Monday, May 19, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/17

Books have been hitting my desk faster than I can read them for my entire adult life -- I worked at the SFBC and handled submissions there for sixteen years, from pretty much straight out of college, and I've been getting stuff at home for this blog for the last eight years or so, overlapping with that old job -- so I have a bedrock sense that money is never an object for books, only time. (This may not be true of everyone, but most of us in the Western world have access to enough free ebooks and libraries to make it effectively so.)

My weekly "Reviewing the Mail" posts were planned to be a way to throw a little time and attention to books that I hadn't managed to read yet, at a time when interest in them was likely to be at a peak, and I've now been doing these posts every Monday for longer than I care to look up. Some week I have a lot of books -- more so back a few years ago, when publishers were shoveling books at blogs because they were the Hot New Thing -- and some weeks I only have a couple. But every one of those books will be someone's favorite book of the year, and maybe of all time -- so it doesn't really matter how many books there are here: there are always more books out there than any of us can read, so the question is whether this book grabs you. I hope something does, this week or soon.

Paul Cornell is back with The Severed Streets, the second book in an urban-fantasy police-procedural series, from Tor as a hardcover on May 20th. (The first book, London Falling, came out last year: I read it, really liked it, and then neglected to write about it here for nearly six months.) This time out, the team of police that developed the Sight in London Falling -- and discovered that there was literally no one else watching or policing the supernatural on their patch, so it would have to be their job now -- is chasing an invisible murderer, one who targets top government officials and other powerful rich white men and who has some things in common with Jack the Ripper. I've also heard that Neil Gaiman is a character in this one, so I've got that to look forward to. The first book was an excellent collision of contemporary fantasy and the crime novel, set in a gritty real world among professionals, with well-drawn characters and a deep and intriguing supernatural world to uncover -- I expect this one will be just as good.

Also on my desk this week is Peter Watts's Echopraxia, a follow-up to his 2006 novel Blindsight (which I read and liked at the time, before the founding of this blog). It's set in a world about a century ahead, where mankind is rapidly speciating itself through genetic engineering and other more esoteric arts, focusing on what seems to be an odd band of various types of humans heading to the center of the solar system for a reason the plot description carefully does not specify. I expect it will be as sunny and cheerful as Watts's other books. (Which is to say: not at all.) It's a Tor hardcover, coming in August.

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