Book Haul 8/2/08

I’m a little bit behind in showing all y’all what books have come into the Scalzi Compound, so this book haul is so big that it requires two pictures. Let’s do the hardcovers first:

Quick notes on these:

* Greg Bear, City at the End of Time: I had the honor of being on a SFWA committee with Greg Bear recently, and I will tell you it’s interesting to talk about weighty SFWA issues as a peer with someone you would totally geek out about otherwise. In this case, the title of the book isn’t just a clever marketing angle: there really is a city at the end of time. And it has a Starbucks! Or did, until that recent mass closing. Stupid economy. This book hits next Tuesday.

* Kat Richardson, Underground: The latest installment in the Greywalker series, which features a PI whose been having to deal with the paranormal ever since she died and came back. See, that’s why I plan on not dying. Out Tuesday? You bet.

* C.F. Bentley, Harmony: A caste-riddled civilization faces internal and external dangers. Can one young woman save an entire world from collapse? Oh, probably. Also out Tuesday.

* Michael Brooks, 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense: This is actually a science book, not a science fiction book, and Brooks looks at, you guessed it, 13 things that are just plain weird, from a science point of view, like the the Pioneer anomaly and sex. Hey, look, weird or not, I like sex, and I’m going to keep having it, so there. This book is based on an article that was swapped around on the Internet a couple of years ago. Someone selling a book because of something they wrote on the Internet? Wacky! I’m actually supposed to be sending Brooks questions for an interview that will post on Tor.Com, which I will do, uh, soon. This comes out August 12.

* Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl, The Last Theorem: The reviews I’ve seen on this book so far have been respectful, which is a way of saying “not as good as their best work, but it’s the last thing Clarke wrote and probably the last thing Pohl will have published, and I would rather eat a live toad than say anything bad about it.” I think this is a perfectly reasonable way of going about things, and I know I would have probably have bought it simply as a salute to two of the masters. Skimming through the book a bit, however, it reads just fine, thanks, so it’s worth picking up for its own qualities as well. This is out next Tuesday, too.

* Brenda Cooper, Reading the Wind: The sequel to The Silver Ship and the Sea, which featured a world in which the genetically altered were hated and feared. Isn’t that always the way. Out now.

* Kim Wilkins, The Veil of Gold: The PR sheet for this book assures me that Kim Wilkins is one of Australia’s bestselling fantasy writers, which is just like being big in Japan, plus kangaroos (work with me on this). This book takes place in a Russia bifurcated between the real world and a “world of story,” which you may expect has all the really cool creatures and stuff, while we have, like, nothing. Except iPods. Take that, world of story! This book got starred reviews in Kirkus and in Publishers Weekly, which is not a bad achievement. It’s out now.

* Elizabeth Bear, Hell and Earth: Also out next Tuesday, and the latest installment in the Promethean Age saga. This makes, oh, let’s see, 18,000 books Elizabeth Bear has published this year alone. I am totally in awe of her, and you know, I’m not exactly slacking on the “crank out the books” end of things. But I am a mere mortal, while eBear seems to be fueled by the angels themselves. Stupid angels. This is a trade paperback, incidentally, not a hardcover.

* Subterranean Tales of Dark Fantasy: This anthology came out just a couple of days ago and features stories by Patrick Rothfuss, Poppy Z. Brite, Kage Baker, Tim Powers and the ever-proverbial more, and features a cover by Dave McKean I find outright spooklicious. Right next to it, incidentally, is another Subterranean book, Ray Bradbury’s screenplay to the John Huston-directed film version of Moby Dick, which is very cool; I read a pre-press version of that and I think it’s a must-have for both film and Ray Bradbury fans. It’s also just out and available for order.

* Mike Resnick, Stalking the Unicorn and Stalking the Vampire: Tales of an alternate Manhattan, in which crusty gumshoe John Justin Mallory tracks down, you guessed it, unicorns and vampires and such like. Pyr is reissuing Unicorn, which was originally published a couple of decades ago, and pairs it up with Vampire, which is a brand-new installment. I’m kind of hoping the next installment is Stalking the Nerd’s Girlfriend from Canada, speaking of fabulous mythical creatures. Amazon informs me both are available now.

And now, paperbacks, ARCs and everything else:

More notes:

* Flight, Volume Five: a graphic novel anthology, very pretty, makes me wonder how I missed the first four installments. Out now.

* Gregory Frost, Lord Tophet: The follow-on to Shadowbridge, so if you’re a fan of the first, get on it. It’s out now, too.

* Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Christianity: Finally, a science book to make PZ Myers shoot blood from his ears! Can’t wait to see that. Tipler looks at the various miracles of Christianity and attempts to find a rational, scientific basis for them. I have to say that my first reaction on seeing the book was, “oh, this is just like those ‘Science of Star Trek’ books, with God instead of the USS Enterprise.” Which means, of course, that I’m destined for Hell. This one manifests on August 19.

* Tom Lloyd, The Stormcaller: Lloyd sent this to me all the way from the UK, so I wanted to make sure it got a shoutout. I’m flipping through it and it looks like a suitably twisty and violent dark fantasy novel, the sort that inspires entire albums from Scandanavian metal bands, and you know, I can’t think of a single thing wrong with that. Thanks, Tom! You rock. The books is available in the UK and Canada, but Amazon tells me USians can get it too, if they can handle a couple weeks for shipping.

* S.L. Viehl, Omega Games: Hey! This is the first time one of Viehl’s novels has been sent my way. Online readers will know her as Paperback Writer, who has been blogging for about as long as I have. This is the latest installment in her Stardoc series, and it’s out Tuesday.

* Rachel Caine, Gale Force: I know at least a couple of folks who can’t get enough of the “Weather Warden” series, so the arrival of this book next Tuesday will fill them full of squee. And who doesn’t like squee? No one doesn’t like squee, that’s who.

* Enchantment Place: This one’s a little difficult to read in the picture, so I thought I’d mention it: short stories about a mall catering to those of a supernatural bent. I personally thought that was taken care of by Hot Topic and Spencer’s Gifts, but that shows what I know. A nice line-up of authors, in any event: Mary Jo Puteny, Jody Lynn Nye, Laura Resnick, Diane Duane and Kristine Kathryn Rusch among them. Also in there: My pal Melanie Fletcher. Hi, Melanie! Out Tuesday.

* Iain M. Banks, Use of Weapons: I heart Orbit Books for re-releasing all the Culture novels. Heart them so much. That is all.

* Neal Stephenson, Anathem: I’m working through this one so I can’t say too much about it, except to say: folks, you’re really going to have to work for this one, since Stephenson’s built a world from the ground up and doesn’t seem to particularly care if you’re not keeping pace. And it’s 900 pages long, so, you know, you’ll be at it for a while. But I suppose The Baroque Cycle acted to thin out the ranks of the not sufficiently motivated, didn’t it, so whoever’s left with probably explode with joy. This is due September 9.

* Jason Pinter, The Stolen: A missing kid is found after several years, with a big gaping hole in his memory, and it’s up to Pinter protagonist Henry Parker to figure out what’s going on. I’m not going to say too much about this book right now because Pinter’s writing me a Big Idea piece that’s coming soon, but I will say this book comes out on Tuesday.

* Electric Velocipede: Hi, John! This edition (#14) includes work by Karen Joy Fowler, Leslie What, Sonya Taafe, Sandra McDonald, Lisa Mantchev and lots of others. Excellent. This came to me bundled with a chapbook from Robert Freeman Wexler called Psychological Methods to Sell Should Be Destroyed, which sounds to me like an album title from one of those 80s California punk bands. And maybe it was. I’ll have to check.

So that’s the haul. Your thoughts on the books here?

53 thoughts on “Book Haul 8/2/08

  1. Count me in with the joy-exploders.
    Neal Stephenson is the closest thing I’ve had to a man crush since I had that dream about Ziggy Stardust in the hormone crazed days of high-school.

    Oh what a night….

    Ahem, where was I?
    Oh, yes, Neal Stephenson. One thing I do want to ask, is this one full of samurai/katana fetishism too? Cause I’m kind of tired of that particular nerd-trope.

  2. Not sure here on Anathem. I don’t think Stephenson needs shorter books, just better put togteher ones. As I posted once over at Whateveresque, the Baroque cycle was crying out for a copy editor, but I loved Cryptonimicon and all his earlier novels at close to the man-crush levels JimR descibed.

    PS – He never has written a decent female character that I can recall though. And before you say YT, she was, shall we say, highly boyish in her girliness.

  3. Liked the eBear, wished I’d been able to review the Greg Bear, but didn’t have room in my docket (so someone else did it). Never got an ARC for the Stephenson, which is probably good because I don’t have time to read a 900 page book–600′s about the max I’ll tackle these days–and I’d’ve felt compelled to try. And then there would have been tears.

    Most of the rest of these went into my giveaway box.

  4. I read a couple of Iain M. Banks books (Consider Phlebas and Excession) but, well, I didn’t really get them. That is, I never felt the need to reread, and this is pretty strange for me.

    On the contrary I’d really like to read Anathem, too bad that I can’t seem to find it for less than 20.5€. It’s a little bit over what I can spend in a single book, so I’ll have to wait for the UK/US paperback, whichever comes out first.

  5. Count me among the joy exploders. I commented on my own blog yesterday about how Stephenson makes you work for it, but (for me, at least), the payoff is worth the effort.

    Also thrilled about the new Stardoc book. That one was pre-ordered ages ago.

  6. Some I keep, some I give away, most go to the local library, which keeps some and puts the rest into book sales.

  7. Man, I love those pulp covers on Mike Resnick’s books. I’ve been on a pulp-fiction craze lately — that just fits right in.

    I made a quick and phat loot score at Conestoga 12 this weekend…it was a nice addition of nine or ten titles from authors that were attending.

    I’d say that’s a mighty haul there.

  8. I am exploding with joy.

    Ora, you didn’t care for Eliza’s character? I liked how she developed over the course of the Baroque Cycle…though I still have a naggling sense that one of her kids vanished like a “Family Matters” cast member between Volumes II and III.

  9. This book takes place in a Russia bifurcated between the real world and a “world of story,” which you may expect has all the really cool creatures and stuff, while we have, like, nothing.

    Sounds like how I’d describe the Liz Williams book Nine Layers of Sky

    I’m kind of hoping the next installment is Stalking the Nerd’s Girlfriend from Canada, speaking of fabulous mythical creatures.

    Stay away from my girlfriend Resnick!

    The only one I’ve actually read is Use of Weapons which I suggest everyone read. Now.

  10. Personally, I would no less than shit my pants if I were to meet Greg Bear. Seriously. Then every so often after I’d cleaned up and we’d hopefully still be talking, I’d have to drop to my knees and roll around the floor for a few seconds moaning, “It’s Greg Bear! I’m not worthy!!!” before being able to go on. Even though I hope this book is better than Dead Lines which made the baby jesus cry with its weakness.

    I’m keen on getting the Neal Stephenson book though I have 9 trillion books ahead of it in the guilt stack. But what’s one more book? Then another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another.

  11. I live in awe of your book hauls, every time that I see a photograph. I wish I could get books like that, delivered to me, I’d never have to leave the house again on my days off.

  12. My wife and I miss the free books from when we were both Active Members of SFWA. Even my Science Fiction editor father got some free books as a Affiliate Member. But then my wife had all that cancer surgery (where the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund may have saved her life), and I was busy losing $100,000 or so in legal fees (the SFWA Legal Defense Fund politely declined to assist) on the extreme plaigiarism case of the 2 virulent fans who had management approval for wholesale theft of my sciencetific papers and the industrial videos that I wrote, directed, narrated, and supervised special effects on for NASA. Somewhere in all that I wrote to SFWA and said we might be late with our membership reneral checks. Then, when I sent $1,000.00 to upgrade us both to Lifetime Active, mysterious politics got in the way. I intend to ask the new and more sane regime to look into at least reinstating the Active Memberships of myself and my wife, and to give them the widow’s contact info for my father’s Estate Membership.

    Sad story. Missing all those books just makes me more sad. But I’m busy writing and submitting new science fiction and lots of Math and Science, and don’t have time to be reading more than half a dozen novels simultaneously anymore.

    Mystery Writers of America also provided free books to myself and my father, both Active Members. Sometimes we got some from National Writers Union and Western Writers of America (his friend Louis L’Amour was writing more and more science fiction and paranormal crossovers).

    I look forward very much to your more in-depth reviews of that swag. And to more debriefing of my son, at home for the first time since San Diego Comic-Con, where at 19 he was for the n-th year a Professional guest. About all that he’s told me before going to sleep was that he’d conversed with old friend/co-author Ray Bradbury, and with Dean Koontz, but missed the Stross and other panels.

    Also: what have you to say of Denvention?

  13. I really liked the Greg Frost, though liked Shadowbridge a thought better. Am reading the Greg Bear now, and liking it. It’s neat to see him go back to pure spec fic after the thrillers-I liked those too, but I like this better. In other news, want Anathem, and really,really want the Subterranean anthology.

  14. Damn you, Scalzi. Damn you for putting the “Big in Japan” earworm in my head. Now I’ll be bursting into Waitsian beautiful nonsense at random intervals for days.

  15. Chang at 15:
    Greg Bear is in the “good” column of authors from my bookstore experience. Just a genuinely decent guy.

    I’d like to put a word in for Stalking the Unicorn – “entertaining”.

  16. ANATHEM is seriously far out there, and required a processor upgrade in the first 200 pages alone. But oh is it a glorious, wonderful book.

    I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  17. Ian M sez: Greg Bear is in the “good” column of authors from my bookstore experience.

    Agreed, from what I saw at Comic-Con a couple years ago. He was happily chatting and signing for people who’d brought literally boxes of his books. I was unwilling to wade through that, so I squeed on the other Bear at the table instead.

  18. Got most of these, except Anathem, which I haven’t been able to pry out of the publisher. (Harper has been very strange to deal with. Sometimes they send me a massive box full of a dozen or more books all at once, other times they ignore me completely.) Also got a nice little batch of mass markets from Solaris the other day too, including Eric Brown’s Necropath and Paul Kearney’s The Ten Thousand. Finally, Tor dropped Ben Bova’s Mars Life into my box this morning. Looks like an interesting late summer.

  19. You’re so close on that Psychological Methods thing. It’s a line from the Minutemen song Shit From An Old Notebook.

  20. Great stuff, John. I envy your reading list.

    As for Stephenson, I loved _The Diamond Age_ and _Cryptonomicon_, but didn’t really get into the first book of the Baroque Cycle. I really need to read _Snow Crash_, but haven’t gotten to it yet. The new book look interesting.

    Greg Bear is awesome! _Moving Mars_ is one of my top favorite sci-fi novels ever. I recently read _Vitals_, which was supposed to be more of a horror novel, and didn’t quite like it. _City of Angels_ was far more terrifying. As above, the next novel looks like a great read.

    John, I’m *very* interested in any deeper observations you have on _The Last Theorum_. The whole situation with Clarke’s health failing, him seeking a co-author, and another giant of the genre signing up is very dramatic, but it makes one wonder just how good the book actually is.

  21. Want want WANT the Kat Richardson book. I’m crushed it’s going to be in hardback, because now I have to wait LONGER. (sob)

    And I think the Physics of Christianity looks fascination. But I’m weird like that.

    And I’m not sure about his writing, but I love the covers of those Mike Resnic books, because I love noir.

  22. Had no idea Greg Bear had a book coming out, but it looks interesting so that’s gone down on my list of books for look out for now.

    The Flight books are awesome, I have volumes one through four already. There should be more comics anthologies like them.

    The Pinter cover looks familar, and the description does too, but the title doesn’t. I think it must have published by another name over here in the UK.

  23. #27: John, I’m *very* interested in any deeper observations you have on _The Last Theorum_. The whole situation with Clarke’s health failing, him seeking a co-author, and another giant of the genre signing up is very dramatic, but it makes one wonder just how good the book actually is.

    Not very, sorry to say. Gets off to a great start, goes all shaggy dog in the final third.

  24. I loved the Subterranean one. “Dark fantasy” is in, and fun. If you liked Ellen Datlow’s “Inferno” collection, get the Subterranean. And vice verse.

    I expect more of this sort of thing soon. Possibly some novels.

  25. Have you ever considered selling the excess books and giving the money to the local library? You could give the library more money that way, and spread much cheer besides.

  26. #3, ora…
    Have you ever read the Diamond Age? Or The Baroque Cycle? I grant you, Snowcrash wasn’t really strong on “good” female characters, if you want to discount the Second Protagonist Who Pretty Much Saves The Day…

    Sorry, it just strikes me as an odd complaint to make, as Mr. Stephenson’s female characters are some of the strongest, and least stereotyped, I can think of in “genre” fiction.

  27. #32: It’s unlikely he’d get that much money selling them. It’s possible to get good money on eBay for an ARC of a book by a popular writer before the book’s commercial release, but that’s — ahem — an ethically dubious exercise (especially as most ARCs are clearly marked “Not For Sale”) and John could find himself scratched off a lot of these freebie mailing lists.

    Giving the books to libraries a great option, as they are, after all, in business to loan books, and these are books they don’t have to buy. So it all works out fine.

  28. Thanks for the shout-out, John! I’m really looking forward to seeing all the stories in Enchantment Place (hey, a magical mall set in Chicago — it doesn’t get better than that).

    As for the other books, both Bears look great, and I’m a Rachel Caine completist so I’ll get Gale Force. we are seriously running out of bookshelf space at this rate…

  29. That’s a great haul there! For the first time in a while, my haul went into double figures this week :) Hell, yeah! I barely review two a week, however…

    Liked the P.Z Myers reference! He rocks.

    ~Chris

  30. Hi John,

    I just wanted to ask you if when you post of these books if you have read through them and like them and are posting them as a recommendation, or are just posting them to show what you’ve gotten?

    just curious cause i’m looking for some new books to read. thanks

    -Alex

  31. I’m trying the first Kat Richardson now. It’s a definite first novel, and I’m interested to see how she matures as a writer- but good bones.
    Ooh, they couldn’t get anyone to write anything for that Dark Fantasy book! On my list to get ASAP. The Moby Dick also looks quite intriguing.
    I don’t have the intestinal fortitude for Anathem but have a friend who does, so gave him my ARC and ordered him to report back.
    I’ve been devouring all things Elizabeth Bear recently- am gearing up to read her last two in the Ink and Steel series, have her Wolfcarl book (with Sarah Monette)ready to go, and also just got New Amsterdam. She just keeps getting better and better.
    Love, love love Iain M. Banks! So very happy that I’ve got another shot at some of the older Culture books! Just bought Steep Approach to Garbadale, which is written in his other incarnation, Iain Banks. I must say that I didn’t like his work in Canal Dreams (same incarnation) as much as his SF, but “not as much” still means pretty darn good. He is brilliant. And soon to be back in print!
    I can’t say that I’ll squee for Rachel Caine, but she’s good fun and I’ll be reading that one soon too.
    My dilemna: going to Italy for two weeks at the end of August. Must take enough books that I don’t run out on a plane or train- I figure 9 books, since husband will undoubtedly demand attention at some point. But which? Not too fast of a read, since then I will have to carry it around after only a couple of hours of reading time. No, I can’t just leave it somewhere after I’m finished. But no doorstoppers, since I have to be able to carry my suitcase. I’m looking at Dennis Lehane’s new one, and probably Scott Lynch’s second book, maybe a Toby Bucknell (haven’t tried him yet). Must choose wisely!

  32. Flight Vol. V! Flight Vol. V! Flight Vol. V! Woooo!

    (Pardon my enthusiasm but this is the series that converted me to the graphic genre’s merits over a tedious personal Cliff Notes drama and immigrant-in-America tales the NYTs fobbed off on me.)

  33. No comment love for 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense? Wow — that’s the one that made me wish I already had it so I could shut down the computer and go read. (The Resnick volumes were a close second.)

    I may pester you for more information about this one at ArmadilloCon in a couple of weeks…

  34. Anathem is avaliable for Amazon pre-order on both sides of the Atlantic. So it’s wait for September either way.

  35. I read Tipler’s last book – The Physics of Immortality – where he tried to pretend he wasn’t just working the numbers to validate a Christian worldview, and I’m actually GLAD to see he’s being upfront about it now.

    In the last one, he filled pages and pages with equations I wasn’t sure how to validate, to determine that at some future point we will all be bodily resurrected just like god always said.

    It was bizarre, at best. I bled out my eyes a little bit, but now, in retrospect, I realize it’s not any weirder than the singularity BS Kurzweil and his Robogod cult spew, so it’s hard to hold too much of a grudge against poor Tipler.

    And I’ve heard from physicists that his equations are actually well done. They just don’t happen to support his wild conclusions.

    Also? I REALLY wanted to be an early reviewer for the new Stephenson book (via Librarything) but it had like 4 million requests. Please tell us it’s good.

  36. Cheers for the shoutout John, much appreciated!

    To my shame I think the only one of those I’ve read, apart from Stormcaller, is Use of Weapons and damn that was a good read, one of his finest books. I’ve got an ARC of Anathem and it looks a pretty intimidating read, the 24 pages of what appears to be mathematical explanations at the back means I may have to take the week off to concentrate on it or it’ll be more than my simply brain can understand!

  37. Re: the Frank Tipler

    somebody on LibraryThing was pushing a book by something called the “Institute for Creation Research” which postulated that it’s quite easy to reconcile modern science with the Truth of the Bible – if you simply posit that physical constants take on whatever value you need to make this work.

    Hope the Tipler isn’t quite that insane.

  38. Enough said about Mr. Stephenson.

    I would like to say that Brenda Cooper’s work with Larry Niven was out of this world. Her newer books have not shown up in my local library or bookstore, and I know because I have been watching for years for her name. Time for an Amazon order…

    Thanks to John for these microreviews.

  39. Use of Weapons was the first Banks I ever read (coming VERY late to the party in 2004) and I fell in love with the Culture universe there and then. It was with great joy I realised he’d written … er … quite a few more novels and I began collecting with a vengeance.

    Great news about the re-release. Thanks, John! Go, Orbit!

  40. Oh, and Stormcaller was a strange read for me. I struggled a bit to stick with it until the end – I still don’t know what exactly bothered me – but when it was over I was a) sad and b) very much looking forward to the next installment. I hope you’ll enjoy it and let us know what you thought!

  41. good haul of books… I have a similar but not quite as large haul waiting for my holidays… this time not all scifi…

    I would havbe loved the stephenson book for my holiday, but hell I can’t wait till spetenmber to lie down…

    I’m a joyful exploder by the way…

    Also on Iain M Banks… the culture rules, Excession rules absolutely… but to really joyfully explode read em all in order track the ideas as they develop…

    anyway, off to join the oh what the hell tendency.

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