Monday, May 06, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/4

Welcome back to the weekly post about the stuff I find in my mail -- all of the below books arrived over the past seven days, sent by publishing companies hoping that I will read and love and write about them. That may yet happen, but I haven't read any of these books yet -- but here's what I can tell you about them right now.

John Scalzi's The Human Division is probably the highest profile, most successful serialized novel since Stephen King's The Green Mile more than a decade ago, so there's a good chance that you've already heard about it, if not read it (or parts of it) already. But the thirteen serialized chapters/stories have now been all collected from their original electronic form and published as a hardcover by Tor (and, of course, also as an all-in-one ebook edition as well), hitting stores May 14th. The combined edition contains two extra stories as a bonus to those able to wait. The book itself is a continuation of his main space-opera sequence that began with Old Man's War (and which doesn't seem to have developed a name other than "the Old Man's War universe") I expect to read this one pretty soon, and this time around, I hope not to provoke the author to suggest I should stop reading his work.

Hauntings is a collection of reprint ghost stories, edited by Ellen Datlow and published by Tachyon. The stories range from Pat Cadigan's "Eenie, Meenie, Ipsateenie," from 1983, through Kelly Link's Two Houses," from last year, with stories from Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson, Lucius Shepard, Elizabeth Hand, Jeffrey Ford in between -- two dozen ghost tales in all.

Entirely different is Superman: Peace in the Balance, a "Choose-Your-Fate Adventure Book" which is quite similar to a certain trademarked series of "if you decide to do X, turn to Page 6" books from my youth. This one is written by Michael Teitelbaum, has cover at by Rom Zaime and uncredited generic Superman art (and puzzles!) inside, and is aimed at kids ages 8-12. It's published by Tor's Starscape imprint, and features Clark Kent trying to cover a World Peace Conference while three of his deadliest enemies (those guys on the cover) simultaneously attack Earth.

The Beautiful Land looks to be the first novel by Alan Averill -- it doesn't say so specifically, but it won the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and has other new-author indications -- and is coming from Ace on June 4th. It's an alternate-universe SF novel, in which the shadowy Axon Corporation hires Takashiro O'Leary -- who once was his fictional world's equivalent of Bear Grylls -- to explore alternate timelines. Of course, it gets more complicated than that -- the inventor of the time-travel device has his own plans, and Tak's love, a shell-shocked Iraq war vet, will have no place in the clean new timeline Axon wants to build.

Michael Logan's Apocalypse Cow is also an award winner before US publication -- it landed the inaugural Terry Pratchett Prize when it came out in the UK -- and, as the title implies, it is about the zombie cow apocalypse hitting Britain. I expect it's funny -- cows are always funny in fiction, though much less so in real life -- and the Pratchett imprimatur is pretty nice, too. St. Martin's Press is publishing this as a trade paperback on May 21.

From St. Martin's corporate cousin Tor comes Susan Palwick's new novel Mending the Moon, arriving in hardcover on May 14th. Given Palwick's background, and that Tor publication, I expect there's some fantasy in it, but the description is very mundane: a middle-aged woman is murdered on vacation in Mexico, by another American tourist, a young man. When he takes his own life soon after in Seattle, his mother invites the murdered woman's adopted son and other close friends to a memorial service for the murderer. Somewhere in the middle, the online fandom for a comic-book superhero called Comrade Cosmos is also important.

And last for this week is Jon Steele's Angel City, the middle book in the "Angelus Trilogy" after The Watchers. This looks to be a thriller with supernatural elements rather than a "fantasy novel" -- at least as positioned by Blue Rider Press, which will publish it as a hardcover in June -- in which a tough detective and a high-priced whore with a heart of gold continue their battle against the otherworldly Nephilim.

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