Monday, December 24, 2018

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/22/18

Surprisingly, I do have books to write about this week -- three books came in from the Great Publicity Machine, and I bought one. (Hey, I was ordering a lot of presents online, so what if a book for me just happened to find its way into the cart along the way?)

The three books from the GPM are the first three novels of L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Saga of Recluce fantasy series: The Magic of Recluce, The Towers of the Sunset, and The Magic Engineer. I can't tell you much about that series personally -- I read one of them (I think slightly later than these initial three) quite a long time ago, and liked it but didn't manage to read forward or backward in the series from that point. But it's a well-regarded, interesting fantasy series that's avoided all of the usual epic-fantasy junk and has ranged up and down a long, complex timeline for nearly thirty years. I think it can be seen as the grand-daddy of a lot of later "industrial fantasy" series, too -- it's big and interesting and influential and full of different things, with novels that almost all stand alone.

All good stuff. So it's nice to see Tor is reinvigorating it from the beginning with excellent, atmospheric new covers by Marc Simonetti. (See their blog for a post about the new art.) The three covers are all one triptych painting, so here's the whole thing in one:

And the book I bought myself was also, coincidentally, from Tor:  The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, a Lovecraftian story (pretty obviously, from the title) by Kij Johnson. I like modern reworkings of Lovecraftian material: he made such a rich world, full of creepy and quirky stuff, much of which can be unpacked repeatedly in different ways over multiple generations. And Lovecraft's personal unpleasantnesses gives a reason for successive writers to want to mine what good they can find in those works, too. I've been looking for this one for a while, since I've heard good things about it and Johnson's work in general. Plus, I'm really fond of novellas-as-books these days.

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