Books to Spend Your Gift Cards On
All this talk about marketing and publicist guidelines and so on reminds me that there’s a stack of books on my desk that I’ve been meaning to chat about for a while but which I’ve neglected to because I’ve been all about me recently. Well, enough about me, let’s talk about some of these books for a while.
1. The Blonde, by Duane Swierczynski — Swierczynski’s a man after my own heart because he’s clearly a follower of the Theory of First Sentences, which states that the first sentence of your book damn well better grab your reader by the throat and then drag their eyes down the rest of the page. Anyone’s who’s read The Android’s Dream will tell you that I’m a subscriber of this theory myself, so it’s nice to see another member of the secret club. No, I’m not going to tell you the sentence. You should read it yourself. I will tell you the tagline on the back of the book, though: “It’s your typical love story: Boy meets girl. Girl kidnaps boy. Boy loses girl and is pursued by a professional killer carrying a decapitated head in a gym bag.” Boy, if I had a dollar for every time that happened to me.
Anyway, this is a fun hard-boiled thriller with just the tiniest dash of science fiction dropped in, and you’ll like it or I’ll send ferrets to chew off your toes. No, really. I will. I’ve just roped Swierczynski into an Author Interview, so you’ll have a chance to learn a little more about him in the next couple of weeks. But in the meantime, check this one out.
2. Hart & Boot & Other Stories, by Tim Pratt — Speaking of Author Interviews, another fellow I’ll harangued into an interview is Tim Pratt, and a good thing too, since I’m on a short story kick and this is a fine collection of a baker’s dozen of his stories. So I plan to learn all his secrets and suck his brain dry and leave him an enervated husk. Don’t tell him; it’s meant to be a surprise. The title story of this collection, incidentally, was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2005 anthology by Michael Chabon. Yeah, I don’t know who he is, either. But he does have pretty good taste, apparently.
3. Trial of Flowers, by Jay Lake — I’m a little behind on this one, since it came out in September, and I actually read it after Mainspring, Jay’s upcoming novel from Tor (which I liked quite a bit). I like this one too; one of the things I find interesting about it is how different it is from Mainspring, in various interesting ways. I think of Jay a bit like I think of Elizabeth Bear: writers who apparently won’t be satisfied until they write in every possible sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy. This is not a criticism, especially since (so far, at least) Jay and Bear are showing they have the chops for it. I think it also means that fans of Jay Lake’s work are ultimately fans of Jay Lake, and like the idea the he sprints after his muse no matter what direction she wanders off to.
4. Dreadful Skin, by Cherie Priest — This one’s not out until March, so I won’t go into too much detail now, but suffice to say that my reader crush on Cherie continues unabated. Don’t worry, my wife knows. And approves! Because she likes to read Cherie too. Remember that while you’re waiting, you can read the first third at the Subterranean Press Web site.
5. The Future is Queer, edited by Richard Labonte and Lawrence Schimel — What? An anthology of queer science fiction? Dude, that’s so gay. It’s also pretty good, although I have to confess that outside of Neil Gaiman and editor Lawrence Schimel, I’m entirely unfamiliar with the folks in this anthology. This is a feature, not a bug — it’s nice to read people I haven’t read yet — and I expect it says more about my need to read more widely in SF than the obscurity of the authors in the collection, since people in it have won Arthur C. Clarke and Tiptree awards, and have been nominated for the Nebula. I am abashed in my ignorance. I’m working to correct it.
6. Trouble Magnet, by Alan Dean Foster — Someone at Del Rey unwittingly has my number, because I feel about Alan Dean Foster pretty much the way I feel about the rock band Journey, which is to say he’s someone whose work I gorged on in my younger years and enjoyed so much that even today my residual affection for the author inclines me to enjoy his work fairly independent of the work itself. Incidentally, I think this says something very positive about Foster, because something like that doesn’t actually happen without talent. Foster has this science fiction thing down, he gives fine value for the money, and you walk away satisfied with the reading experience in no small part because Foster is extremely competent at the writing craft, and that baseline competence is, alas, always underrated (as it was, incidentally, with Journey, the members of which, individually, were amazing musicians). Now, clearly, I understand that not everyone wants a Journey-like experience in their science fiction literature; that’s fine. Just means more for me.
Hey, if there are any books written in the last year or upcoming that you’d like to plug, the comment thread is a fine place to do it. This is a non-self-pimping thread, however: Promote other people’s good works, if you would. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for self-pimpery here at other times, trust me.