Sunday, November 27, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-11-26)

Only a small batch of arrivals this week, what with Thanksgiving (Thursday to you non-US folks reading the blog) this week.

Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern (Nightshade Books, Trade Paperback 11/29/2011) – Halpern is one of the folks behind the fine small press Golden Gryphon, publishers of Jeffrey Ford’s collections. He’s also done some editing for Nightshade and Tachyon books. This reprint anthology, on the theme of First Alien Contact, will fit in very nicely with Nightshade’s already impressive bookshelf of themed anthologies. Browsing the copyright page, I realize I’ve read a good portion of these stories in other places and they are worth revisiting.

Are we alone? From War of the Worlds to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, ET to Close Encounters, creators of science fiction have always eagerly speculated on just how the story of alien contact would play out. Editor Marty Halpern has gathered together some of the best stories of the last 30 years, by today's most exciting genre writers, weaving a tapestry that covers a broad range of scenarios: from the insidious, to the violent, to the transcendent.

Marty Halpern -- Introduction: Beginnings...
Paul McAuley -- The Thought War
Neil Gaiman -- How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Karen Joy Fowler -- Face Value
Harry Turtledove -- The Road Not Taken
George Alec Effinger -- The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything
Stephen King -- I Am the Doorway
Pat Murphy -- Recycling Strategies for the Inner City
Mike Resnick -- The 43 Antarean Dynasties
Orson Scott Card -- The Gold Bug
Bruce McAllister -- Kin
Ernest Hogan -- Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song
Pat Cadigan -- Angel
Ursula K. Le Guin -- The First Contact with the Gorgonids
Adam-Troy Castro -- Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl's
Michael Swanwick -- A Midwinter's Tale
Mark W. Tiedemann -- Texture of Other Ways
Cory Doctorow -- To Go Boldly-
Elizabeth Moon -- If Nudity Offends You
Nancy Kress -- Laws of Survival
Jack Skillingstead -- What You Are About to See
Robert Silverberg -- Amanda and the Alien
Jeffrey Ford -- Exo-Skeleton Town
Molly Gloss -- Lambing Season
Bruce Sterling -- Swarm
Charles Stross -- MAXO Signals
Stephen Baxter -- Last Contact

Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker by Tor , Hardcover 12/06/2011) – Autobiography of hard SF writer Rudy Rucker

The autobiography of Rudy Rucker begins in Louisville, Kentucky, with a young boy growing up with a desire to be a beatnik writer, a businessman father who becomes a clergyman, and a mother descended from the philosopher, Hegel. It continues through his college years, his romance with his wife, graduate school, rock music, and his college teaching jobs as a math professor. All the while Rudy is reading science fiction, beat poetry, and beginning to write some pretty strange fiction, a blend of Philip K. Dick and hard SF that qualifies him as part of the original circle of writers in the early 1980s, including Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, John Shirley, and Lew Shiner, who founded cyberpunk. He becomes known for his wild-man behavior, in the beatnik tradition.

Later, Rucker renames his fiction Transrealism (and now there is at least one academic book on the subject). In the mid-1980s he switches from math to computers, just in time for the computer revolution. By then he is living in Silicon Valley and teaching in Santa Cruz. As the '90s go by and his life evens out, he keeps writing and producing a unique and wildly imaginitive body of work in SF, usually math-based hard SF. And he's still doing that today. This book is sweet and gentle and honest, and intellectually fierce.

The Folded World (A Dirge for Prester John Volume Two) by Catherynne M. Valente (Nightshade Books Trade Paperback 11/15/2011) – Second book in Valente’s pseudo-historical fantasy retelling of the mythical/historical figure Prester John.

When the mysterious daughter of Prester John appears on the doorstep of her father's palace, she brings with her news of war in the West--the Crusades have begun, and the bodies of the faithful are washing up on the shores of Pentexore. Three narratives intertwine to tell the tale of the beginning of the end of the world: a younger, angrier Hagia, the blemmye-wife of John and Queen of Pentexore, who takes up arms with the rest of her nation to fight a war they barely understand, Vyala, a lion-philosopher entrusted with the care of the deformed and prophetic royal princess, and another John, John Mandeville, who in his many travels discovers the land of Pentexore--on the other side of the diamond wall meant to keep demons and monsters at bay.

These three voices weave a story of death, faith, beauty, and power, dancing in the margins of true history, illuminating a place that never was.

Seed by Rob Ziegler (Nightshade Books Hardcover 11/15/2011) – Relatively near future dystopic SF debut with a superb cover. This is the final version of the ARC I received in August and boy is this a nice looking book. A nice little package of seeds came with the book, too. I assume these are Satori seeds.

It's the dawn of the 22nd century, and the world has fallen apart. Decades of war and resource depletion have toppled governments. The ecosystem has collapsed. A new dust bowl sweeps the American West. The United States has become a nation of migrants -starving masses of nomads who seek out a living in desert wastelands and encampments outside government seed-distribution warehouses.

In this new world, there is a new power. Satori is more than just a corporation, she is an intelligent, living city that grew out of the ruins of Denver. Satori bioengineers both the climate-resistant seed that feeds a hungry nation, and her own post-human genetic Designers, Advocates, and Laborers. What remains of the United States government now exists solely to distribute Satori seed; a defeated American military doles out bar-coded, single-use Satori seed to the nation's starving citizens.

When one of Satori's Designers goes rogue, Agent Sienna Doss-Ex-Army Ranger turned glorified bodyguard-is tasked by the government to bring her in: The government wants to use the Designer to break Satori's stranglehold on seed production and reassert themselves as the center of power.

Sianna Doss's search for the Designer intersects with Brood and his younger brother Pollo - orphans scrapping by on the fringes of the wastelands. Pollo is abducted, because he is believed to suffer from Tet, a newly emergent disease, the victims of which are harvested by Satori.

As events spin out of control, Brood and Sienna Doss find themselves at the heart of Satori, where an explosive climax promises to reshape the future of the world.

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