Monday, April 07, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 3/5

As usual, these are books that arrived on my doorstep this week and which are publishing in the near future. I haven't read them yet, but maybe I can tell you something about each of them quickly even with that handicap.

What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Vol. 1 is a culinary manga by Fumi Yoshinaga, which is already interesting -- there aren't many Western comic that focus on food, after all. (Though we might all be happier if our popular culture focused more on pleasures like food and less on crime and violence and evil.) The main characters are a gay couple -- one a lawyer, the other a stylist, though it looks like this series changes up the cliches a bit by making the lawyer the hard-core foodie and cook. It's from Vertical, it's out now, and it looks to me like a unique thing -- which is vanishingly rare in the follow-the-leader world of publishing.

I have two different books in this week's stack that are not actually manga, but are prose works related to manga, both coming from Yen Press this month. The first one is the latest in Isuna Hasekura's Spice & Wolf light novel series -- as I understand it, the novels were first, and the manga is an adaptation of them -- which is the eleventh volume: Side Colors II. (So, yes the full title is Spice and Wolf, Vol. 11: Side Colors II, which is a slightly confusing way to mix Roman and Arabic numbers.) As the title implies, this is the second book of side stories, focusing on other characters and events rather than the main plot of the series. (Which is about an itinerant merchant in a vaguely medieval world and his ex-harvest-goddess wolf-girl assistant, of course.)

The other Yen novel is Reki Kawahara's Sword Art Online 1:  Aincrad, which also spawned a manga series (plus various other media, as usual). This series is set in 2022, when the world's first VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) goes online, simulating a gigantic hundred-level world full of castle, cities, and the inevitable monsters. Huge numbers of players jack in and flock to the game, only to find that there's no way to log-off, and that they're all trapped -- with the usual VR death-here-is-real-death hoo-hah for added drama -- until all of the secrets of the game world are conquered.

Daniel H. Wilson is back with a sequel to his popular SF thriller Robopocalypse in Robogenesis, even though its title sounds more like a prequel. (Don't things have to have a genesis before they can have a pocalypse?) In any case, the killer robots are back, under the control of fiendish AI Archos R-14, and humanity must smash a whole lot of machinery to survive. This is a Doubleday hardcover, coming June 10th.

And last for this week is Elizabeth Bear's new novel Steles of the Sky, the finale of the Mongol-inspired epic fantasy Eternal Sky trilogy, following Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars. It's a Tor hardcover, officially hitting stores on April 8th (which is tomorrow, for those counting on their hands). And it seems to be about Re Temur, having gathered his friends and allies, finally battling his evil uncle for control of their nation.

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