Monday, June 27, 2022

Reviewing the Mail: Week of June 25, 2022

So, the next few weeks of "Reviewing the Mail" will be a slight cheat. I recently got a big box of remainders from HamiltonBook - which, as always, I recommend for people like me who enjoy diving through vast lists of books and finding odd cheap things to buy.

And I'm going to parcel that big box out into three weekly posts, because I don't enjoy sitting here and typing stuff about twelve books all at once. And the box fairly cleanly falls into three categories, or at least I can divide it into three categories.

First up is Skiffy, four books of SFF by names that may be familiar:

The Arrest is the 2020 novel by Jonathan Lethem, who I think of as a writer I read regularly but just realized the only thing I've covered in the fifteen-year life of this blog was his Omega the Unknown comic. So I guess I haven't read any of his novels in at least a decade. This is one of those cozy catastrophes, all about the people left behind, where we're probably not supposed to think about how billions of people died of starvation or something. In this case, it's a world where "cars, guns, computers, and airplanes, for starters" stopped working, which means megadeaths within days (see: food distribution). I expect that won't impinge on the book at all, which is about a former-screenwriter and his asshole ex-friend.

Lethem is a good writer, but he's also someone I always find myself arguing with in my head - non-fiction, comics, or novels, doesn't matter - which is good intellectual exercise even if it's not always entertaining in the normal way.

Hummingbird Salamander is Jeff VanderMeer's most recent novel, a standalone thing that I think is somewhere between an ecothriller and SF. (Or maybe both. Probably some fungus, too.) VanderMeer is a writer I think I do like, and keep gathering his books without ever reading them at half the speed I acquire them. I have no explanation for this phenomenon.

The Sundering is the middle book of Walter Jon Williams' "Dread Empire's Fall" space opera trilogy; I think the series has grown at least two books since them. I had the original mass-market paperbacks of this series on a shelf, and I was expecting to read the three of them straight through for a potential SFBC omnibus, but then I was no longer in a position to buy books for the SFBC, and I kinda stopped reading all of the thing I had on that for-work list. I then lost those original books in my 2011 flood.

But I've read just about everything else Williams has written - he's a great, versatile writer who has done many different things really well - so I might just find time to read a big space opera series, as long as it's from him. So I'm gathering these again.

And Interlibrary Loan is Gene Wolfe's last, posthumous novel. I have no idea if he actually finished it before he died, and I'm not confident I would be able to tell, anyway - Wolfe was always a tricky, sneaky writer who left out vast swaths of what other writers would consider vitally important information.

Amazon seems to think this is a sequel to A Borrowed Man, which I have but have not read, and the titles/ideas certainly line up. So they may be right.

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