Sunday, March 01, 2009

Books in the Mail W/E 02/28/209

Some really good stuff came this week, and perhaps one of the few weeks where I plan on reading everything in the haul, especially the two great looking ARCs from Subterranean Press:

The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker (Tor Hardcover 5/12/2009)- This is the second version of the book I’ve received, having been sent an ARC of the Subterranean Press edition last year. I hope to get to this one soon.

When the British Arean Company founded its Martian colony, it welcomed any settlers it could get. Outcasts, misfits and dreamers emigrated in droves to undertake the grueling task of terraforming the cold red planet--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. But Mary and her struggles and triumphs is at the center of it all, in her bar, the Empress of Mars.

Based on the Hugo-nominated novella of the same name, this is a rollicking novel of action, planetary romance, and high adventure.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett (Del Rey, Hardcover 3/10/2009) – Brett’s debut has been generating a substantial amount of positive buzz around the intarwebs, not the least of which is Hobbit’s positive review. If for nothing else, I need to read this just to see if all the positive word of mouth is right. Here’s the synopsis for those who are still curious and haven't heard about the book:

The time has come to stand against the night.

As darkness falls each night, the corelings rise–demons who well up from the ground like hellish steam, taking on fearsome form and substance. Sand demons. Wood demons. Wind demons. Flame demons. And gigantic rock demons, the deadliest of all. They possess supernatural strength and powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards–symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and mystery, and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile.

It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms. Once, under the leadership of the legendary Deliverer, and armed with powerful wards that were not merely shields but weapons, they took the battle to the demons . . . and stopped their advance.

But those days are gone. The fighting wards are lost. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Arlen will pay any price, embrace any sacrifice, for freedom. His grim journey will take him beyond the bounds of human power. Crippled by the demons that killed his parents, Rojer seeks solace in music–only to discover that music can be a weapon as well as a refuge. Beautiful Leesha, who has suffered at the hands of men as well as demons, becomes an expert healer. But what cures can also harm. . .

Together, they will stand against the night.

Dandelion Fire (Corydon and the Siege of Troy #2) by Tobias Druitt (Knopf/Random House Children’s Books Hardcover 3/10/2009) – Here we go again with the third book in a trilogy in which I don’t have and/or haven’t read the first books. The trilogy is about the gods and monsters of ancient Greece.

After the destruction of the city of Atlantis, Corydon is in a selfimposed exile. Clearly his presence only puts his friends in danger. And so he hides out in the desert, tending to goats and camels, keeping his friends safe by staying away.

But, as ever, the gods of Olympos have other plans. Now the city of Troy is under siege, and Corydon’s friends are trapped inside. And so Corydon reluctantly joins them, hoping to help, and fearing that it is he that will tip the scales against them.

In this thrilling conclusion to the trilogy about the gods and monsters of ancient Greece, Corydon knows that it will be up to him to thwart the mighty Zeus if the others are to live. At what cost will he buy their freedom?

The Reality Dysfunction (Book 1 of The Night’s Dawn Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton (Subterranean Press Hardcover Limited Edition November 2009) – Peter F. Hamilton is one of the mega-star writers of grand-scale Space Opera and The Night’s Dawn Trilogy is what put him on the proverbial map. I’ve read a decent portion of his novel-length output (Fallen Dragon, Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained, and The Dreaming Void) but never managed to pick up these books. Well, actually, years ago I tried the first part of The Reality Dysfunction but it didn’t work for me at the time. Since reading his other novels, I’ve wanted to revisit the series and here is a great chance.

A nightmare with no end ....

In AD2600 the human race is finally beginning to realise its full potential. Hundreds of colonised planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature's boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialisation of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp.

But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal's chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it 'The Reality Dysfunction'. It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.

City Without End (Book #3 of The Entire and the Rose ) by Kay Kenyon (Pyr Trade Paperback February 2009) – I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this sequence,(Bright of the Sky and A World Too Near), so of course I’m reading this one. Kenyon draws great characters in a lush landscape. Here’s a sample of the third book.

Songs of the Dying Earth Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Subterranean Press Hardcover August 2009) – This is a massive tribute anthology and falls right in line with the line of Jack Vance books Subterranean Press has published/is publishing. The list of contributors is one of the most impressive of any new-fiction anthology I’ve ever seen: Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, Kage Baker, Terry Dowling, Phyllis Eisenstein, Glen Cook, Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Hand, Matt Hughes, Tanith Lee, George R. R. Martin, Elizabeth Moon, Mike Resnick, Lucius Shepard, Jeff Vandermeer, Paula Volsky, Howard Waldrop, Liz Williams, Walter Jon Williams, Tad Williams, and John C. Wright.

Jack Vance was a seminal figure in the development of modern fantasy, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to imagine the genre as we know it today existing without him. In the course of his more than fifty-year career, he has published dozens of major novels, as well as collections filled with marvelously crafted stories, winning the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Edgar Award, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, and several World Fantasy Awards, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Vance’s masterpiece, The Dying Earth, may be the most influential fantasy novel of the Twentieth Century, surpassed only by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy; it has not only inspired several generations of fantasy writers, from Gene Wolfe and Michael Moorcock to Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin, but its influence has reached deep into the realms of graphic novels, comics, fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and even computer gaming. Each of the stories in the Subterranean Press edition of Songs of the Dying Earth will feature an original pen-and-ink illustration by Tom Kidd, who has also provided the glorious cover art.

No comments: