Monday, April 12, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/10/21

Four books this time out -- one from the library and three from the Gods of Publicity. As my religion demands, the latter must be praised first:

Unity is the first novel by Elly Bangs, post-apocalyptic SF in a world that seems to be rumbling fitfully towards another, even more definitive apocalypse. Its main characters live in what's left of civilization, an underwater city (what seems to be one of several, parts of new polities with their own struggles potentially leading to that second apocalypse), but leave that to explore what's up above on the land. I suspect there might be some kind of hive-mind thing going on, too, but I'm allergic to that, so I hope not. It's a trade paperback from Tachyon, hitting stores on April 13.

How to Mars is also a SF novel, this time by David Ebenbach. It may officially be a debut SF novel, but Ebenbach wrote one previous novel (Miss Portland), several collections of stories (including the amusingly titled The Guy We Didn't Invite to the Orgy and Other Stories), non-fiction, and several poetry collections. This one looks lighter, and I just accidentally read the first five pages, so it's fun and easy to get into. It's the story of a scientific expedition/reality show on Mars, and the six scientists stuck there for the rest of their lives, as told by the one of them who learns in sentence one that his scientist girlfriend is pregnant, a thing which was supposed to be impossible. It also looks to be told mostly in first person and partially in quirky ways, which I am a sucker for, so I'm going to try to get to this one quickly if I can. It's also from Tachyon, publishing on May 25.

Robot Artists and Black Swans collects Bruce Sterling's "Italian Fantascienza" stories, which he wrote "as" Bruno Argento (this looks to have been an, at best, Nora-Roberts-as-JD-Robb thing rather than a solid pseudonym). The nine stories here were published various places, a few of them only in Italian, and this is the first time they're all collected together. I think these stories are not set in a shared universe -- what they share is "being Italian," in some sense I don't quite understand yet -- but are all "by" this alter-ego of Sterling and their SFnalness is particularly Italian. This is also from Tachyon, and has already been loosed upon the world, hitting stores at the end of March.

And from the library is The Adventures of Tintin, Vol.5, collecting three of Herge's stories from the 1950s, including the two most obviously SFnal entries in the series. (The ones with "Moon" in the title, because Tintin goes there. Because a moon mission obviously needs a Belgian boy reporter who has never filed a story in his life.) Anyway, I never read these as a kid, so I've been getting to them slowly in my middle years: so far, I'm finding them well-done adventure stories that are thoroughly of their time and place, but still enjoyable. Let's see if these strike me any differently!

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