Monday, May 18, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/16

In a world of uncertainty and strangeness, there are only a few things you can count on. And one of them is that every Monday morning, I'll post a list of the books that arrived in my mail the prior week. You might not be interested in any of those books, and I might not make them sound enticing, but, by gum!, that post will go up on time!

(There might not be many other posts here on Antick Musings, since my new job is both time-consuming in itself and is at the end of a substantially longer commute than I've been used to from the last few years, but this one string you can count on for as long as I keep getting books in the mail.)

This week, I have four books: two that I've seen before, now returned in perfected published form, a la Gandalf the White. And then I have two books I haven't seen before, though they're both in series and by familiar authors. As always, I will point out that I haven't read any of these, and anything I say about them could easily be wrong because of that.

First up is Darwin's Watch: The Science of Discworld III, from Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen. Like the first two Science of Discworld books (and the fourth, which hit the UK several years ago and is still forthcoming on my side of the pond), it combines alternate chapters of a Pratchett-written Unseen University story about wizards poking at a created "Roundworld" with chapters about the actual science implied by those pokes, written by working scientists and popularizers Stewart and Cohen. I don't remember if I read all four of these books, but they start very strong and glide gently downhill, as the authors have less impressive material each time out. Darwin's Watch is a June 2015 trade paperback original from Anchor in the US, only ten years after the UK publication.

And then there's (R)evolution, the first novel from TV writer PJ Manney, coming on June 1st from Amazon's 47North imprint. (So you might have trouble finding it in any smaller independent bookstores that Amazon hasn't managed to drive out of business yet.) It's a technothriller in the vein of Blood Music, with the plucky genius researcher who injects himself with his own creation and then gets caught up in the usual evil conspiracy to control everything.

Long Black Curl is the third novel in Alex Bledsoe's Tufa series, about a secret race of musically magical people in a (hidden?) county in Tennessee, and their intrigues and problems. (I suspect there's an influence from Manly Wade Wellman's "Silver John" stories here, since Bledsoe is also working with authentic American legends.) In this one, one of the two Tufa ever stripped of their powers and exiled is back, and of course she's pissed. Long Black Curl is a Tor hardcover, on sale May 26.

And last is a big fat fantasy novel from Peter Orullian: Trial of Intentions, the sequel to The Unremembered and the continuation of the "Vault of Heaven" series. It's one of those books where there's an ancient evil god out there, and his millennia-old magic chains are failing, so Bad Stuff is ramping up and will keep doing so until the Cast of Thousands travels across the entire map, learns Important Lessons about themselves and the world, gathers all of the Plot Tokens, and reassemble in the last book for a few of the less important characters to die and the rest to be triumphant. (I may be slightly flippant about epic fantasy here. I may also be less than accurate about this particular series.) Trial of Intentions is a Tor hardcover, also available May 26th, and the cover letter insists that it works perfectly fine as an introduction to the series.

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