Book Haul 8/26/08
Posted on August 26, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 38 Comments
I’ve been traveling so much this month that I’ve had books come in and stack up, so instead of the usual one of these posts I do every couple of weeks or so, I’ll be doing three of them: One today, one tomorrow and one Thursday, at which point I’m sure I’ll have even more new books in, but then I’ll be on my way to Lexington and Atlanta. It never ends. In this group, however, are some recent and upcoming hardcovers. What have we got?
Pirate Sun, Karl Schroeder: Karl’s Virga series keeps getting bigger and better, and this latest book is even more hot space opera goodness. As most of you know, I had a chance to work with Karl directly recently with our upcoming Metatropolis audio anthology, and I’ll tell you what: The man can spin out ideas like the rest of us breathe. If you haven’t been reading Karl’s stuff, you need to start, and if you have read Karl’s stuff, you need to get Pirate Sun. It came out a couple of weeks ago.
The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, Victor Pelevin: What? Another book about urban werewolves? What’s this one got that the others don’t? Well, in this case, the urban area is Moscow and the werewolf in question is actually a millennia-old seductive werefox from ancient China. Which, you know, is not the usual thing. Author Pelevin is apparently a big seller in Russia (this book sold a quarter of a million copies there), so Viking’s hoping lightning strikes twice. Well, see. Superhot ancient werefoxes seems like a good way to do it. This book comes out September 4 (i.e., next week).
The Bell at Sealey Head, Patricia A. McKillip: This light fantastical mystery, aside from its own qualities as a story, also has a jacket that’s in the running for the prettiest book cover of 2008. And there’s nothing bad about that. This book arrives on September 2.
The Scourge of God, S.M. Stirling: The followup to The Sunrise Lands, one of the “Books of the Change,” in which ordinary mechanical physics was shown the door and magic brought in to take its place — damned inconvenient if you spend most of your time on the Internet, I suspect. I actually saw S.M. Stirling a couple of times at Worldcon and meant to go over and say hello, but each time someone else crossed my path before I could get to him. I will track him down eventually. And now having said that I realize how much like stalking that sounds like. Really, it’s not like that. This is also with a September 2 arrival date.
Riders of the Storm, Julie E. Czerneda: The sequel to Reap the Wild Wind, which is in itself a prequel to Czerneda’s Trade Pact Universe trilogy, which I suppose goes to show that a sequel to a prequel does not, in fact, always get you back to where you originally started. Not cracked this one open yet, but I’ve enjoyed other stuff from Czerneda that I’ve read, so I’m looking forward to this. Also comes out September 2.
Mars Life, Ben Bova: Bova returns to the world of Mars and Return to Mars (that world being, uh, well, Mars) for a story that pits the explorers of the ruins of an ancient Martian civilization against an increasingly fundamentalist US government. Fundamentalists! They never go away. I finally got the chance to meet Bova in Denver; he was going out of a panel while I was coming in for another one. We had 45 seconds of polite pleasantries. Hopefully I’ll meet him again. This time maybe for a minute and a half! This one’s already out.
Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik: This is the Subterranean Press signed limited edition of the book, complete with ginchy inside illustrations. It is very, very pretty (which it should be, because it’s a $125 book). If you’re a Temeraire fan, you can begin your lusting now — there do seem to be some copies still available.
Starlady/Fast-Friend, George RR Martin : Another SubPress offering, this one involving two 70s-era novellas from Martin, arranged “Ace Double Novel”-style. Yes, it will take you back, my friends. Available now.
Ubik: The Screenplay, Philip K. Dick: PKD is famously the go-to guy for Hollywood science fiction, but what many people don’t know is that he tried his hand at screenplays himself. This edition puts Dick’s Ubik screenplay back into circulation after a couple of decades; the screenplay, as noted by Tim Powers in his introduction, is more than just a rearrangement of the story into the film medium — it offers some insight into the characters that only Dick would have been in a position to provide. Now what would be cool would be to have this screenplay see the light of a projection bulb one day. Also available now, from Subterranean Press.
Your thoughts on any of these?
geez, I’d do *ANYTHING* for that s.m. stirling book NOW – going on a long road trip this weekend and I know I wouldn’t look up until we got there.
The only one of those that really interests me is the PKD screenplay – he was always one of my favorite authors. Maybe some minor interest in the werewolf one, except I’ve basically gotten tired of urban fantasy these days. As a paperback it would probably be a decent airport read, a hardback? Not so much.
I’ve not read the S.M. Stirling stuff, but it looks interesting. Anyone care to proffer an opinion on the first parts of the series?
Okay, this has nothing to do with the books, but did you know that your sunset banner o’ the week appears to get bigger if you stare at it? I think you may have a black hole on your blog. You might want to look into that problem.
I mean, not literally look into the black hole. I’m told that’s very bad. But seriously. Can anyone else see that sucker MOVE?
The Sacred Book of the Werewolf.
What’s it got that the others don’t?
Some kind of lime buildup on the boobies and vajayjay area.
I think there’s a cream for that.
I really loved Pelevin’s Life of Insects, so misgivings about urban fantasy aside, the weirwolf book could be good.
Besides, I found something very compelling in other Russian urban fantasy (Lukyanenko’s Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch series.
I’ve been awaiting the Patricia McKillip book, and Terry’s been waiting on The Scourge of God, so we have serious book envy over here, ya big jerk.
But I’m enjoying Zoe’s Tale, so I have that going for me.
Hmmm, isn’t Pelevin the same guy who wrote that short story, A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia?
Czerneda is a fantastic writer. I still need to go pick up Reap the Wild Wind though… but thanks for reminding me!
I absolutely LOVE Czerneda’s work. Can’t wait to read the new one.
I’ve recenty read the “ace double” of GRRM’s work (the Subterranean Press version) Starlady had a quality that I rarely see in a book – generated tons of empathy for the characters and tells a great story with tight prose – then (SPOILER ALERT) messes with the characters that I’ve grown to care about in such a way that leaves me angry- huge PUNCH in about 100 pages
An additiional note about PKD screenplays: Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter on “Being John Malkovich”) wrote one for “A Scanner Darkly.”
New Patricia McKillip Book! Hooray!
jason @ 11: That reaction makes me suspect you haven’t read much GRRM.
Bought Pirate Sun just the other day. Karl Schroeder is a hell of a writer, and the Virga series just oozes awesome.
Patricia McKillip is one of my favorite authors. When every fantasy out there seems to be of the big sprawly epic variety, she writes these beautiful self-contained gems.
And Kinuko Craft’s covers are amazing.
The Subterranean Naomi Novik books are gorgeous.
But whether you read that or a paperback, I think it’s oneof the best series going right know. Amazingly well-written and getting deeper with every book.
A little too philosophical at times, but still great.
The Stirling books are interesting.
Remember “Island In The Sea of Time,” etc.?
These books look at what happened on Earth when the “Event” that sucks the Eagle back in time occurred.
Highly recommended for SCA members.
Got most of those, though that Sub Press hardcover of Throne of Jade looks sweet! It’s also nice to see them reissue the Ubik screenplay. There was a small press hardcover release of that back in the 80’s that I still have my copy of! Also over the past couple of weeks, I got Ill Met in the Arena by Dave Duncan, The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard from Del Rey, a ton of stuff from Spectra including T.A. Pratt’s Dead Reign, and Diana Pharaoh Francis’s The Black Ship. Gonna be a good reading month.
Quite jealous over the GRRM double. I’ve read his Dreamsongs collections (originally from SubPress, of course) and the man’s short fiction is simply outstanding. Makes me want to go find the short work of his that wasn’t collected in Dreamsongs.
Like I didn’t already have a long enough to read list…
and Tei @ 4 – I thought it was just me and didn’t want to say anything! It is an amazing photo – thanks John!
See you Saturday in Decatur.
*Drools next to “Throne of Jade”*
Can I pet it and hug it and name it George?
Subterranean does such pretty books. I’m too broke to afford them but surfing their site is dangerously tempting.
I’ve been waiting for the Stirling book for a while – it’ll be nice to find out what’s happening with my favorite characters.
I just finished Zoe’s Tale which I want to say is excellent and totally belated but congrats on the Hugo.
I’m jealous of Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik – I read the others in a few weeks, and the wait for this one has been very, very long. The stories and writing are what you’d get if you merged Alexander Kent books with Anne McCaffery’s Pern. Two incredibly different writing styles but I enjoy them both and mixed together it’s fantastic.
Liz, Throne of Jade is the second book in the series, it was published in 2006. Probably you’re confusing it with Victory of Eagle, released (hard cover) in July.
I’m eagerly waiting for the MMPB, sometimes in 2009, alas.
Pirate Sun rocks, but Queen of Candesce is still my favorite in the series.
(Spoilery spoilers for Pirate Sun)
Part of Pirate Sun bugged me. Specifically, the explanation for why entities from Artificial Nature were so interested in Candesce seemed inconsistent with what we learned in the earlier novels about the timing of Virga’s construction and the arrival of Artificial Nature from Sol system. I can’t decide if it was a retcon or if a character was lying.
andrew @14: you are correct – this was my 1st exposure to GRRM (besides ‘Hunter’s Run’ which was a collaboration)
Adele@21: I spend way too much$ at sub press- thier “trade” editions are nearly as glorious as the limiteds – and available at amazon for less$$ – I just picked up Connie Willis’ omnibus there
other than Subterranean and Night Shade – anyone have a recomendation for a small press for hard to find titles?
Subterranean produces gorgeous books. They’re elegant and well made and worth every damn penny of their asking price.
I am scratching my brains to find this one Ben Bova book I read as a kid. Something about a drelict generation ship where the inhabitants have lost their technological abilities. Then this one kid finds out how to talk to the computers again and it goes on from there. Wish I could remember what it was. Looked on his website and Amazon, too. No luck.
I am dying to read Pirate Sun, once I burn through the 10,000 other books ahead of it on the list. Curse you great writers!!!
Ok, obviously I have to retire RIGHT NOW so I can catch up on my reading…
Chang, I think you’re thinking of Heinlein’s Orphan’s of the Sky.
The Stirling books are a blast. Sample chapters at smstirling.com.
Chang@27 and Chopper@29:
Ben Bova also wrote a book along those lines, End of Exile, Wikipedia says it was in 1975. It is a sort-of sequel to two earlier books, but is set long after the others and very different from them.
Some markers: The Heinlein had a two headed “mutie” JoeJim and their strong but stupid minion “Bobo”. There was a continous war between the “muties” on the upper decks and the normal humans on the lower decks.
In the Bova book the humans are the only people on the ship (with one exception). Most of the ship is broken down and uninhabitable. The society is made up of children. They have a sort of religion built up around a video message from an adult.
@#8 Redheadread is correct. It’s in a collection also called “The Werewolf Problem in Central Russia.” Here’s the obligatory Amazon link http://tinyurl.com/5zwcay
Sounds interesting, no?
“The Scourge of God, S.M. Stirling: . . .one of the “Books of the Change,” in which ordinary mechanical physics was shown the door and magic brought in to take its place . . .”
To pick a nit, it is not clear that magic is actually involved. There are a lot of things that happen in the series that certainly appear to be due to magic, but Stirling is still leaving the door open for other explanations for strange events – and those strange events are only a small portion of the books.
Most of the content of the books revolves around the behavior of people in a world in which electricity no longer works, gunpowder fizzles but does not explode, internal combustion engines do not produce useful output power, etc. – and there is no transportation system capable of bringing enough food and water to the metropolitan areas.
(Minor point – most of the fans of this series refer to it as the “Emberverse”, after the first book in the series, which had the title “Dies The Fire”.)
“I’ve not read the S.M. Stirling stuff, but it looks interesting. Anyone care to proffer an opinion on the first parts of the series?”
S. M. Stirling has been getting my money for hardback copies of his books for many years, including for this series.
Personally, for this series I suggest starting with “Dies The Fire” and reading the books in sequence. This is not a requirement, but some of the character development progresses from book to book, even though a given book may stand alone. The first three books primarily involve the generation that is alive at the time of the “Change”. Starting with the fourth in the series, the storyline is primarily focused on the next generation, some 23 years later.
With best wishes,
– Tom –
A few years ago I stumbled upon Marching through Georgia, a S.M. Stirling book; I duly read it all (since I’ve started reading, at age 5, there are only two books I never managed to finish), then I looked for the plot of the rest of the series in Wikipedia and decided that I couldn’t continue. I really couldn’t stand the worldwide triumph of the über-Nazis.
I never read any other Stirling book since then.
For anybody in the area, Stirling will be at Mysterious Galaxy on the 6th. Part of his west coast SoG tour.
Steve has chapters from Scourge up at his web site so you can get an idea of what the series is like there.
In brief, the series is dark. then it gets worse. Mass die offs, bureaucratic obtuseness, myths walking the Earth, and the Unabomber has a part. The Lord of the Rings has a part, and you can see parallels with The Matter of Britain. Keep your eyes open for mentions of author Donan Coyle, who wrote articles on famous people of his time such as Sherlock Holmes.
The first trilogy —Dies the Fire, The Protector’s War, and A Meeting at Corvallis is the story of Juniper Mackenzie, Michael Havel, and Norman Arminger (the bad guy) and how they — for good motives or bad — save some measure of civilization and establish new nations in the ashes of the old world. Knights in armor, cannibals, witchcraft and the old gods.
The current series — The Sunrise Lands and The Scourge of God is about Rudi Mackenzie, son of Juni and Mike and avatar of Arctos, and his companions as they face the Church United and Triumphant in their quest for a sword to be found on the once 13th century BC island of Nantucket. Note that there are nine in the company, because The History sets nine as the required number. There is war, a dark god possessing his chief priest, and glimpses of events elsewhere in the world. And a king to come, who is one of the nine and son of a king betrayed and brother to the betrayer.
Not that there aren’t plenty of other books for you to read, but if you ever want to take a stab at Stirling again, check out his Nantucket series, starting with Island in the Sea of Time. It’s the flip side of the “Change” series, and probably his most optimistic books. Instead of mass die-offs and failure of modern technology, we have the island of Nantucket mysteriously transferred back to the Bronze age. There, the Nantucketers introduce the concepts of democracy (New England town meeting variety) and medicine (post-Lister and Fleming) and work with the natives to get back to at least 19th century technology.
Of course, this being Stirling, there are also Eeeeeevil bad guys and hot lesbians, but this time the bad guys aren’t impossible to defeat and the hot lesbians are good guys.
Pelevin in large doses will scramble your brain something fierce. Check out “The Prince of Gosplan,” which is, I think, in the aforementioned _Werewolf Problem in Central Russia_ collection.
Captain Button # 30, MILLE GRAZIE!!!
I knew it was definitely Bove and not Heinlein. I read them a bazillion years ago. Now to find them again!
I read the first of the S.M. Stirling books a while back – actually, I should say I read PART of the first of the S.M. Stirling books – and thought it was absolutely awful.
Your mileage may vary, but I found the actual writing to be almost insufferably pedantic. The characters were uniformly “perfect” and some of the post-hoc rationalizing about their own actions was too unbelievable – even for science fiction. Some of the ideas were cool, and it seemed like the plot was maybe going somewhere, but the constant preaching about the virtues of Wicca and the pedestrian writing style made it impossible to continue.
It’s a crying shame, too, because I generally love post-apocalyptic stuff.