Monday, October 17, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/15

You can't tell, but I'm not here this Monday. I'm actually off in San Francisco, working a trade show for the mighty Thomson Reuters Legal empire, sitting in on sessions and probably meeting a lot of lawyers. But Reviewing the Mail goes on no matter what, and so here are the books that arrived last week. As always, I haven't read them, and what I'm about to say will be based on my suppositions and prior knowledge but may not end up being completely accurate. If I get anything wrong, I apologize in advance.

Alien Morning is, I think, Rick Wilber's first novel -- I'm a little vague because the book doesn't precisely say that and I know I've heard his name around for a while now. (On the other hand, the cover letter does talk about how he's written lots of short stories, which could be the reason for both things.) It's a first-contact novel, aliens-come-to-Earth subdivision, this-ordinary-guy sub-sub-division. The ordinary guy in this case is a journalist, or what that job has been debased into by 2030, and his genius scientist brother is engaged to the equally brilliant female scientist who is the main point of contact with the aliens. (Isn't that also a Robert Charles Wilson book?) It's a Tor hardcover, available November 8th.

The rest of the books this week are manga from Yen Press, and first among them is Ato Sakurai's Today's Cerberus, Vol. 1. An ordinary teenage guy -- yeah, Standard Manga Protagonist #1, Shonen Division -- was bitten by a three-headed dog as a young boy, as you are, and he thus lost a piece of his soul, because obviously. That dog is now back as a sexy schoolmate -- I think, it can sometimes be hard to tell if a teen girl in manga is supposed to be sexy or is just in the standard look -- and wants to help him get that soul-piece back. But supernatural girls in manga never do anything the easy way, so wacky hijinks ensue.

Then there's Tohyo Game, Vol 1: One Black Ballot To You, credited to G.O. (original story), CHIHIRO (adaptation) and Tatsuhiko (art). I'm not sure what it was adapted from -- my guesses are 1) video game and 2) light novel -- but it clearly was adapted. This is one of those horror stories about kids at school who get killed in ironic and horrible ways; in this particular case, it's all set off by a popularity contest, and then the least popular kids start dying hideously. I am old enough that such blatant symbolism no longer appeals to me, but your opinion may differ....

And last is the latest in the reprinting of a very popular series: Natsuki Takaya's Fruits Basket: Collector's Edition, Vol. 6. This new edition collects two of the original tankobon volumes into each larger book, for those who like more pages and bigger art. I haven't read the series, but I think it's a story about a girl who drops into a weird family that also transforms into strange creatures, because every manga has to be in at least two genres at once.

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