Monday, July 29, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/27

I have no specific attempts at humor to lead off with this week, so I might as well just get right into it. These are books that I got last week, all sent to me by publicity folks at publishing companies. They'd very much you to buy and love the books they publish, since that's what pays their salaries -- and, on top of that, no one goes into publishing just for the money to begin with. I haven't read these books as of this moment -- and, given time constraints and my already full shelves, I might not read all of them before the Heat Death of the Universe -- but here's what I can tell you about them right now.

I like to lead off with something specific and interesting, and I've seen Chuck Wendig's Under the Empyrean Sky around a bit lately, so it gets the top slot. I haven't read Wendig before, but he's written a few books -- I think mostly SF for Angry Robot, though he's got a lot of very different projects linked on his blog -- and is a well-known blogger. This particular book begins a YA fantasy series called "The Heartland Trilogy" for Skyscape, the new Amazon imprint. (So you might not have much luck finding this in your local B&N or indy store.) It's publishing in hardcover and the usual digital formats on Tuesday, and looks to be one of those trendy dystopias, with the rich folks floating above in palatial "sky flotillas" and Our Heroes mucking about near the ground in scavenged tech, trying to control the nasty engineered monoculture crop that covers all of The Heartland. Don't expect too much subtlety, I guess, is what I'm saying.

Box Office Poison is the first novel by ex-TV writer (story editor, actually, which is something like "head writer," more or less) Phillipa Bornikova, and will probably turn out to be the first in a new urban fantasy series. Bornikova takes the usual UF setup -- there really are vampires, werewolves, and elves, pretty much all exactly as you think of them, but they've been hidden for most of human history -- and throws it into legal-thriller territory. Linnet Ellery, a human lawyer at a vampire-dominated firm, has been hired to arbitrate a dispute within the Screen Actors Guild between the unearthly beautiful elves and the humans who are steadily losing jobs to them. Of course, there's skuldugggery and secret factions running around, too -- it wouldn't be a legal thriller without at least one murder -- so Ellery has her (exquisitely manicured, I'm sure) hands full. Box Office Poison is a  Tor hardcover, coming August 6th. (And, looking at it more intently, it either changed title from This Case Is Gonna Kill Me much too late in the process or is actually the second book in the series -- because many of the quotes on this book are attributed to Gonna Kill Me.)

Also on August 6th in hardcover, from Tor's less-fantastical cousin Forge -- home to legal thrillers without vampires, mysteries without werewolves, or, in this case, sword-slinging without magic -- comes Jack Whyte's new historical novel Robert the Bruce, second in "The Guardians" series after The Forest Laird. Robert, as we all should know by now, was King of Scotland at the end of the turbulent thirteenth century, and this book traces wee Robbie's journey from a ten-year-old boy to that king. This is the kind of thing Whyte is famous for, so if you can stand your medieval intrigue and battles to be sans dragons, jump right in here.

The next book is not titled Super Heroes, possibly because that's a trademark of the Marvel and DC comic-book companies. It is actually titled Super Stories of Heroes & Villains, but the cover might make you believe otherwise. It's edited by Calude Lalumiere, and is a reprint anthology coming from Tachyon in September. Inside are 28 stories, ranging from Kim Newman's "Ubermensch!" to Gene Wolfe's "The Detective of Dreams," with stories by Kurt Busiek, Kelly Link, Chris Roberson, Rachel Pollack, Carol Emshwiller, Jonathan Lethem, Carrie Vaughn, Tim Pratt, and many others in between -- and all of those stories, obviously, are about the kind of people we in SF used to call Wild Talents before comic-bookishness completely took over the world of nerdity.

Last for this week is another book from Tachyon, Deadman's Road by Joe R. Lansdale, coming as a trade paperback in August. It collects a series of weird western tales -- gunslinger horror, to put it another way -- about the Reverend Jebidiah Mercer, the hard-drinking and gun-slinging preacher of the Old West. Lansdale's intro declares that these stories were created in the spirit of the old pulp magazines -- so, if you're looking for something like that, here you are.

No comments:

Post a Comment