Monday, September 20, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/18/21

This week, I have two upcoming books from the fine folks at Tachyon, which I will dive into without further ado:

The Peculiarities is a new novel by David Liss, author of A Conspiracy of Paper and a bunch of other novels. His name is oddly familiar; I think because I've had his The Ethical Assassin on my to-read shelves for years, and I keep pulling it down and looking at it but haven't actually read the whole thing. It looks like he's had one of those interestingly meandering literary careers: he's written some comics and a Spider-Man novel recently, did a middle-grade SF trilogy before that, but most of his books are historical mystery/thrillers in deeply researched time periods.

Peculiarities is not a historical novel, exactly, I've poked into the afterword and other bits enough to see that this is an alternate rather than a secret history; some things will be different from the way the real world was. This one also has supernatural elements, and I'm not sure if his straight-historical books did - so it's a conspiracy-thriller set in Victorian London, with a clueless young man thrown in over his head. (That all sounds very Tim-Powers-ian, which I am entirely in favor of; I'd love more books like that.) This was just published in trade paperback at the beginning of September.

I try not to be too obvious in my editorial comments when listing new books - everyone likes different things - but I have to admit that the title of this next one gives me at least a minor case of the squicks: Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror. I'm not crazy about horror at the best of times, and adding "extreme" and "body" in the mix makes me think I may not be the right reader for this one.

But you may well be! It's edited by Ellen Datlow, who knows horror short fiction better than anyone, and it collects 29 stories from the '80s through the modern day, by all of the classic and modern names that you would expect. So, if you are in the mood for a body-horror anthology, you are never going to find a better one than this. It will be published on October 19th, in the traditional season for horror.

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