Sunday, August 31, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 8/30/2008)

Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell - I read this a few weeks ago and posted my review a couple of weeks ago as well. Buckell continues to tell terrific stories in a wonderfully created far future. From my review:
Space Pirates vs. Space Zombies – This is just one way to give a brief snapshot of what to expect in Tobias Buckell’s latest space opera, Sly Mongoose. This rip-roaring novel is the third in a sequence of novels beginning with Crystal Rain, continuing in Ragamuffin, as well as some of Buckell’s short fiction and matches up as well with the previous entries.

Over the course of three novels, Buckell has revealed a galaxy with rich backdrop, one whose cultures truly standout from much of his contemporaries. The Caribbean flavored galaxy, mixed with some Mexican cultures provides a very unique extrapolation of today’s world onto a grand scale.
Icarus at the Edge of Time by Brian Greene - From one of America’s leading physicists—a moving and visually stunning futuristic reimagining of the Icarus fable.

The starship Proxima is on a twenty-five-trillion mile journey. Icarus was born on the ship as was his father and his father’s father, but there will be two more generations before the Proxima reaches its destination. As the tale begins, the Proxima is making an emergency diversion to avoid a black hole. Icarus wants to get a closer look. Although his father explains that when something goes into a black hole it never comes out, Icarus is confident that he can journey to the black hole’s edge and still make it back. He sneaks one of the Runabout ships out of the docking station and sets off to explore the black hole on his own. The result is unexpected and startling. Icarus returns to find his world profoundly and forever transformed.

In Icarus at the Edge of Time Brian Greene has given us a fable about fathers and sons, curiosity and wisdom, and the complexity of the universe as only a physicist of his range and lucidity could. Designed by Chip Kidd—with full-color images from the Hubble Space Telescope—it is destined to be a classic for all ages.

Orcs by Stan Nicholls - I’ve seen very varying opinions on Nichollss’s work, but this does look interesting and Orbit is making a pretty big push with this omnibus of three novels and a short story.

"Look at me. Look at the Orc."

"There is fear and hatred in your eyes. To you I am a monster, a skulker in the shadows, a fiend to scare your children with. A creature to be hunted down and slaughtered like a beast in the fields.

It is time you pay heed to the beast. And see the beast in yourself. I have your fear. But I have earned your respect.

Hear my story. Feel the flow of blood and be thankful. Thankful that it was me, not you, who bore the sword. Thankful to the orcs; born to fight, destined to win peace for all."

This book will change the way you feel about Orcs forever.

American Widow by Alissa R. Torres and illustrated by Sungyoon Choi - Synopsis

On September 10, 2001, Eddie Torres started his dream job at Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The next morning, he said goodbye to his 7½-months-pregnant wife, Alissa, and headed out the door.

In an instant, Alissa’s world was thrown into chaos. Forced to deal with unimaginable challenges, Alissa suddenly found herself cast into the role of “9/11 widow,” tossed into a storm of bureaucracy, politics, patriotism, mourning, consolation, and, soon enough, motherhood.

Beautifully and thoughtfully illustrated, American Widow is the affecting account of one woman’s journey through shock, pain, birth, and rebirth in the aftermath of a great tragedy. It is also the story of a young couple’s love affair: how a Colombian immigrant and a strong-minded New Yorker met, fell in love, and struggled to fulfill their dreams. Above all, American Widow is a tribute to the resilience of the human heart and the very personal story of how one woman endured a very public tragedy.

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy #1) by Brent Weeks New book from a new author, which looks interesting and with the thief/assassin character, it will likely draw comparisons of some sort to Scott Lynch. I’ll give it a try with reservations if only because of my bad experience with Karen Miller’s Empress..

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Kyllar Stern, survival is essential. As a guild rat, he’s learned to judge people quickly-and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, he must turn his back on everything he has ever known.

The perfect killer has no friends. He only has targets

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Poll: Which of the genre mega-Web sites do you find yourself visiting the most?

I was thinking of posting a poll like this since I posted the first one last week, but Pat sort of beat me to it. That’s fine, but I beat him to the punch with the my David Louis Edelman interview after he published MultiReal.

Anyway, there’s been quite a bit of chatter about the genre catch-all Web sites that two of the major US publishers launched in recent months: & Suvudu.

I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I hold off until I see the voting results and whether or not they match up with my internet inclinations.

Which of the genre mega-Web sites do you find yourself visiting the most?

SF Signal
None of them
All of them

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where's the City at the End of Time?

Well, two weeks in a row with two not-so-positive reviews posted at SFFWorld by yours truly. This time round its Greg Bear’s City at the End of Time, a novel for which I held some hope since I enjoyed some of his earlier Science Fiction novels, as well as his foray into Fantasy – Songs of Earth and Power. The story had some interesting concepts, but ultimately, the narrative didn’t hold together too well for me. I could be wrong and this could be the case of the book just not working for me, since I’ve seen some positive buzz and chatter 'round the intarwebs for the book. Well, at least I think John Clute’s review is positive. I often feel less intelligent after reading most of his reviews.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Detective Wizards, Vampire Hunters, and Werewolves Oh My! (Redux)

The latest discussion making the rounds (at least on my blogroll) is about the whole Urban Fantasy/Supernatural Fantasy/Wizard Detective/Vampire Hunter/Monster Hunter/P.I. In Fantasyland glut of novels that are selling like hotcakes nowadays.

I wrote up a Spotlight blog post back in February, (and we've got pretty active discussion on the topic at SFFWorld) but what spurned this latest go-round is John's newest ask the bloggers feature at Grasping for the Wind: Ask the Bloggers: Urban Fantasy and the Next Big Subgenre.
Larry at OFBlog chimed in and, as is often the case, he makes sense and gets me thinking again. What I didn't say in my original post (and did mention in my response to Larry's linked post) is this: When the Urban Fantasy label was thrown around, oh, maybe 3 to 5 years ago, I think a lot of what we meant was stuff like Charles de Lint, some of what Neil Gaiman was doing, some of what Emma Bull was doing. Stories with more of a mythic flavor that didn't quite mold to the detective story or a series of stories centered on a primary protagonist. I know many of de Lint's stories are told in and around the setting of Newford, but outside of a small collection of stories, most didn't center on a "hero" or protagonist on whom the overall story is centered, from what I've gathered.

Aidan's recent article "Fantasy Oversaturation?" also brought to light this sub-genre in his article. Which also got me thinking of how my reading tastes have shifted over the past few years. As I say in my response to Aidan's article, I find myself drawn to Science Fiction and the Dresden/Marla Mason/Vampire Hunter stuff more in the past couple of years than Epic/Secondary World Fantasy. More consideration for thought as to why, though.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 08/23/2008)

Outside of the one book I've already read and the anthology from below, all these books are sequels or part of a series. I haven't read any of the previous books in any of those series, but maybe I'll try that experiment with one of them. That is, jump in the middle of the series and see how it the book reads. We'll see, here's the list of arrivals.

Riders of the Storm (Book # 2 of the Stratification) by Julie Czerneda Riders of the Storm picks up the story of the Om’ray on Cersi. Led by Aryl Sarc into the mountains, the exiles from Yena Clan face not only the novelty of life on the ground, but their first winter. But the mountains hold a secret from the past that will change forever how the Om’ray view themselves, their world, and their place in it.

Another author who has been on my radar for a while, but haven't gotten around to reading yet.

The Proteus Sail Again by Thomas M. Disch - In this sequel to The Voyage of the Proteus the action shifts from the wine-dark, action-packed seas of Homeric Greece to the noir and noirer streets of post-Apocalyptic New York, where the Author confronts threats of eviction, of murder, and of the extinction of his very identity. Standing by to help are his old shipmate from the Proteus, Socrates, who has become the post-modern equivalent of the Flying Dutchman, eternally blown about from port to sleazy port, and you, the Gentle Reader, a character sometimes mentioned in other novels but never before shown in the round, warts and all.

A famous aged starlet is murdered, radical vegans bomb MacDonald's, and a ferocious Irish Wolfhound named Terror savagely attacks the Author and his loyal and steadfast comrade, Harry, a lhasa apso, in the great tradition of canine superstars, a dog who can take his place beside Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, or Asta.

Anyone interested in the future History of Mankind and of our imperiled planet should not miss this shocking and heart-warming adventure extraordinary rises.

Imaginary Friends edited by Martin Greenberg and John Marco - We’ve all had them. We’ve all needed them. In this fun fantasy anthology, readers are given thirteen variations on what kinds of friends come in handy indeed in times of need. From a toy Canadian Mountie who suddenly comes to life, to a boy and his dragon, to a young woman held captive in a tower and the mysterious being who is her only companion, these highly imaginative tales entertainingly explore the nature of what constitutes a “real” friendship. Writers whose stories included in this anthology include: Anne Bishop, Jean Rabe, Juliet McKenna, Kristen Britain, Donald J. Bingle, Tim Waggoner, and Jim C. Hines.

The Soldier King by Violette Malan - A new novel of high fantasy and adventure featuring martial arts masters Dhulyn and Parno.

Fulfilling their Mercenary contract, Dhulyn and Parno have accepted the surrender of Prince Edmir, heir to the Tegriani Realm. The Common Rule of the Mercenary Brothers states that prisoners taken by them go free and unharmed. But when the War Commander who hired them refuses to honor this agreement, the duo break their contract and escape with the prince. And thus they take the first step along a path that might lead Dhulyn to the truth about her past—or bring them to a magical trap from which there may be no escape.

Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi - I’ve been talking about his book for the past couple of weeks; Tor sent me the finished/final book this past week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poll Added

For the hell of it, I added a poll to my sidebar. This may be a continuing feature.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shadow Pavilion Reviewed and other Stuff

My latest review, The Shadow Pavilion by Liz Williams, went up at SFFWorld yesterday. Although I enjoyed the first two Detective Chen books (Snake Agent and The Demon and the City), this one didn’t work so well for me. I don’t know if it was I who couldn’t connect with the book as well as I did with the previous novels in this series or if the book just wasn’t as good as the others. As I say in my review, I found some elements, particularly the plot to be somewhat of a rehash, but I also really liked how Williams continues to flesh out the cosmology of the world.

In other news, two books I recently reviewed are now on bookshelves, both physical and virtual, as of today. John Scalzi’s Zoe’s Tale and Tobias Buckell’s Sly Mongoose.

Over the weekend, while sunning in my pool with Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff, I finished up Caine Black Knife. Wow. Stover again turned out a great novel, and at this point my favorite book of the year. It was a great novel in many respects, but I’ll go into two right now: (1) It was all Caine all the time and that just can’t be a bad thing on any world and (2) Stover sort of reinvented his writing style for this book. Not that the previous two novels were overly bulky (they were bigger books), but his style here was more pared down and in some respects, reminded me of some of Roger Zelazny’s novels and writing. I’ll save a lot of my thoughts for the review I’m writing, which will take awhile to craft. Suffice to say, I loved the book and like most of Stover's novels, this one left me wanting more.

Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff and I caught Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Friday afternoon. (Gotta love the summer hours work schedule). I enjoyed it more than Episodes I & II, despite completely realizing it was a bit more for kids and basically an advertisement for the upcoming Clone Wars animated series. If Lucas wants to make another few million dollars in licensing, all he needs to do is make and market a Rotta the Hutlett plushie. Anyway, maybe the reason I enjoyed it is because I knew it was just a glorified commercial and wasn’t expecting too much. Still, for a $6 matinee, it wasn’t a bad way to pass along 100 minutes in the summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 08/16/2008)

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory - I received the ARC back in may, the actual book arrived this week. I'll be getting to it soon.

It is a world like our own in every respect . . . save one. In the 1950s, random acts of possession begin to occur. Ordinary men, women, and children are the targets of entities that seem to spring from the depths of the collective unconscious, pop-cultural avatars some call demons. There’s the Truth, implacable avenger of falsehood. The Captain, brave and self-sacrificing soldier. The Little Angel, whose kiss brings death, whether desired or not. And a string of others, ranging from the bizarre to the benign to the horrific.

As a boy, Del Pierce is possessed by the Hellion, an entity whose mischief-making can be deadly. With the help of Del’s family and a caring psychiatrist, the demon is exorcised . . . or is it? Years later, following a car accident, the Hellion is back, trapped inside Del’s head and clamoring to get out.

Del’s quest for help leads him to Valis, an entity possessing the science fiction writer formerly known as Philip K. Dick; to Mother Mariette, a nun who inspires decidedly unchaste feelings; and to the Human League, a secret society devoted to the extermination of demons. All believe that Del holds the key to the plague of possession–and its solution. But for Del, the cure may be worse than the disease.

The January Dancer by Michael Flynn - Starting with Captain Amos January, who quickly loses it, and then the others who fought, schemed, and killed to get it, we travel around the complex, decadent, brawling, mongrelized interstellar human civilization the artifact might save or destroy. Collectors want the Dancer; pirates take it, rulers crave it, and they’ll all kill if necessary to get it. This is a thrilling yarn of love, revolution, music, and mystery, and it ends, as all great stories do, with shock and a beginning.
This books sports a great cover and will be part of the SciFi Essentials promotional effort between Tor and the SciFi network. I've seen good things about Flynn's writing and I've been looking forward to giving one of his books a try for a while, so this is it.

The Gypsy Morph by Terry Brooks - I've said it before, I find him a frustrating writer in that I like the concepts of what he wants to do, but my reading sensibilities don't always agree with his execution of those concepts.
Eighty years into the future, the United States is a no-man’s-land: its landscape blighted by chemical warfare, pollution, and plague; its government collapsed; its citizens adrift, desperate, fighting to stay alive. In fortified compounds, survivors hold the line against wandering predators, rogue militias, and hideous mutations spawned from the toxic environment, while against them all stands an enemy neither mortal nor merciful: demons and their minions bent on slaughtering and subjugating the last of humankind.

But from around the country, allies of good unite to challenge the rampaging evil. Logan Tom, wielding the magic staff of a Knight of the Word, has a promise to keep–protecting the world’s only hope of salvation–and a score to settle with the demon that massacred his family. Angel Perez, Logan’s fellow Knight, has risked her life to aid the elvish race, whose peaceful, hidden realm is marked for extermination by the forces of the Void. Kirisin Belloruus, a young elf entrusted with an ancient magic, must deliver his entire civilization from a monstrous army. And Hawk, the rootless boy who is nothing less than destiny’s instrument, must lead the last of humanity to a latter-day promised land before the final darkness falls.

The Gypsy Morph is an epic saga of a world in flux as the mortal realm yields to a magical one; as the champions of the Word and the Void clash for the last time to decide what will be and what must cease; and as, from the remnants of a doomed age, something altogether extraordinary rises.

The Engine's Child by Holly Philips - Lanterns and flickering bulbs light the shadowy world of the rasnan, the island at the edge of a world-spanning ocean that harbors in its ivory towers and mossy temples the descendants of men and women who long ago fled a world ruined by magical and technological excess. But not all the island's inhabitants are resigned to exile. A mysterious brotherhood seeks to pry open doorways leading back to the ruined, dangerous homeland. Others risk the even greater danger of flight, seeking new lands and new freedoms in the vast, uncharted sea.

Amid a web of conspiracy and betrayal, three people's dreams will threaten to shatter this fragile world. Scheming Lord Ghar, faithful to lost gods and forbidden lore, plays an intricate power game; Lady Vashmarna, an iron-willed ruler, conceals a guilty secret beneath her noble façade; and Moth, a poor, irreverent novice, holds perhaps the darkest power of all: a mysterious link to a shadowy force that may prove humanity's final hope--or its ultimate doom

Afro Samura Vol. 1 by Takashi Okazaki - In the bleak world of the swordsman, it is said that he who becomes the Number 1 samurai shall rule the world. And only Number 2 is allowed to challenge Number 1. Afro Samurai has assumed the mantle of Number 2, seeking vengeance against Number1, a gunman who killed his father years ago. But assassins lurk at every corner, seeking to rob Afro Samurai of the title of Number 2. Can Afro survive long enough to exact his revenge?

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi - It's Scalzi and I've yet to be disappointed yet. This is his first book, which is set to be republished by Tor in NoemberThe space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Zoë’s Tale by John Scalzi

Last night I posted my review of John Scalzi’s latest effort, Zoe’s Tale. At this point, I’ll also congratulate John on winning the Hugo Award for best Fan Writer – his Whatever is a daily destination for me and countless (although John just might know how many) people. Here’s a snippet of my review:
John Scalzi makes for an interesting teenaged girl, in his return (after the briefest of respites) to his Old Man’s War universe with Zoë’s Tale. Ostensibly, this novel retells the events of The Last Colony from the point-of-view of Zoë Boutin Perry, John Perry and Jane Sagan’s adopted daughter. Scalzi has said the book is accessible for teen readers. Note that “accessible for teen readers” is not precisely the same thing as “writing a Young Adult novel,” which makes sense considering the first person POV of the novel is a sixteen year old girl, of a happily married couple.

Character has consistently been a strength of Scalzi’s writing, he has an ear for dialogue and the scenes just flow very smoothly into one another. Although the scenes involving Zoe, Jane, and John (or any combination thereof) are crafted very well, Zoe does her best with her friends and the Obin. Particularly when Zoe and her best friend Gretchen get into involved conversations, the story just flies by and Scalzi reveals just how frustrated Zoe is about her position as saviour and daughter of the head of the colony.
Fiction and reality (in this case, the writer’s life and personality) often intersect in strange ways, some more apparent than others. With John being as popular as he is on the intarwebs, it is almost impossible not to make the connection between some of his work and his life as he’s discussed it on the Whatever. John touches on this point on his blog in mentioning and linking to my review.

This has cropped up in my own writing; in the novel I finished and continue to edit/rewrite. As I re-read it after the first draft was finished, I found myself realizing I injected a good portion of myself into the protagonist. I’m aware of it, but I don’t know if I’ve injected too much or too little. Since I’m still rewriting and adding to the story, that question remains unanswered for now.

Regardless of anything else, Zoe’s Tale is a terrific novel and does what I think John wanted it to do – it made me (as the reader) laugh, turn the pages fast, and think about some real issues.

Monday, August 11, 2008

MEME: Top 48 Sci-Fi Film Adaptations

Nicked from SF Signal

From Box Office Mojo's list of Top 48 Sci-Fi Films Based on a Book (or Story) (1980- present). Some of the titles on this list look suspicious. (Was Cocoon really based on a piece of written fiction? There's a difference between an adaptation and a novelization.)

Here are the rules.

  • Copy the list below.
  • Mark in bold the movie titles for which you read the book.
  • Italicize the movie titles for which you started the book but didn't finish it.
  • Tag 5 people to perpetuate the meme. (You may of course play along anyway.)

And now, the list...
1. Jurassic Park
2. War of the Worlds
3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
4. I, Robot
5. Contact
6. Congo
7. Cocoon
8. The Stepford Wives
9. The Time Machine
10. Starship Troopers
11. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
12. K-PAX
13. 2010
14. The Running Man
15. Sphere
16. The Mothman Prophecies
17. Dreamcatcher
18. Blade Runner(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
19. Dune
20. The Island of Dr. Moreau
21. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
22. The Iron Giant(The Iron Man)
23. Battlefield Earth
24. The Incredible Shrinking Woman
25. Fire in the Sky
26. Altered States
27. Timeline
28. The Postman
29. Freejack(Immortality, Inc.)
30. Solaris
31. Memoirs of an Invisible Man
32. The Thing(Who Goes There?)
33. The Thirteenth Floor
34. Lifeforce(Space Vampires)
35. Deadly Friend
36. The Puppet Masters
37. 1984
38. A Scanner Darkly
39. Creator
40. Monkey Shines
41. Solo(Weapon)
42. The Handmaid's Tale
43. Communion
44. Carnosaur
45. From Beyond
46. Nightflyers
47. Watchers
48. Body Snatchers

I tag:
Pat of the Fantasy Hotlist
John of Grasping for the Wind
Aidan of A Dribble of Ink
Adam of the Wertzone
Neil Gaiman (why not?)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 8/9/2008)

The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker - First came Edgar Rice Burroughs' view of the Red Planet, then the romance of Leigh Brackett, the poetic visions of Ray Bradbury, and the hard sf underpinnings of Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy. Now, added to that estimable list, we have Kage Baker, who makes Earth’s nearest neighbor all her own. When the British Arean Company founded its Martian colony, it welcomed any settlers it could get to undertake the grueling task of terraforming the cold red planet. Outcasts, misfits and dreamers emigrated there in droves--only to be abandoned when the BAC discovered it couldn’t turn a profit on Mars. This is the story of Mary Griffith, a determined woman with three daughters, who opened the only place to buy a beer on the Tharsis Bulge. It’s the story of Manco Inca, whose attempt to terraform Mars brought a new goddess vividly to life; of Stanford Crosley, con man extraordinaire; of Ottorino Vespucci, space cowboy and romantic hero; of the Clan Morrigan, of the denizens of the Martian Motel, and of the machinations of another Company entirely, all of whom contribute to the downfall of the BAC and the founding of a new world.

Based on the Hugo-nominated novella of the same name, The Empress of Mars is a rollicking novel of action, offworld romance and high adventure.

Acacia Book One: The War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham – I read and reviewed this just before it published about a year ago. The copy that came in the mail this week was/is the mass market paperback. A nice looking one at that. From my review:
David Anthony Durham, already acclaimed as an author of historical novels, switches genres with Acacia Book One: The War with the Mein, the launch of a fantasy trilogy. The land of Acacia is a gilded one, the royals live a life free of struggle while the life that affords them this luxury is one of dark trades and immoral practices, such as drug trafficking, slavery, and human consignment. Durham does a convincing job of both setting up this dichotomy and reinforcing it throughout the novel without brow-beating the subject.

As this review suggested earlier, Durham maintains a palpable level of tension throughout. What he does with even more skill is flavoring the entire novel with an air of mythic resonance. However, this air of myth is something Durham builds slowly. It comes through first in the stories Arkan tells his children about the history and prehistory of their nation and world. In particular, Leodan tells his children the story of Basher and Cashen, two brothers who initially were very close but were ultimately torn apart by their own lust and craving for power. The air of myth builds as further stories and myths are brought into the fold. In the second third of the novel, the style changes somewhat as Durham begins to relay the "where are they now" of the Akaran children with a mythic voice.
Quofum: A Novel of the Commonwealth by Alan Dean Foster - Bestselling author Alan Dean Foster’s new adventure takes place in the amazing Humanx Commonwealth, home of the ever-popular Pip & Flinx. Although the dynamic redhead and his daring minidrag do not appear in Quofum, this knockout thriller sets the stage for their explosive date with destiny in the duo’s final climactic adventure, Flinx Transcendent. The mission to planet Quofum is supposed to be a quickie for Captain Boylan and his crew. Boylan is tasked with delivering four scientists–two men, one woman, and one thranx–to the unknown world, setting up camp while the experts investigate flora and fauna, then ferrying them safely home. The first surprise is that Quofum, which regularly slips in and out of existence on Commonwealth monitors, is actually there when Boylan and company arrive. The second surprise is more about what Quofum is not: The planet is not logical, ordered, or rational.

To Rescue Tanelorn by Michael Moorcock - Elric of Melniboné. The name is like a magic spell, conjuring up the image of an albino champion and his cursed, vampiric sword, Stormbringer. Elric, the last emperor of a cruel and decadent race, rogue and adventurer, hero and murderer, lover and traitor, is mystery and paradox personified–a timeless testament to the creative achievement of Michael Moorcock, the most significant fantasy writer since Tolkien.

Now comes the second in this definitive series of Elric volumes. Gorgeously illustrated by acclaimed artist Michael Wm. Kaluta and including a new Introduction by Michael Moorcock, this collection features, along with Elric, such renowned characters as Erekosë, Rackhir the Red Archer, and Count Renark von Bek. Readers will delight in adventures that include “To Rescue Tanelorn . . .,” “Master of Chaos,” “The Singing Citadel,” “The Black Blade’s Song,” and the novella version of “The Eternal Champion.”

The Company by K.J. Parker - Hoping for a better life, five war veterans colonize an abandoned island. They take with them everything they could possibly need - food, clothes, tools, weapons, even wives. But an unanticipated discovery shatters their dream and replaces it with a very different one. The colonists feel sure that their friendship will keep them together. Only then do they begin to realize that they’ve brought with them rather more than they bargained for.

For one of them, it seems, has been hiding a terrible secret from the rest of the company. And when the truth begins to emerge, it soon becomes clear that the war is far from over.

Just One Bite (A Dead-End Dating Novel) by Kimberly Raye – With comparisons to Bridget Jones Diary and Carrie from Sex in the City, I highly doubt I’ll be reading this one. Lil Marchette, vampire extraordinaire and owner of Manhattan’s hottest hook-up service, is an expert at matching up the lonely and desperate (and sometimes dead). And thanks to the popular local reality dating show Manhattan’s Most Wanted, Lil has plenty of fresh blood to add to the mix–including the biggest, baddest vampire in the Big Apple. Vinnie Balducci, Brooklyn representative for the Snipers of Otherworldly Beings, is making Lil an offer she can’t refuse: find him the perfect woman or she’s going to be swimming with the fishes.

But Lil may not be the only one taking the plunge. The three hunky demon Prince brothers are poking around Lil’s office–hot on the trail of a rogue spirit trying to escape the land down under (not Australia) by possessing some poor, clueless human soul. Then Lil makes a startling discovery: The oblivious human vessel is none other than her loyal assistant, Evie. Between saving Evie from eternal damnation and saving herself from Vinnie’s lethal ultimatum, Lil is sure to be in for the most hellish ride of her afterlife.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell

There seems to be a little bit of backlash about the whole blogger/reviewer open discussion from last week. I suppose that’s to be expected when things tend to get overly dramatic and exaggerated. After all, isn’t that what the internet is for, if not for porn? Andrew does a nice job of settling some of us back down to reality.

Back onto normal scheduling though, as I posted my review of Tobias Buckell’s latest Xenowealth saga, Sly Mongoose to SFFWorld last night. I’ve been enjoying Buckell’s hybrid saga for a while now, having read the previous two novels (Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin) as well as a couple of the short stories set in this universe. There’s a really cool mix of cultures in his far flung culture, with Caribbean and Mexican flavoring all over the place. In addition, the stories are often a blend of genres, from space opera to mystery to steampunk to dystopia with some feel of fantasy to them as well. The words of these terrific novels have been wrapped with some great covers by Todd Lockwood.

He’s got three novels in three years, a forthcoming short story collection, and a Halo novel coming out later in the year? Not bad, not bad at all especially when the quantity and the quality are both pretty high.

Although I assume Pat and I share many of the same visitors, it is worth noting that he posted some more fantastic artwork from the forthcoming Subterranean Press edition of Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 08/03)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed by Sean Williams – I’ll be reading this vide game adaptation and hopefully be getting the game, too. Since childhood, Vader’s nameless agent has known only the cold, mercenary creed of the Sith. His past is a void; his present, the carrying out of his deadly orders. But his future beckons like a glistening black jewel with the ultimate promise: to stand beside the only father he has ever known, with the galaxy at their feet. It is a destiny he can realize only by rising to the greatest challenge of his discipleship: destroying Emperor Palpatine.

The apprentice’s journeys will take him across the far reaches of the galaxy, from the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk to the junkyard planet of Raxus Prime. On these missions, the young Sith acolyte will forge an unlikely alliance with a ruined Jedi Master seeking redemption and wrestle with forbidden feelings for his beautiful comrade, Juno Eclipse. And he will be tested as never before–by shattering revelations that strike at the very heart of all he believes and stir within him long-forgotten hopes of reclaiming his name . . . and changing his destiny.

Stalking the Unicorn by Mike Resnick – This is the first John Justin Mallory novel, which I’m looking forward to reading. I’ve read some of the shorts featuring this character and really enjoyed them.

Join detective Mallory on a New Year's night of wild adventure in a fantasy Manhattan of leprechauns, gnomes, and Harpies as he matches wits with the all-powerful demon "The Grundy" in a race to find the missing unicorn before time runs out!

Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick – This would be the newest JJM novel, my comments about the above novel apply here.
It’s Halloween, and John Justin Mallory’s partner, Winnifred Carruthers, has been so busy preparing for the biggest holiday of the year (in his Manhattan, anyway) that she seems short of energy and pale. Mallory is worried that she’s been working too hard. Then he notices the two puncture marks on her neck…

The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard - Here are Howard’s greatest horror tales, all in their original, definitive versions. Some of Howard’s best-known characters–Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them–roam the forbidding locales of the author’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa.

The collection includes Howard’s masterpiece “Pigeons from Hell,” which Stephen King calls “one of the finest horror stories of [the twentieth] century,” a tale of two travelers who stumble upon the ruins of a Southern plantation–and into the maw of its fatal secret. In “Black Canaan” even the best warrior has little chance of taking down the evil voodoo man with unholy powers–and none at all against his wily mistress, the diabolical High Priestess of Damballah. In these and other lavishly illustrated classics, such as the revenge nightmare “Worms of the Earth” and “The Cairn on the Headland,” Howard spins tales of unrelenting terror, the legacy of one of the world’s great masters of the macabre.

Son of Man by Robert Silverberg – Another of Pyr’s classic reissues.

Clay is a man from the 20th Century who is somehow caught up in a time-flux and transported into a distant future. The earth and the life on it have changed beyond recognition. Even the human race has evolved into many different forms, now coexisting on the planet. The seemingly omnipotent Skimmers, the tyrannosaur-like Eaters, the sedentary Awaiters, the squid-like Breathers, the Interceders, the Destroyers—all of these are “Sons of Man”. Befriended and besexed by the Skimmers, Clay goes on a journey which takes him around the future earth and into the depths of his own soul. He is human, but what does that mean?

The Age of Conglomerates by Thomas Nevins – I received the ARC of this back in May, what arrived this week is the final book. Now that they are in power, there are no more checks and balances. The Conglomerates, and their mysterious party chairman, have taken over everything and everyone. There is no one left to stop them. Forty years in the future, in a world where Big Brother runs amok, a powerful political party known as the Conglomerates has emerged, vowing to enforce economic martial law at any cost. Dr. Christine Salter, director of genetic development at a New York medical center, is in charge of “genetic contouring,” the much-in-demand science of producing the ideal child. But Christine is increasingly troubled by odd events, including the strange disappearance of Gabriel Cruz, a co-worker for whom she has a developing affection, and the fact that her latest assignment–making the Conglomerate chairman more youthful through genetic engineering–is an especially dangerous task.

Flight Volume 5 - The acclaimed anthology of short graphic fiction sees the fifth volume pulish from Random House's Villard imprint. This volume includes stories by JP Ahonen, Graham Annable, Chris Appelhans, Bannister, Matthew Bernier, Scott Campbell, Svetlana Chmakova, Tony Cliff, Phil Craven, Michel Gagné, Kazu Kibuishi, Kness, Sonny Liew, Reagan Lodge, Made, John Martz, Sarah Mensinga, Ryan North, Richard Pose, Paul Rivoche, Dave Roman, Kean Soo, and Joey Weiser.