Sunday, December 21, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 12/20/2008)

It’s Sunday, so you know what that mean’s here at the Blog o’ Stuff. I tell you, my millions…and millions, of readers the books I received for review the prior week. I of course can’t read all of them, but I don’t want to ignore them either. For shits and giggles, I’ll run a poll for the week - Which of these books is Rob least likely to read?

Mean Streets four novellas by Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, and Thomas E. Sniegoski (Roc , Trade Paperback 01/06/2009) – Butcher’s story is (surprise, surprise) a Harry Dresden story, Green’s is a Nightside novella featuring John Taylor, Richardson’s is a Harper Blaine/Greywalker story and Sniegoski’s novella features Remy Chandler. All in all, it looks a solid collection of Roc’s top Urban Fantasy authors. I've read one and this contains the first of two Green stories in what I received this week.

Airs of Night and Sea (The Horsemistress Saga #3 novel) by Toby Bishop (Ace, Mass Market Paperback 12/30/2008) – This is the third book in a trilogy about women who ride flying horses. Driven by insane jealousy, Duke William is determined to found his own flying school, where the valuable flying horses of Oc will learn to bond with well-born young men-instead of arrogant women. Now, Larkyn Hamley and her beloved Black Seraph must gather all of their allies from the air to the ground. For if they do not soar now, none will ever see the skies again.

Regenesis by CJ Cherryh (DAW, Hardcover 01/06/2009) – This is a sequel to her Hugo-award winning Downbelow Station and Cyteen. I read Downbelow Station when it was the SFFWorld Science Fiction Book Club Selection back in September 2006 and it left me feeling rather meh and nonplussed. It is a genre classic and no doubt a great many people are looking forward to Regenesis

Just Another Judgement Day (The Tenth Novel of the Nightside) by Simon R. Green (Ace, Hardcover 01/06/2009) – Green is an extremely prolific author who goes between several subgenres of Speculative Fiction. The Nightside novels are his take on the ever-growing Urban Fantasy subgenre and since this is the 10th, he’s obviously doing something right. I tried one of his Deathstalker novels years ago and felt neither here nor there about it, but have wanted to give his writing another try so this seems a good book with which to go.

In Shade and Shadow (The Tenth A Novel of the Noble Dead) by Barb and JC Hendee (Roc, Hardcover 01/06/2009) –I’ve been curious about the Noble Dead for a while and this may be an opportunity to give the series a try, since this book in particular is the first of second series in this world. Considering the series began as mass market paperback originals (like E.E. Knights terrific Vampire Earth saga and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, so things seem to be going well for the Hendees. Here’s the snippet:
After escaping the castle of ancient vampires with Magiere and Leesil, Wynn Hygeorht has returned to Calm Seatt, home of the Guild of Sagecraft, bearing texts supposedly penned by vampires from the time of the Forgotten History and the Great War. Her superiors seize both the ancient texts and her personal journals, dismissing her tales of the undead as delusional fancies.

But the guild's scholars have not dismissed the texts. Without Wynn's consent, they begin sending the texts out to scriptoriums for copying. Then one night several pages disappear — and the two sages charged with conveying these pages are murdered. Suspicious of the Guild, separated from the only friends she fully trusts, and convinced the Noble Dead are responsible for the killings, Wynn embarks on a quest to uncover the secrets of the texts, unaware of her allies from unexpected quarters....

The Stepsister Scheme (Princess Series #1) by Jim C. Hines (DAW Books, Mass Market Paperback January 2009) – After a successful ‘revisionist humorous’ trilogy detailing the exploits of Jig the Goblin, Jim C. Hines turns his pen to the fairytale princess most often associated with the Disney films. Here, the princesses and their life “happily ever after” are given a modern twist as Charlie’s Angels type kick-butt women. I’ve been intending to try his novels for a while and this seems a great spot. Jim runs a great blog / LiveJournal, particularly the now defunct lol cats book cover features and seems an affable and generous writer.

Getting to Know You by David Marusek (Del Rey, Trade Paperback 12/30/2008) – I received the ARC of this back in September and with the publication date ‘round the corner, the final Trade Paperback version arrived. David Marusek has been on my radar since his debut novel, Counting Heads, was released almost two three years ago now, to much acclaim. His short stories have won awards (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award) and acclaim as well. This collection was originally offered as a limited edition by Subterranean Press last year.

The Vacant Throne (Throne of Amenkor #3) by Joshua Palmatier (DAW Books, Mass Market Paperback January 2009) – Joshua sent me the trilogy two weeks ago and I received the third of the trilogy this past week in paperback from DAW.

The city is on the brink of starvation, and the trading ships sent out to bring back supplies needed to feed the city have disappeared without a trace. Both Varis and Eryn, the former Mistress, are obsessed with a vision they alone share of Amenkor invaded by an unknown enemy, the harbor watchtowers destroyed, wrecked ships sinking in waters stained red with blood, even as the city itself is engulfed in flames. . . .

Then their vision comes true, and, forced to draw on all of Amenkor's remaining resources, both ordinary and magical, Varis must fight a desperate battle for the city's survival against these ruthless invaders known as the Chorl. But victory is not without its price. And perhaps that price is too high, as the very heart and soul of Amenkor's power, the Skewed Throne, is irrevocably damaged--totally drained of the magic, knowledge, life force, and memories of previous rulers.

The city's last hope lies with its sometime ally, the city of Venitte, rumored to be home to the only throne that is twin in power to Amenkor's, the two created at the same time by a magical working which no one can now duplicate.

The Vampire Agent (A The Annals of Alchemy and Blood #2 novel) by Patricia Rosemoor and Marc Paoletti (Del Rey , Mass Market Paperback 12/30/2008) – On the sultry streets of New Orleans, Captain Scott Boulder and Leah Maguire are about to begin a deadly mission. The traumatized, genetically altered subjects of a Department of Defense experiment gone wrong have escaped, among them Rachel Ackart, a beautiful, seductive, and powerful woman–who is now under the dangerous influence of Andre Espinoza de Madrid, a vampire of incomparable evil and power.

Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover (Del Rey, Hardcover December 30, 2008) – Any year with oneMatthew Stover is cause for reading celebration; a year with two Stover novels is just awesome. His Star Wars novels are the cream of the crop, and his novelization of Episode III is head and shoulders above the film itself. This is Stover’s crack at the original heroes (Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Lando) with the story set shortly after Return of the Jedi. Clearly, this will be put atop the “To Be Read” pile.

Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader are dead. The Empire has been toppled by the triumphant Rebel Alliance, and the New Republic is ascendant. But the struggle against the dark side and the Sith order is not over. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and their faithful comrades have had little time to savor victory before being called on to defend the newly liberated galaxy.

Powerful remnants of the vanquished Empire, hungry for retaliation, are still at large, committing acts of piracy, terrorism, and wholesale slaughter against the worlds of the fledgling Republic. The most deadly of these, a ruthless legion of black-armored stormtroopers, do the brutal bidding of the newly risen warlord Shadowspawn. Striking from a strategically advantageous base at the planet Mindor, they are waging campaigns of plunder and destruction, demolishing order and security across the galaxy—and breeding fears of an Imperial resurgence. And another reign of darkness beneath the boot-heel of Sith despotism is something General Luke Skywalker cannot and will not risk.

Mobilizing the ace fighters of Rogue Squadron—along with the trusty Chewbacca, Threepio, and Artoo-Detoo—Luke, Han, and Leia set out to take the battle to the enemy at the site of its stronghold, and neutralize the threat before it's too late. But their imminent onslaught against Mindor will be playing directly into the hands of their cunning new adversary. Lord Shadowspawn is no freshly anointed Sith Chieftain, but in fact a vicious former Imperial Intelligence officer—and Prophet of the Dark Side. The Emperor's death has paved the way for Shadowspawn's return from exile in the Outer Rim; and mastery of ancient Sith knowledge and modern technology has given him the capability to mount the ultimate power play for galaxy-wide dominion. Dark prophecy has foretold that only one obstacle stands in his way, and he is ready—even eager—for the confrontation.

All the classic heroes, all the explosive action and adventure, all the unparalleled excitement of Star Wars come breathlessly alive here, as the further adventures of Luke Skywalker continue.

Eclipse Two edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books , Trade Paperback December 2008) – I thought (Eclipse One) was a strong collection. When the TOC for this volume was announced it caused a considerable stir and a great deal of undue ire aimed at Jonathan Strahan. Regardless of that, new stories from Jeff Ford, Alastair Reynolds, Ted Chiang, and Margo Lanagan are always good things.

Here’s the TOC:

Introduction - Jonathan Strahan
The Hero - Karl Schroeder
Turing's Apples - Stephen Baxter
Invisible Empire of Ascending Light - Ken Scholes
Michael Laurits is: Drowning - Paul Cornell
Night of the Firstlings - Margo Lanagan
Elevator - Nancy Kress
The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm - Daryl Gregory
Exhalation - Ted Chiang
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom - David Moles
The Rabbi's Hobby - Peter S. Beagle
The Seventh Expression of the Robot General - Jeffrey Ford
Skin Deep - Richard Parks
Ex Cathedra - Tony Daniel
Truth Window: A Tale of the Bedlam Rose - Terry Dowling
Fury - Alastair Reynolds

The Jennifer Morgue (Book Two of the Laundry Series) by Charles Stross (Ace, Trade Paperback 01/06/2009) – This I’ve a handful of stuff by Stross, most recently (Saturn’s Children) but have yet to read any of these stories which sound like a really cool marriage of James Bond and Cthulu.

When he's not trying to save the world from unearthly horrors, Bob Howard — an agent for the British supersecret organization known simply as The Laundry — has time sheets to complete and field liaison meetings to attend. (And don't get Bob started on how much he despises corporate PowerPoint presentations!)

In The Jennifer Morgue, Lovecraft meets Ian Fleming in this highly anticipated new "Bob Howard" adventure from Charles Stross, author of the 2005 Hugo Award-winning novella "The Concrete Jungle."

In 1975, the CIA made an ill-fated attempt to raise a sunken Soviet ballistic missile submarine from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. At least, "ill-fated" was the information leaked to the press. In reality, the team salvaged a device, codenamed "Gravedust," that permitted communication with the dead — the very long dead. Enter Ellis Billington, glamorous software billionaire, who has acquired Gravedust by devious means. Billington plans to raise an eldritch horror, codenamed "Jennifer Morgue," from the vasty deeps, and communicate with this dead warrior for the purpose of ruling the world. Worse still, he's prepared occult defenses that can only be penetrated by one agent walking a perilous path.

But James Bond doesn't work for the Laundry. Instead, they send Bob Howard, geekish demonology hacker extraordinaire. Bob must inveigle his way aboard Billington's yacht, figure out what the villain is up to, and stop him. But there's a fly in Bob's ointment by the name of Ramona Random — a lethal but beautiful agent for the Black Chamber, the U.S. counterpart to The Laundry. Billington's yacht is docked in the Caribbean, and Her Majesty's Government is not allowed to operate in this area without an American minder. The Black Chamber has sent Ramona to ride shotgun on Bob, but Ramona has her own agenda that conflicts with her employer's . . .

Bob and Ramona become entangled (literally), and are then captured by Billington and used to further his insidious plot. But let's not forget Bob's significant other, Dr. Dominique "Mo" O'Brien, also an agent of The Laundry, who has been trained especially for this mission. Can these intrepid agents stop Billington from raising the dead horror and thus save the world from total domination? The Jennifer Morgue takes the reader on a wild adventure through the worlds of Lovecraft and Ian Fleming, non-Euclidian mathematics and computer hackerdom — sort of like Austin Powers, only more squamous and rugose — with fast cars and faster women.

In addition to the novel-length The Jennifer Morgue, this volume also includes an added bonus story, Pimpf, featuring agent Bob Howard in the world of virtual gaming, along with a thought-provoking Afterword entitled The Golden Age of Spying.

Beyond the Shadows (The Night Angel Trilogy #3) by Brent Weeks (Orbit, Mass Market Paperback December 2008) – I read the first two (The Way of Shadows and Shadow’s Edge) last month and really enjoyed them, so I’m really looking forward to this novel. This series and author is also drawing quite a bit of positive attention in the SFFWorld forums. I think Weeks might be the most impressive fantasy writer to emerge in 2008 and if this final volume lives up to the promise of the first two, then that might becomes will.

This Is Not A Game by Walter Jon Williams (Orbit, Hardcover March 24, 2009) – Williams is a terrific and smart writer; I enjoyed the novel he published with NightShade Books earlier this year, Implied Spaces. Here’s the synopsis::
This Is Not a Game is a novel built around the coolest phenomenon in the world.

That phenomenon is known as the Alternate Reality Game, or ARG. It's big, and it's getting bigger. It's immersive and massively interactive, and it's spreading through the Internet at the speed of light.

To the player, the Alternate Reality Game has no boundaries. You can be standing in a parking lot, or a shopping center. A pay phone near you will ring, and on the other end will be someone demanding information.

You'd better have the information handy.

ARGs combine video, text adventure, radio plays, audio, animation, improvisational theater, graphics, and story into an immersive experience.

Now, one of science fiction's most acclaimed writers, Walter Jon Williams, brings this extraordinary phenomenon to life in a pulse-pounding thriller. This is not a game. This is a novel that will blow your mind.

No comments: