Monday, December 31, 2018

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/29/18

This is the last Reviewing the Mail post for the year, and I thought it would be purely Christmas gifts -- most of which, I have to admit, are things I bought myself to unwrap, since I've reached that age when no one knows what I want half as well as I do.

But one last publicity book snuck in just under the deadline: literally, since it arrived on Saturday, December 29th. (I guess I may get mail the day this posts, but I'm not expecting anything -- and I won't list that until next week, in 2019.)

Anyway, there will be a number of books I bought later down in the post, and I'm not going to make any serious distinction between the ones I bought and let my wife wrap, the ones other members of my family bought from my wish list, and the ones I bought and just took away. But, first, comes that Last Publicity Book of 2018:

Hilo: Then Everything Went Wrong, the fifth book in a middle-grade action-adventure SF graphic novel series by Judd Winick. (I read the first one and wrote about it in a long everything-I've-read-over-two-months post in the summer of 2015.) The robot kid Hilo is still traveling with two Earth kids, and sometime since book 1 they picked up a robot girl (Izzy) -- and at the beginning of this book, they're reunited with Dr. Horizon, who created them. This is a series for kids much younger than me (and my two sons, who are both officially adults as of a few days ago), but it seems to be awesome for those kids. It goes on sale January 29th from Random House Books for Young Readers.

Then the rest of it:

Shadowbahn is the new novel by Steve Erickson, and, no, I'm not going to explain the difference between Steven Erikson and Steve Erickson again. Erickson was first and he's one of the great visionary writers of our time. I won't describe this one, because I haven't read it yet -- but, for a taste of Erickson, let me link back to a post about his first novel Days Between Stations, which I re-read this year.

The Not-Quite States of America is a hybrid travel/history book by Doug Mack, which got great reviews and which I've been vaguely looking for recently. Mack visited all of the territories and commonwealths and other political entities connected to the US that are not states, and wrote about them all.

Killing Commendatore is the new novel by Haruki Murakami, whom I've been following since A Wild Sheep Chase back in the mid-80s. (And which I've been thinking it's about time to revisit.) I've been slowly liking each new Murakami book less and less this past decade -- in reverse order, Men Without Women, his finally-translated first two novels Wind/Pinball, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, 1Q84, the novella The Strange Library, the short-story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, and After Dark. (I seem not to have written at any length about Kafka on the Shore, which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the year I was a judge -- maybe that's best.) I expect to read this and grumble about it sometime in 2019, but perhaps it will surprise me.

The Labyrinth Index is the ninth novel in Charles Stross's magnificent Laundry series. (The series seems to have quietly lost the word "Files" sometime, at least on the card page.) The previous book was The Delirium Brief, and that post has links back to what I wrote about the earlier books. I don't read nearly as much SFF as I used to, so my saying this is my favorite series possibly doesn't have the punch it once did -- but it's been my favorite series since about 2005, back when I was reading a huge swath of the field.

Exit Strategy is the fourth novella-as-book and concluding volume of "The Murderbot Diaries" by Martha Wells, and I already have a bookmark in it. I actually expect to finish it before this post goes live; it's already been pushed back a few days in my reading queue by Book-A-Day stuff.

The Finder Library, Vol. 2 by Carla Speed McNeil probably doesn't need too much explanation: it collects four more books/storylines from her medium-future SF series. I did grumble a bit about the world-building when I wrote about Volume One earlier this year, but I always do that: she's great with characterization and plot and with writing and drawing intricate detailed worlds that feel real.

And last is Royalboiler, an art book by Brandon Graham, the cartoonist of Multiple Warheads and King City. If all goes according to plan, I'll read this today (the day this post is going live) to finish up Book-A-Day. Hey, I'm on vacation!

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