Monday, May 12, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/10

Some weeks bring a lot of books in the mail; some weeks only a few. But any week with surprising packages of books is a good week. This week, there are two books to tell you about: I haven't read them, but here's what looks interesting about them on first glance.

Cyador's Heirs is the latest Recluce fantasy novel from L.E. Modesitt, Jr., coming as a Tor hardcover on May 20th. I've only read one book in this series, and that was close to twenty years ago, so I'm not going to be a good guide to the series, which is now seventeen books long and covers many countries and ages on Modesitt's secondary world of Chaos and Order magic. But I can see that this book is the story of young Lerial, second son of a Duke in a land coveted by its neighbors, and that he's the latest epic fantasy protagonist to discover that he, too has amazing magical powers -- in his case, that he can control both Order and Chaos magic. It looks to stand more or less alone; my understanding of the Recluce books is that they come in clumps or one-offs; the whole series does not tell a single story but jumps around the world through various times. So this could very well be a fine first Modesitt novel for a new reader.

And then there's Nebula Awards Showcase 2014, which includes the Nebula winners for 2012, a few other nominees, and some other material, all edited by Kij Johnson. The Nebula Showcase books are probably the longest-running annual "best of" series in the field -- I believe there have been gaps, but it basically goes back to the mid-60s -- even though, because they are tied to the Nebula voting process, it does mean that these books cover the best stories of two years ago. (That's only a real problem if you demand to only read just-published fiction though, which is not something I expect many people do.) This is coming from Pyr as a trade paperback on May 20th, and has the Nebula-winning stories of that year (by Ailette de Bodard, Andy Duncan, and Nancy Kress), an excerpt from the winning novel (2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson), an excerpt from the winner of the associated Andre Norton award (E.C. Myers's Fair Coin), the winners of the Rhysling awards for SFF poetry, two nominated short stories, and some appreciations of that year's Grand Master, Gene Wolfe. Unlike some previous years, there's no substantial nonfiction looking back at the award year.

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