Sunday, January 15, 2012

Books in the Mail (W/E 2012-01-14)

Since is the first full week of releases I’ve received in 2012, I figured I’d drop the usual disclaimer, explaining these weekly posts.

As a reviewer for SFFWorld and maybe because of this blog, I receive a lot of books for review from various publishers. Since I can't possibly read everything that arrives, I figure the least I can do (like some of my fellow bloggers) is mention the books I receive for review on the blog to at least acknowledge the books even if I don't read them.

Some publishers are on a very predictable schedule of releases, making this blog post fairly easy to compose. For example, the fine folks at DAW publish exactly 3 mass market paperbacks a month and often, one of those books is a themed anthology of short stories, and most often, they send their books about a month prior to the actual publication date.

Sometimes I get one or two books, other weeks I'll get nearly a dozen books. Some weeks, I’ll receive a finished (i.e. the version people see on bookshelves) copy of a book for which I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) weeks or months prior to the actual publication of the book. Sometimes I'll want to read everything that arrives, other weeks, the books immediately go into the "I'll never read this book" pile, while still others go into the nebulous "maybe-I'll-read-it-category." More often than not, it is a mix of books that appeal to me at different levels (i.e. from "this book holds ZERO appeal for me" to "I cannot WAIT to read this book yesterday").

Throne of the Crescent Moon (Book I of The Crescent Moon Kingdoms) by Saladin Ahmed (DAW, Hardcover 02/07/2012) –Ahmed already a finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards releases one for the most anticipated debut novels of the year, novel people have been talking about on the intarwebs for quite a few months

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron- fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, "the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat," just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla's young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed's sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near- mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince's brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time-and struggle against their own misgivings-to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole (Ace, Mass Market Paperback 01/31/2012) – I finished this book just as the new year turned and loved it. A full review to come shortly, but here’s what I said when I received the ARC: This seems to be an inventive blending of fantasy, urban fantasy and military science fiction. The blurb I’ve been seeing says Black Hawk Down meets X-Men Myke has the military background to inform the military elements of the novel. I’m looking forward to this one, plus, isn’t that a terrific Komarck cover?

For a millennium, magic has been Latent in the world. Now, with the Great Reawakening, people are “coming up Latent,” manifesting dan­gerous mag­ical abil­i­ties they often cannot con­trol. In response, the military establishes the Supernatural Operations Corps (SOC), a deadly band of sorcerers dedicated to hunting down “Selfers” who use magic out­side government control. When army officer Oscar Britton comes up Latent with a rare and pro­hib­ited power, his life turns upside down. Transformed overnight from government agent to public enemy number one, his attempt to stay alive and evade his former friends drives him into a shadow world he never knew lurked just below the sur­face of the one he’s always lived in. He’s about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.

The Order of the Scales (Memory of Flames Series #2) by Stephen Deas (Roc, Hardcover 02/07/2012) – Third in a series about which Mark/Hobbit of SFFWorld has said: this is something though that Stephen has done here. The book is an entertaining mix of Pern and Westeros, with the knowing characterisation of Abercrombie and the endearment of Novik. To be recognised alongside such authors is a real achievement. The book is a very nicely put together package that will satisfy many a Fantasy and dragon fan.

Having survived Jehal's betrayal, former Queen Zafir is determined to take back control of the kingdom. To that end, she seizes Jehal's wife and son as hostages. Desperate to save his queen and his heir, Jehal makes a tentative peace with the dragons of the north, and prepares to fly against his enemies.

But as politics throw the realms of men into turmoil, a far greater danger threatens. The dragons are awakening from the spells cast upon them, and returning to their native fury. They are out for revenge. And that revenge will be brutal.

Apocalypse: (Fate of the Jedi Book Nine) by Troy Denning (Hardcover 03/13/2012 Del Rey) – Another Star Wars series comes to a close with one of the Expanded Universes best and most consistent authors, Troy Denning.

There can be no surrender.
There will be no mercy.
It’s not just the future of the galaxy at stake—
It’s the destiny of the Force.

In the stunning finale of the epic Fate of the Jedi series, Jedi and Sith face off—with Coruscant as their battlefield. For the Sith, it’s the chance to restore their dominance over the galaxy that forgot them for so long. For Abeloth, it’s a giant step in her quest to conquer all life everywhere. For Luke Skywalker, it’s a call to arms to eradicate the Sith and their monstrous new master once and for all.

In a planetwide strike, teams of Jedi Knights take the Sith infiltrators by swift and lethal surprise. But victory against the cunning and savage Abeloth, and the terrifying endgame she has planned, is anything but certain. And as Luke, Ben, Han, Leia, Jaina, Jag, and their allies close in, the devastating truth about the dark side incarnate will be exposed—and send shock waves through the Jedi Order, the galaxy, and the Force itself.

Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz (Del Rey, Mass Market Paperback 01/31/2012) – Dietz, author of the popular Legion of the Damned Military SF has been penning some video game adaptations of late, including the hugely popular Mass Effect.

An all-new adventure inspired by the award-winning videogame from BioWare!

The universe is under siege. Every fifty thousand years, a race of sentient machines invades our galaxy to harvest all organic life-forms. They are the Reapers.

Two people who know the truth are desperately searching for a way to stop the cycle: Navy admiral David Anderson and his partner, Kahlee Sanders. They have uncovered grisly evidence proving that the Reaper threat is real. But in so doing they have exposed the machinations of Cerberus, a secretive paramilitary organization, and its mysterious leader, the Illusive Man—putting David and Kahlee in mortal danger, for Cerberus will stop at nothing to protect its secrets.

But along the way, they find an unlikely ally in Gillian Grayson, a young woman with extraordinary powers. Once the subject of horrifying scientific experiments, Gillian is now free—and beginning to master her deadly abilities. But after learning that Cerberus was responsible for the death of her father, Gillian swears vengeance against the group and the Illusive Man—threatening to unravel everything Kahlee and David are fighting for.

Forest Moon Rising (A Tess Noncoire Adventure #4) by P.R Frost (DAW Mass Market Paperback 02/07/2012) – Fourth in a series about a woman who is both a fantasy writer and the defender of a Faery realm.

Tess Noncoiré, successful fantasy writer and Celestial Blade Warrior, has made a deal with the Powers That Be, forfeiting her own dreams in order to save those nearest and dearest to her. Having survived this unprecedented experience, Tess, along with her imp Scrap, is determined to hunt down a demonic intruder from another dimension, the Norglein, who seems bent on ravishing young women, leaving them pregnant, and waiting for the proper time to steal their babies away for his own purposes.

Human for a Day by Martin H. Greenberg and Jennifer Brozek and (DAW Mass Market Paperback 02/07/2012) – The January 2012 monthly themed anthology from DAW contains a baker’s dozen stories that are western/sf, western/fantasy, western/weird mash-ups, including stories by Seanan McGuire, Jay Lake, Anton Strout, and Brenda Cooper.

From a Western circus where monsters and heroes collide, to a Civil War robot that clanks into battle, to a mining family that encounters parallel universes, Westward Weird features thirteen original stories that open the Old West to new frontiers of science fiction and fantasy.

Wrong Side of Dead (Dreg City 4)by Kelly Meding (Bantam, Mass Market Paperback 01/31/2012) – Strahan has been doing a bang-up job with this annual best of anthology, which combines both branches of the genre. This would be as good a spot as any for me to read some more short fiction.

Monster hunter Evangeline Stone woke up on the wrong side of dead this morning—and now there’s hell to pay.

Barely recovered from her extended torture at the hands of mad scientist Walter Thackery, Evy can use a break. What she gets instead is a war, as the battered Triads that keep Dreg City safe find themselves under attack by half-Blood vampires who have somehow retained their reason, making them twice as lethal. Worse, the Halfies are joined by a breed of were-creature long believed extinct—back and more dangerous than ever. Meanwhile, Evy’s attempts at reconciliation with the man she loves take a hit after Wyatt is viciously assaulted—an attack traced to Thackery, who has not given up his quest to exterminate all vampires . . . even if he has to destroy Dreg City to do it. With Wyatt’s time running out, another threat emerges from the shadows and a staggering betrayal shatters the fragile alliance between the Triads, vampires, and shapeshifters, turning Evy’s world upside down forever.

Apocalypse to Go (Nola O’Grady Book 3) by KatherineKerr (DAW Mass Market Paperback 02/07/2012) – Kerr’s best known for her enormously popular Deverry saga releases the third book in a year in this newish urban fantasy/paranormal romance series..

Nola O'Grady has enough trouble when a were-leopard accuses her of receiving stolen property. But when her younger brother Michael goes searching for their missing father, he lands himself and his brother, Sean, in a world of hurt-quite literally-in a deviant world version of San Francisco.

Can Nola and her partner in the Apocalypse Squad, Israeli Interpol agent Ari Nathan, find her brothers in time to save them from death by radiation poisoning? The search will lead them through a city of secrets, but the worst secret of all lurks at the heart of the only thing Nola loves more than Ari: her family.

Embassytown by China Miéville (Del Rey, Trade Paperback 01/31/2012) – Miéville turns his pen to far-future (some might say space opera) in what looks to be another terrific, and at the very least, interesting novel.

China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Six edited by Jonathan Strahan (Nightshade Books, Trade Paperback 03/07/2011) – Strahan has been doing a bang-up job with this annual best of anthology, which combines both branches of the genre. This would be as good a spot as any for me to read some more short fiction.

Table of Contents:
Introduction, Jonathan Strahan / The Case of Death and Honey, Neil Gaiman, (A Study in Sherlock) / The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, E. Lily Yu, (Clarkesworld, 4/11) / Tidal Forces, Caitlín R Kiernan, (Eclipse Four) / Younger Women, Karen Joy Fowler, (Subterranean, Summer 2011) / White Lines on a Green Field, Catherynne M. Valente, (Subterranean, Fall 2011) / All That Touches The Air, An Owomoyela, (Lightspeed Magazine, 4/11) / What We Found, Geoff Ryman, (F&SF, 9-10/11) / The Server and the Dragon, Hannu Rajaniemi, (Engineering Infinity) / The Choice, Paul McAuley, (Asimov‘s, 1/11) / Malak, Peter Watts, (Engineering Infinity) / Old Habits, Nalo Hopkinson, (Eclipse Four) / A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong, K. J. Parker, (Subterranean, Winter 2011. ) / Valley of the Girls, Kelly Link, (Subterranean, Spring 2011) / Brave Little Toaster, Cory Doctorow, (TRSF) / The Dala Horse, Michael Swanwick, (, 7/11) / The Corpse Painter’s Masterpiece, M Rickert, (F&SF, 9-10/11) / The Paper Menagerie, Ken Liu, (F&SF, March/April 2011) / Steam Girl, Dylan Horrocks, (Steampunk!) / After the Apocalypse, Maureen F. McHugh, (After the Apocalypse) / Underbridge, Peter S. Beagle, (Naked City) / Relic, Jeffrey Ford, (The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities) / The Invasion of Venus, Stephen Baxter, (Engineering Infinity) / Woman Leaves Room, Robert Reed, (Lightspeed Magazine, 3/11) / Restoration, Robert Shearman, (Everyone’s Just So So Special) / The Onset of a Paranormal Romance, Bruce Sterling, (Flurb, Fall-Winter 2011) / Catastrophic Disruption of the Head, Margo Lanagan, (The Wilful Eye: Tales from the Tower Vol. 1) / The Last Ride of the Glory Girls, Libba Bray, (Steampunk!) / The Book of Phoenix (Excerpted from The Great Book), Nnedi Okorafor, (Clarkesworld, 3/11) / Digging, Ian McDonald, (Life on Mars) / The Man Who Bridged the Mist, Kij Johnson, (Asimov’s, 10-11/11) / Goodnight Moons, Ellen Klages, (Life on Mars)

Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual) by Ryder Windham and illustrated by Chris Trevas and Chris Reiff (Hardcover 03/13/2012 Del Rey) – Haynes Manuals are actual real-life auto manuals, so it is quite a clever piece of publishing to release one of these things for the Falcon..

The Millennium Falcon is a legendary spaceship, made famous by its adventures under the command of smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, who made numerous special modifications to transform the beat-up Corellian light freighter into one of the fastest ships in the galaxy.

This Haynes Manual traces the model history of the Corellian Engineering Corporation’s YT series of spaceships and the development of the YT-1300 model line before focusing on the Millennium Falcon, itself a modified YT-1300. Onboard systems, controls, and their operation are described in detail and supported by a host of photographs, line art, floor plans, exploded diagrams, and stunning computer-generated artwork, all newly created by acknowledged Falcon experts Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas. Text is by Ryder Windham, author of more than fifty Star Wars books.

Covering operational history, piloting, propulsion, weapons, engineering systems, sensors, and crew facilities, this is the most thorough technical guide to the Millennium Falcon available.

This Haynes Manual is fully authorized and approved by Lucasfilm.

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