Monday, November 24, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/22

Another week, another stack of books. It's good to be the blogger.

In case you're new around these parts, here's how this works: I list the books I received over the past week every Monday. This probably doesn't need to be said, but I haven't actually read these books at this point -- I may, one day, but not yet. I can, however, tell you that they exist, and some interesting facts about them gleaned from a quick glance and vague suppositions. I do this out of guilt and hope: guilt that I get this stuff for free and hope that you (yes, you!) will find a new book to love and cherish forever. So, without further ado....

I'm leading off with a mystery novel because I used to read massive numbers of them, because it's by a writer I've liked for a couple of decades, and (most importantly) because it's my blog and I can do what I want. The latest in the series about Detroit PI Amos Walker is You Know Who Killed Me, and it's by the great Loren D. Estleman. I spent a big chunk of 2007 reading a batch of books in this series, but I seem to have gotten behind again. This one sees Walker just out of rehab and working for the sheriff's department running down tips in a high-profile murder case -- just the kind of thing you'd want out of a PI novel. It's from Tor's sister imprint Forge, and is available in hardcover on December 9th.

I have a stack of manga from Vertical, all brand-new, and so I'll take the first volumes first, in descending order of apparent originality. Prophecy, Vol. 1 starts a series by Tetsuya Tsutsui about social networks and Internet anonymity. It seems to have two threads: a vigilante who posts videos about his activities before he does them, and the work of a new police division going after Internet crimes, mostly copying and illegal downloading. It looks to be pretty serious and dramatic, with no magical girls or ninjas or lovable teenage losers in sight.

Launching another new series is Ajin: Demi-human, Vol. 1, which is from Tsuina Miura and Gamon Sakurai. In the near future, a rare kind of person called "demi-human" has been discovered -- no matter what happens to them, they simply can't die. And our teenage protagonist learns that he's one of them

And then there's Ryu Mizunagi's Witchcraft Works, Vol. 1, which seems to be a magical school story: the main character is another ordinary teen boy at what should be a plain, ordinary school, but gets caught up in a battle of witches when the most gorgeous, popular girl in the class saves him.

Also from Vertical this month is From the New World, Vol. 6 by Yusuke Kishi and Toru Oikawa, continuing the story about the few (Japanese) survivors of humanity after an apocalypse and their semi-human servant Morph Rats (the rest of the world). I reviewed the second book earlier this year, but haven't kept up with the series since then. (They've been coming out at a blistering clip, clearly -- about every other month.)

Anne Leonard's first novel Moth and Spark confuses me, I have to admit. It looks like a literary novel -- classy Penguin books trade paperback package, suitable for reading on the bus without having people point and laugh -- and has a title like a literary novel. But the plot description on the back cover is solid secondary-world epic fantasy, and a quick dip into the prose inside confirms that: this is a novel about princes and dragons, and people who ride dragons, and fantasy empires, and feisty commoner girls who snag the hearts of princes, and villages of secret wizards. There's even a map up front. So it looks to me like someone is trying very, very hard to hide Moth and Spark from the audience that would love it and recommend it to other readers. But, if you do like novels about noble princes freeing the dragons, finding that feisty common girl, and saving their empires, wander over to the "fiction and literature" section of your preferred store and check out Moth and Spark. It publishes December 30th.

Yen Press has made a habit of adapting popular prose fantasy works into graphic form -- they've done it for Brent Weeks and Stephenie Meyer and James Patterson -- so it's not surprising to see they've done the same with one of the big kahunas of the field, Anne Rice. Rice's recent novel The Wolf Gift has been adapted into a single-volume graphic novel by Ashley Marie Witter. It's available November 18th, and, if you didn't read the original novel, it's Rice doing werewolves. (Which you probably guessed, actually.)

Katherine Kurtz has been writing tales of the powerful psychic race of the Deryni and their pseudo-medieval Europe world for more than forty years now, and there's a new one coming: The King's Deryni. It's an Ace hardcover coming on December 2nd. It seems to be the conclusion of the current "Childe Morgan" trilogy, though the book itself doesn't say that.

Speaking of big fantasy series that have been running for a while, I also have here L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Heritage of Cyador, the latest Recluce novel. It's a Tor hardcover, coming November 18th, and I have to admit that I only read one Recluce book, almost twenty years ago, and that I don't know the timeline and characters of this complex series well. But it's quite popular, so I imagine a few of you will be happy to know that there's a new one on the way.

Last this week is the original hard SF anthology Carbide Tipped Pens, edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi. (Because nothing says "forward-looking fiction with good science" than a thoroughly outdated metaphor. Seriously, pens? With that cover? Is Tor trying to only sell this to people over fifty?) It has stories by Daniel H. Wilson, Aliette de Bodard, Gregory Benford, Jack McDevitt, Robert Reed, and about a dozen others -- all insisting that they're really based on hard science, so I expect the Flashing Slipstick Brigade will be out in force to review this one. It's a Tor hardcover, available December 2nds, and I'm still shaking my head about that title.

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