Received, 1/18/07

I mentioned earlier that I’m going to start noting the books that come to the Scalzi Compound for me to review/pimp/validate by mere acknowledgment of their existence. Here’s the first batch, compiling up the books that have been sent to me in the last month or so that I have not otherwise noted to this point. If you didn’t know these books were out (or are coming out soon, in some cases), now you know. I’m including Amazon links when possible, so you can go spend money on them like a good consumer. From the top down:

1. The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Edited by George Mann. Solaris is a brand-spankin’ new science fiction imprint that’s sending out books both over in its native UK and here in the US. This book is its calling card, a collection of original short stories from folks like Neal Asher, Stephen Baxter, Peter Hamilton, Jay Lake & Greg Van Eekhout, Mary Turzillo and others. Looks like a pretty nice way to say hello.

2. The Man Who Melted, Jack Dann. Dann’s classic dystopic novel from 1984, reissued by Pyr in a nice-look trade paperback edition. I understand this book is the genesis of the literary game “The Man Who Melted Jack Dann,” in which the name of the author is added to the back of the title of one of their books to craft an amusing sentence; other amusing sentences in this game include “Contact Carl Sagan” and “Twin Sisters Gore Vidal.” As it happens, I can play this game with the title of one of my books: “The Androids Dream John Scalzi.” So that’s how I got here!

3. The Liberty Gun, Martin Sketchley. The final book in Sketchley’s “Structure” series. The book comes with an audiography, so if you want to know what the soundtrack is when today’s hot SF writers bang out their stories of aliens and explosions, now you’ll be able to find out.

3a. Deep Storm, Lincoln Child. Whoops, when I originally posted this I forgot to mention this book, which is why the “3a” designation. Sorry about that, Lincoln Child. This book is sort your basic modern-day science fiction, in which our heroes find some really interesting and possibly dangerous things on the ocean floor. If you’re thinking “Hmmm, this sounds sort of Atlantis-y,” you may be right. This is just the sort of book they make very expensive movies out of.

4. Secret Life: The Select Fire Remix, Jeff VanderMeer. I meant to do a fuller write-up of this collection but then I was attacked by rodents, or something like that. Anyway, the more I read of Jeff VanderMeer, the more I realize the guy is just plain nuts, but he’s just plain nuts in a way that makes for damn fine reading, and really, that’s what matters (to me, anyway). Also, frankly, the idea of re-mixing a story collection is oddly esthetically appealing to me (this version includes two additional stories and a lot of funky bits). I liked this a lot.

5. Worldweavers, Alma Alexander. This is the upcoming first book in Alma’s new YA series. I’m going to be interviewing Alma closer to when the book comes out (it’s slated for March 1st), so you can look forward to that. I was actually sent two copies of this. I appreciate the enthusiasm.

6. The Wrath of Angels, Theodore Beale. It’s not pictured in the stack because it was sent along as a pdf file (which, now that I have my shiny, shiny big monitor with portrait mode, I don’t mind in the least). This is the third book in Beale’s series of Christian-themed fantasies (the other two being The War in Heaven and The World in Shadow), although you don’t need to read the other two to follow what’s going on; I didn’t have a problem catching up, in any event. If you’re interested in checking out this series, Beale has all of them up in their entirety: Heaven, Shadow, Wrath.

7. Rude Mechanicals, Kage Baker. For fans of Baker’s “Company” novels, this is a limited-edition short novel coming up in April set in that same universe. It has cyborgs in the year 1934. Finally, FDR’s election makes perfect sense!

8. White Bicycles, Joe Boyd. This isn’t fiction, it’s a memoir from music producer Joe Boyd, who happened to be around for various seminal events in the sixties, from Dylan going electric at Newport to producing the first single of a little band called Pink Floyd. A tagline on the back cover of the book says it all: “He lived — and helped shape — the Sixties… and he remembers it all.” Well, someone has to.

8. Methuselah’s Daughter, J.A. Eddy and Dean Esmay. Dean Esmay’s name is certainly familiar to denizens of the blogosphere, as Dean’s World is one of the more popular blogs out there. This book is also about a blogger, of sorts: Zsallia Marieko, whose blog bio starts off with the interesting fact that she’s 3500 years old. It probably goes faster than you might imagine after the first thousand years or so, I’d bet. In any event, this is an onion-peel of a book, in that there’s a whole lot of layers going on here, in the text and in the blog world.

9. Compass Reach, Metal of Night and Peace & Memory, Mark W. Tiedemann: Mark sent along his entire Secantis Sequence of books without me even having to drop a hint, which means either he is totally psychic, or he’s just a really lovely fellow. Maybe both! Who can say. It does remind me to note that Mark’s current book Remains, which I enjoyed the hell out of, is currently on the Nebula long list; this after making the short list for last year’s Tiptree Award. It deserves both accolades, and naturally I think you should check it out (especially if you can vote on the Nebulas).

10. Getting to Know You, David Marusek and The Shadows, Kith and Kin, Joe R. Lansdale. These are short story collections, due in April from Subterranean Press. I just got these and haven’t cracked their spines yet, but am looking forward to doing so, particularly the Marusek; I met David at Worldcon and he is a wonderful and fascinating guy in addition to being an excellent writer.

There; that’s one pile down. I’ll do this again when I have another pile.

24 Comments on “Received, 1/18/07”

  1. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, ude-nay

    Yeah, but what’s Krissy reading these days?

  2. No love for Lincoln Child?

    I am a huge Preston and Child fan, so I’m eagerly anticipating “Deep Storm”. I have read all of their collaborative and solo efforts, and I’m hoping Deep Storm will give me a quick fix until my copy of The Sagan Diaries shows up.

    Did you read it John?

  3. Jeff VanderMeer did a very cool deal where he hawked Secret Life: Select Fire and Tainaron by Leena Krohn for drastically reduced prices. I took up the offer and have very much enjoyed both books. Agree that the man is mad, in a most excellent way.

    If you haven’t read Tainaron, I’d highly recommend it. Very short, beautiful writing about a city of insects, and beautifully put together hardcover.

  4. Wow, how’d you get on the review list for a Joe Boyd memoir? To a lot of people, Boyd is the center of the modern British electric-folk movement (although other folks would probably argue for Ashley Hutchings). Boyd produced tons of classic stuff, including Fairport Convention, Richard (and Linda) Thompson, and Nick Drake.

  5. Other than Kage Baker and Joe Lansdale (who’s a wild and crazy guy with a coupla cute daughters), I’ve never heard of any of these folks. Should I have???

  6. “like a good consumer?” The library is my own personal I can order any book I like on the library website, get rare titles through interlibrary loan, and they have a drive through so I don’t even have to park and walk inside. However, I must admit that I have read more than one book based on your recommendations, and you have excellent taste.

  7. Milo:

    “The library is my own personal I can order any book I like on the library website, get rare titles through interlibrary loan, and they have a drive through so I don’t even have to park and walk inside.”

    Intellectual property thief! You owe me royalties! Soon my horde of specially trained Capuchin monkeys will find you and steal all your dimes!

    Yeah, reading them in the library is fine, too.

  8. How are Beale’s books? As a Christian, I try not to read Christian fiction, especially Christian sci-fi/fantasy, because I almost invariably find that (a) the quality is so poor that (I would hope) it would not be accepted by a regular publishing house or (b) the author tries way too hard to thrust (usually a limited perspective of) the Christian faith into the the narrative, to the detriment of the story he’s actually trying to tell.

    But I figure if the writing is good enough that you like it, and the Christianity aspects aren’t too awkwardly handled to throw you off, I might be willing to give it a shot.

  9. The most common way of making a Jack Dannism is to take a title that goes “The Adjective Noun” and reinterpret it as “The Noun Transitive-Verb”. E.g.:

    The Gilded Chain Dave Duncan
    The Subtle Knife Philip Pullman

    There are other possibilities, though:
    Lord of the Fire Lands Dave Duncan
    Rainbows End Vernor Vinge
    The First Wives Club Olivia Goldsmith
    Tim Powers The Anubis Gates

    (Please note that the two in the middle have been checked and have no disfiguring apostrophes!)

  10. You are an evil evil man, John Scalzi. Do you know that? ;0)

    My to-read pile isn’t exactly getting any smaller, you know, and now you tempt me with stuff like this on top of the two books I’ve planned to order online after seeing them recommended here.

    Have you no shame? ;0)

    BTW: my boyfriend, whom I introduced to OMW and TGB, has now bought TAD online, because he realised that I wasn’t going to.

    See what you’ve caused?

    Hours of reading pleasure, that’s what!

  11. The First Wives Club Olivia Goldsmith is an excellent addition to the canon. But, Scalzi, it’s Two Sisters Gore Vidal, not “Twin Sisters.”

    The best of those come from a word changing its part of speech, or a proper name turning into a word. Having the result be a plausible sentence or sentence fragment is also good.

    My favorite recent example from your publisher and mine: Leopards Kill Jim DeFelice.

  12. Here’s a second on the Loving Preston & Child collaborations. Having read all of their solo and jonit works like Christian, I think it to be high praise that neither mans style (noticeably different in solo form) dominates or bleeds through in their dual efforts.

  13. Milo wrote:
    The library is my own personal […] and they have a drive through so I don’t even have to park and walk inside.

    Well, that kills the major charm of good public libraries and brick and mortar bookshops for me – the happy accident while aimlessly cruising the shelves.

  14. AlmaAlexander – I'm a scientist by education, a duchess by historical accident and an author who shares writing tips and glimpses of a writer's life, the mundane and the magic

    Mr Sorgen – if you want to know more about MY stuff, mosey on over to my website and have a look! Look forward to the interview, John.

    (And, seeing my offering on that pile, I guess I might really have noticed before but it’s REALLY obvious in that picture – I can’t help wondering if they’ll go for a different colour scheme on the actual book as opposed to the ARC – that purple-on-black title is REALLY hard to see…)

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