Monday, September 10, 2018

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/8/18

This time out, I have two books, which came because I ordered them from that big Internet behemoth that used to pretend to be a bookstore. And I got both of them for series-completing reasons, which I'll explain....

Rogue Protocol is the third book in "The Murderbot Diaries," a sequence of novellas-published-as-books by Martha Wells. The first one was All Systems Red, which I read last year and which won the Hugo just a few weeks ago. The second was Artificial Condition, and I see I'm so far ahead with Book-A-Day that I wrote my post on that about a week ago but it won't go live until the 18th. (Maybe I'll update this post with a link then. I doubt it, though.) A fourth and possibly final book, Exit Strategy, is coming this fall.

Murderbot is a great protagonist with a great voice, and Wells is constructing an interesting world around it -- this is an awesome series that has me exciting about something in SF for the first time in years. I strongly recommend it.

Mage: The Hero Discovered, Book One is even more complicated to explain. Matt Wagner started out in the '80s as an indy-comics darling, though he's since done a lot of work for the Big Two as well. (As one gets older, one comes to appreciate the value of steady paychecks and dependable income.) His two big creations back then were Grendel and Mage -- one a vigilante crimelord (basically evil Batman) in a slightly alternate world, and the other a mythic take on the superhero idea with characters modeled on or inspired by the people in Wagner's own life.

Grendel went through a lot of series with a lot of collaborators, since it was always a concept that could burn through a lot of ideas and be shown in very different ways. But Mage was more personal, and was designed from the beginning as three long series -- The Hero Discovered, The Hero Defined, and The Hero Denied. Wagner did Discovered as his first long comics project in the mid-80s, and came back a decade later for Defined in 1997. His fans thought it would probably be another decade before Denied, and settled in to wait.

Well, it was twenty years in the event -- The Hero Denied has been coming out in pamphlet form, and is about two-thirds done as I type this. The first Hero Denied collection is coming in late October, and I expect the second one, probably the last Mage book, will hit in early 2019.

I'd read Discovered and Defined several times over the years, but what I had for them at this point was a single-volume paperback for Defined and a back-half paperback for Discovered. So, if I wanted to read the old stuff through again before the new stuff, I needed to get the very beginning.

And now I did. Look for a Book-a-Day post sometime this fall on either Discovered (under normal circumstances) or Discovered and Defined together (if I get ambitious). For now, you could look at this very, very early post on this blog about Defined, where I spent way too much time being amazed that I was writing about comics.

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