceded only by the minor and mostly-forgotten Operation Ares and the fix-up The Fifth Head of Cerberus, nearly forty years ago -- is being reprinted as a classy trade paperback from Orb, with a Neil Gaiman afterword, available in retail establishments already. Gaiman's afterword notes that Wolfe is a sneaky writer whose books reward close attention (and sometime re-reads), which is true for all of his books, but especially for this one -- it doesn't look like what you'd expect from SFF writer Wolfe, masquerading as a Midwestern semi-pastoral novel, the story of one old man telling the story of his life. Peace is more than that, and -- like all of the best novels -- implies things it will not say. It's a masterwork by one of the greatest writers of the last half-century, and, if it now has a package that looks more like Gabriel Marcia Marquez, Kazuo Ishiguro, or Martin Amis than like Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein -- well, there's a reason for that. This is a book for readers who know what fiction is capable of, and want to reach those heights again.

Steven Gould is back with a third novel in the main sequence of his debut novel Jumper -- following Reflex, but not Jumper: Griffin's Story, which was based more on the movie made from Jumper than the world shown in the novel -- in the form of Impulse, a Tor hardcover available everywhere tomorrow, January 15th. Jumper and Reflex are both excellent novels -- ones which I read in my old life as a SF editor, so I don't have reviews to link to here -- so I have high hopes for Impulse, despite its frankly dull and vaguely early-90s (extreme snowboarding! dull colors! muted background grid!) cover.

The Kassa Gambit is the first novel by Australian M.C. Planck -- and I wish I could make a "Planck distance" joke about how long or short this book it, but it's resolutely medium-size at 287 book pages -- a SF book set in the far future, where mankind has spread to the stars (after the inevitable trashing of Earth) and found no other intelligent life out there. But then a distress call comes from the planet Kassa -- it's being attacked by mysterious forces... Sounds like a great set-up, and Planck clearly hasn't let it run on too long. You can find Kassa Gambit in stores now; it published last week.

And last for this week is Shuzo Oshimi's The Flowers of Evil, Volume 4, the latest in the creepy manga series that I'm definitely going to have to sit down and read through some time soon. It's published by Vertical, and hits stores this week.

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