86 thoughts on “New Books and ARCs, 9/10/13

  1. Before anyone notes it: Yes, a John Ringo book. Yes, we snarked at each other last week. But now we’ve had our fun and at the end of the day we’re both working writers. I support the idea of writers working and finding an audience. Good on him for getting to keep at it. I’m happy let people know he’s got something new for them to check out.

    Also, that’s about as much as I want it to be a topic of conversation on this thread. Focus on what you see here that you like, please.

  2. As an easy choice, I’d go with the Bujold. But. I’d love to see Big Idea pieces for any of the others that you end up reading.

  3. Lawrence Block’s “Catch and Release” creeped me out more than any other short story I’ve read in the last 20 years. I look forward to reading the rest of the collection, as long as my husband is home and every light in the house is on.

  4. I suspect I’m one of the few more excited about the Block than any of the others. Although seeing a hardcover from Hard Case still seems weird (and I say that having read The Twenty-Year Death already).

  5. Seeing a copy of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance cracks me up. A little late on that one, right? That said, I still need to read it.

  6. Lawrence Block is always worth reading, if you’re not familiar with him. Grand Master of Mystery Writers of America, among numerous other accolades. That’s a collection of older short stories, I believe.

  7. Actually, it seems Weber and Ringo are working on a fifth entry in the “Empire of Man” (Roger McClintock and his friends) series, which I am lovin’

    I have one question, totally off topic: why are vampires so popular? At least Weber made them part of a truly sci-fi book. I just sooooo don’t get vampires.

  8. I was unaware there was any snarking going on. I’ve got my issues with his politics, but he didn’t let it get out of control in this book – this was a good one; I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

  9. Read “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance”, thought it was hilarious. Ivan is finally vindicated of any thought that he might be an idiot. He actually saves ImpSec, manages to please his mother, and outmaneuvers Miles, all in one book!

  10. Can you please delete that previous post, Mr. Scalzi? My idiot little brother “borrowed” my computer while I was taking out the trash, and switched my name for my email account password. Apparently, he doesn’t realize that passwords are freaking important things.

  11. Bujold would be great.

    I listened to Philippa Ballentines first book, Chasing the Bard, back when it was a podcast novel. Great stuff.

  12. For what it’s worth, I already read the Ringo (got the bundle) and it was decent. He’s a good storyteller.

  13. Now that I have finished hog-tying my brother with my black belt and sitting on him until he apologized and promised to never again put my email account password on the Internet:

    1. I can’t wait for your review of Steelheart, Mr. Scalzi!

    2. Ringo’s last book was sort of OK, but the Gary Stu stuff was ridiculous and killed the writing. I mean, it was ridiculous. I prefer Stargate: SG-1 reruns when I’m in a military SF mood.

    3. Catch and Release was creepier than the creepiest Tim Burton movie.

    4. I seriously hope that the sequel to unicornpegasuskitten.com involves the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny between John “Redshirt” Scalzi, wielder of the Mallet of Loving Correction, and Brandon “Shardbearer” Sanderson, bearer of the Great Pen Scalzibane, the One True Pen that can defeat Mr. Scalzi forever! (I hope for a draw)

    5. I’m going to go spend a few hours making crackpot theories on 17th shard, and then I’m going to see if I can convince my parents to start a Kickstarter thread for a Redshirts movie. Because seriously, the sheer awesome and meta from that would blot out the Sun.

    I realize that only the first three items are on topic.

  14. @ Floored,

    Your Redshirts movie should cast a bunch of people who’ve had bit parts on Star Trek at one time or another to make it even more meta!

    (Ahem.) Slightly more on topic: I liked Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance but I missed Miles. Ivan carrying a whole book is interesting conceptually, but I’m not sure there’s enough there there.

  15. Definitely “The Horologicon,” “Catch and Release,” and “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” – and for someone who’s never read Bujold and really wants to, would that be a good starting point?

    “Cooking Comically” looks like something I could use to bolster my dating life… if I actually had one…

  16. What’s the full title on that “Cooking” one? It looks interesting, but then I love cooking & baking almost as much as I do reading.

    Queen of Dreams sounds intriguing as well; is Hamilton more Fantasy or SF? (The title makes me think Fantasy, but you never can be sure.)

  17. @ Josh Cochran: H’mmm…Wil Wheaton as Kerensky/Corey, maybe? Have Charlize Theron as Duvall, for the humor value, if that’s the case. Alternative: Wil Wheaton as Dahl/Abnett, Felicia Day as Duvall, Steve Carell or Jack Black as Kerensky, for the sight gag Zachary Quinto as Hester (you know, best/most important character to [apparently] random redshirt–potential for humor). Benedict Cumberbatch as Hanson if you want it to be more serious–go with Cumberbatch as Weinstein/Jenkins if you’re playing up the humor over the philosophy. People who had redshirt roles in Into Darkness for Abernathy, Hartnell, etc. OR William Shatner as Abernathy, Leonard Nimoy as Q’eeng, Karl Urban as Hartnell (because original McCoy died), maybe New Scotty (whatshisface, can’t recall his name) as West. George Takei gets to be a bunch of random redshirts–you can turn the movie into a “Spot George Takei” game if you watch it a million times. Patrick Stewart as somebody, because no Star Trek parody would be complete without a little Shakespearean-style acting.

    Now that could be a really, really good movie.

  18. So, between Five Billion Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Global Warming we need one more to make a trend. Who wants to write Autumn of the Galactic Emperor?

  19. I don’t think I would start Bujold with Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, not that I have read it, but is deep into the Vorkosigan Saga. I would go–if you want a more serious start Cordelia’s Honor, or the lighter Young Miles omnibus. (It doesn’t look like any of it is up for free on Baen’s Free Library.)

    She’s great, so I can heartily recommend Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls and Hallowed Hunt (in that order) or the Sharing Knife, though technically that is a fantasy/romance cross over.

  20. @Ari B: There are a couple of books that start with the title ‘what if’. They are essays by historians talking about what might have happened if certain events in world history were a little different. This is is not fiction, but very interesting for alternative history fans.

  21. A short Hamilton book?? I’d read that for sheer novelty value, quite apart from his being a good writer! And ‘Five Billion Years of Solitude’ sounds interesting – I wonder if the title is a tip to ‘100 years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

  22. hm. recipes I’ll actually cook might be interesting. I keep trying to get beyond bachelor chow (milk and cereal), but I just don’t make it happen. The caveat, of course, is whether these recipes actually taste good. The one thing I’ve discovered is that oatmeal can be made whole lot more interesting if you load it with chilli powder, and its not a lot of work.

    five billion years of solitude scares me. I couldn’t get through a hundred years of solitude, let alone five billion years of it.

  23. hurtadost – Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance isn’t a bad place to start. Chronologically it’s deep into the Vorkosigan series but I think it would be OK anyway. Lois wrote it with new readers in mind, the story is Ivan Vorpatril’s alone, rather than Ivan’s view of an existing story (i.e., this is not Ender’s Shadow), and the POV character is from a different world entirely and needs lots of things explained to her.

  24. Bill Hayes: If you enjoy books about language and words, you’ll probably enjoy Max Barry’s /Lexicon/ (particularly if you enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s /Snow Crash/).

    Of Scalzi’s ARCs, /Alternate Histories of the World/ and /Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl/ sound interesting just for their titles, though I don’t know the authors at all.

    I actually got /Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance/ on Audible a while back now, and while it was a good dose of Bujold, it wasn’t a great dose of Bujold – nowhere near /Memory/, /Mirror Dance/, or /Diplomatic Immunity/ (which are my favourites).

  25. Lawrence Block’s shorts are things of beauty – reading him, Westlake, E. Leonard and John McDonald is like a master’s course in writing.
    I just cracked the hard Case ‘double’ hardcover 69 Barrow St and Strange Embrace – as noted above, gorgeous painted covers for these.
    There’s a lovely clip online of Block and Silverberg talking about their paperback originals years

  26. I loved Bujold’s latest, I’ve always found her to be a fun read. I’ll pick up Ringo’s book because he is a good storyteller. The thread has convinced me to try the Lawrence Block short stories.

  27. “Cooking Comically: Recipes So Easy You’ll Actually Make Them”

    This, and the blog it’s apparently based on, are a delightful discovery… Even if I don’t buy the book, it’ll be worth it for the blog.

  28. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is hilarious. Highly recommended. Just read it a couple weeks ago. I’ve got Cryoburn on deck after I finish up Heaven’s War.

  29. Went out and got Ms. Bujold’s book in hardcover–just started, but it looks fantastic. It’s not “Elantris” or “The Android’s Dream”, but it’s definitely on par with “Agent to the Stars”. Definitely clears my personal threshold of awesome.

  30. I loved Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. I think Lois is bored with Miles, and I was glad to see her back in the Vorkosiganverse anyway.

  31. I would love to see Alan Rickman, Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and some of the others who were in Galaxy Quest in a movie version of RedShirts.

    There’s a scene in the GQ outtakes of Tony Shaloub as Tech. Sargeant Chen, responding to a question from the aliens about the berylium sphere. They totally work out their question themselves, and then one of the aliens gasps, like 3 times, and comes out with “Tech Sargeant Chen! You’re a GENIUS!!”

    But Alan Rickman first, please. To help provide that classic Shakespearean Point/CounterPoint dynamic w/ P. Stewart…

  32. I just finished “Under a Graveyard Sky” and I enjoyed it. Which is amazing since I *hate* zombie tales as much as I *hate* vampire porn. Of course, I do enjoy the Monster Hunters series, so that may say something about me.

  33. BTB, am I the only person who has trouble with the items on the right side of the screen covering quite a few comments? The only time this doesn’t happen is when John’s entry flows past them – they don’t cover his posts, just the comments.

  34. @ Robin: +10 awesomesauce points. Tony Shaloub & Alan Rickman–Mr. Monk and the dude from that one version of Sense&Sensibility; now that would be awesome.

  35. It would be justice if all the unknown redshirts who died during the regular run of Star Trek and it’s spin-offs could be cast in the movie “Redshirts.” I mean, I bet few of them made a successful career out of acting and I’m sure they could use the paycheck.

  36. The one that immediately catches my attention is Alternate Histories of the World – I love that kind of thing (probably the history major in me :>)

  37. I’ve said before that CVA isn’t Bujold’s best work, but her “meh” is so far above other people’s best work that it’s still really good and well worth reading.

    Most of the books in that stack I would at least pick up and give a look. There’s one I wouldn’t touch, because I’m more judgemental and vindictive than you are, John, and there are some crimes I simply can’t forgive.

    I refer, of course, to the use of Comic Sans, a font which deserves to have a UN commission devoted to wiping it out in our lifetime.

    Harimad: But it contains a bunch of spoilers for the other Vorkosigan books.

    Floored: Seriously, read the other Vorkosigan books. I’m not saying you should put this one down now that you’ve started it, but if you like this one there are many others you’ll LOVE.

  38. @ Xopher: I will, just as soon as I clean up my brain. Seriously, good SF/F should come with a warning label: Warning; may blow minds.

  39. Alternate Histories of the World looks intriguing. For some reason it made me think of The Atlas of Remote Islands, a wonderful, offbeat book full of surprises.

  40. The Bujold was good. I’ll probably reread it sometime.
    Ooh, a new Hamiton book. Darn, not ’till 02JA2014 says http://www.amazon.co.uk
    “Recipes so easy [I'll] … make them.” Yeah, sure. – Because of some of the comments? Seems like it will be pretty good.
    I’ve always liked Block’s works.
    Right, “Mark” sounds familar because of “Frederick.”

    @floored: I hope you’ve already changed that password.
    @Avilyn: From the book’s description “But can Taggie and Jemima rescue their dad and defeat the evil King of Night? … children’s fantasy-adventure.” 304 pages.

    The Ringo book. Didn’t know it was zombie survivalist porn. Added to wishlist.

  41. @ Shawn: Yeah, I changed it. And I hog-tied my brother with my black belt and sat on him until he recognized the importance of not posting my password on the Internet.

  42. “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” – and for someone who’s never read Bujold and really wants to, would that be a good starting point?

    I don’t think you would have much trouble following the plot, but you would probably miss some in-jokes and references to the earlier books. There’s enough exposition to cover major plot events that are relevant to the current book, though.

    Potentially a bigger concern is all the spoilers for the earlier books — even the *existence* of at least one character is a major spoiler for the book they were introduced in, let alone who is alive, dead, retired, found a different job, out of one relationship, into another… you get the idea.

  43. (Ahem.) Slightly more on topic: I liked Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance but I missed Miles. Ivan carrying a whole book is interesting conceptually, but I’m not sure there’s enough there there.

    I’d argue that if you left the drabbles out of Cryoburn and just included the main text, that CVA is more substantial than Cryoburn.

  44. I don’t think I would start Bujold with Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, not that I have read it, but is deep into the Vorkosigan Saga. I would go–if you want a more serious start Cordelia’s Honor, or the lighter Young Miles omnibus. (It doesn’t look like any of it is up for free on Baen’s Free Library.)

    My first attempt at the universe was Barrayar, the 2nd of the two books in the Cordelia’s Honor omnibus. I thought it was OK, but it didn’t induce me to try more.

    Later I started again with the Young Miles books and found them much more compelling. I read a bunch of Miles and then Shards of Honor and then a reread of Barrayar. I found that re-read much more compelling after I was invested in the characters who I knew from other books. If I recall, Shards of Honor was actually published before any of the Miles tales and Barrayar came after several Miles books had been published. Perhaps my experience would have been different if I started with Shards, but I still tend to recommend that one start with the Young Miles books.

    In the end though, I don’t suppose one can ever really go wrong with reading a popular series in the order that it was published. After all, the series became popular in the first place in the order that it was published.

  45. @Mike is correct — either publishing order or starting with Young Miles. I started with that first Miles short story, and here we are.

    I also agree with Mike about Cryoburn. The last page and the drabbles are wonderful, but without that, the book is sort of more of the same. Whereas CVA changes a lot of people and planets in a lot of ways.

  46. Wayne Roberts says: September 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    BTB, am I the only person who has trouble with the items on the right side of the screen covering quite a few comments?

    No, you are not the only one. Using IE8 here, but I’ve seen times when display problems were caused by the firewall the browser was behind.

    Starting Bujold: Doesn’t really matter IMHO. I started with Komarr and then Falling Free, probably some of the worst places to start, but was instantly a Bujold junkie nonetheless.

    Digressing I need to reread Komarr to see if it really uses the Amazing Coincidence trope or if I missed whatever justified that [spoiler] turned out to be [spoiler].

  47. I actually think the Vorkosigan saga is best read in internal-chronology order, with the single exception that Ethan of Athos should be read before Cetaganda.

  48. @Wayne Roberts 9:44 pm about “…trouble with the items on the right side of the screen covering quite a few comments….”
    In Firefox, Opera, Chrome and IE9 on WinVista I don’t. Your Environment May Vary.
    IIRC, this subject was in the comments here at Whatever this century, and again with the IIRC, somebody said something that might have been useful to victims of page layout errors such as yours.
    IIRC.

  49. I got my first hit of Bujold in a SF book club omnibus called “Vorkosigan’s Game”. That was enough to get me totally hooked, so I went and bought all the others that existed at the time, and have bought every one since, usually twice: eARC from Baen, and then hardcover. I love her Chalion books, too. But don’t get the Sharing Knife.

    I still break into tears reading the last chapter of Cryoburn, and it’s been, what, 3 years?

    But Ivan’s tour de farce (sic) in CVA was wonderful. The fate of Cockroach Central was SOOOOOOOO perfect!

  50. Coming late to the party:
    …“Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” – and for someone who’s never read Bujold and really wants to, would that be a good starting point?

    I personally started with the omnibus “Cordelia’s Honor”, which is publishing order, and which does a good job of introducing us to the society of Barrayar–and to Cordelia, Miles’ mother. The nature of Barrayaran society shapes the universe of the series, so it’s helpful to understand it. Cordelia is the reason there is a Miles, and that Gregor is emperor and she is a remarkable character in her own right and well worth knowing. Others have recommended the “Young Miles” omnibus, and that could well be a good starting place, too.

    I wouldn’t start with CVA, because you will miss a lot of context established in earlier books. It’s a delightful romance on its own, but in my opinion, I got a lot more out of it from knowing just who Ivan is and how he’s been viewed by his cousin and peers in the past.

  51. Would I start with bujold with CVA? Probably not. But, yeah how much do you mind spoilers? It’s /odd/ to have Ivan as the viewpoint. Maybe start with young miles or shards of honor? I read the Cordelia books, got hooked and read everything else in one fell mostly chronological swoop(memory isn’t in the omnibuses so I forgot it)

  52. I wouldn’t recommend starting with CVA either, for all the reasons previously mentioned re. spoilers – also I’d think the effect re. Ivan is lessened if you haven’t read the other books. I started with Shards of Honor, then The Warrior’s Apprentice. Re. Cryoburn, except for the end (and yeah, that ending and those Drabbles hit me between the eyes on every re-read), this book isn’t really about Miles: it’s about the ripple effect of Miles, his impact on other people’s lives. It’s about the little people, the people who are usually ignored, bit parts, unimportant…

  53. Xopher: That’s not Comic Sans. It’s a comedic font, but it’s not that one. Squinting at the books, I couldn’t tell you the font faces of the other ones, but I could find them within three tries. Good lord I know these things too well for not actually getting paid in regards to that knowledge.

    In regards to Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, I got to use the phrase “comedic subsidence” in regards to it. If you don’t know that word, look it up AFTER you’ve read the book, because it’s a very mild spoiler.

  54. Ringo has zombies. Yawn. Mira Grant has the only zombies I want to read.

    Ballantine has dragons. haven’t read any new dragon stories for a while, so maybe that’s next. (RIP, Anne McAffery)

    Bujold’s CVA! A great book, but when the sidekick gets his own book, it loses half the impact if you don’t know he’s the former sidekick, pushed onto cetner stage. But it’s ‘Not My Fault!!!’ ™

    Alternate Histories of hte World has MAPS? I want to read that!

    Cooking Comically – It does not have a ‘look inside’ on Amazon. This makes me sad.

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