Just Arrived, 10/14/10
Posted on October 14, 2010 Posted by John Scalzi 13 Comments
All this talk of electronic books today makes me want to tell you about the physical books which have arrived at my house in the last week. And here we go:
* The Wonderful Future That Never Was, Gregory Benford and the Editors of Popular Mechanics (Hearst Books): Or, hey, this is where your flying car went. The picture-heavy book looks at all the breathless predictions about the future that Popular Mechanics has made over its century-long publishing history and tells you all about the ones that didn’t quite show up — at least not in the form shown here. Well, at least we don’t have to all wear silvery tunics. I was slipped an early version of the book to see if I would blurb it, and had so much fun with it that I did. If you’re a big future nerd like I am (or alternately, a retro science fiction writer who needs reference material for when steampunk burns out), this is going be a book you’ll want. It’s out now, and ironically one for which getting the print version is definitely the way to go.
* Echo, Jack McDevitt (Ace): Nebula Award winner McDevitt adds to the Alex Benedict saga, and this time the galaxy’s foremost antiquities collector is hot on the trails of clues that point to evidence of a whole new alien civilization — only the second ever found. This hits on November 2.
* The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, edited by Robin Harve and Stephanie Meyers (Harper Perrenial): No, not Stephenie Meyer, although how amusing would that be? This is a collection of Christmas-related essays from A-list atheists like Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox, Neal Pollack, my personal pal Phil Plait, and others, including Simon Le Bon, which is a name that pretty much pops the “bwuh?” button for me, but, hey, welcome to the party, Simon. The front matter of the book says the book is “an atheist book it’s safe to leave around your grandmother,” which certainly sounds like a dare to me. This is also out on November 2.
* The Fallen Blade, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Orbit): Grimwood, who writes dark, twisty science fiction, is trying his hand at fantasy this time around. Is it dark and twisty? Well, with vampires skulking around the Renaissance, all signs point to oh, my, yes. I’m a fan of Grimwood’s work, so this is definitely in my “to read” pile. For all y’all, however, you’ll have to wait until January.
* Kris Longknife: Redoubtable, Mike Shepard (Ace): The latest chapter of the long-running Kris Longknife saga has our heroine fighting slavers and pirates while trying to stay clear of a powerful rival power. But then it gets personal. As it always will, sooner or later. This one lands October 26.
* Gilded Latten Bones, Glen Cook (Roc): Cook adds another installment to his fantasy private investigator series, and this time Garrett’s trying to break away from the P.I. lifestyle and settle down. But then someone tries to kidnap his love! And beats up his best friend! Hey, remember when I said it gets personal in the last paragraph? Well, guess what? It gets personal here, too. This is out in November.
* Enemies and Allies, Kevin J. Anderson (Harper): Superman! Batman! Cold war! And so on and so forth. This is the paperback edition, and is out now.
Enemies and Allies is better than the Superman book Anderson wrote a couple years ago. But that’s not saying much. It’s serviceable at best, but Tom De Haven’s It’s Superman is a much, much better read if you’re looking for a super hero novel.
Two if the important “the Editors of Popular Mechanics” are Rose Fox and Alyssa Smith.
Rose Fox is my wonderful wife, of whom I’m incredibly proud of for producing that amazing book. You can, and totally should buy it here. It makes a dandy holiday gift for anyone who’s all gee-whiz about science. Plus, the cover comes off and is a full size poster.
I should mention again how proud I am of Rose for making this happen. She rocks.
I think we need a name for this upcoming SF sub-genre. Transistorpunk?
(I want John Hawkes-Reed to get more famous so I can claim to have been first to label him “Ealingpunk.”)
I dunno, most of that crazy stuff seems like it’s from the post-Atom Bomb era, where everyone was predicting nuclear powered everything. Nuclear powered cars, airplanes, etc. The origin of Mr Fusion, really.
As far as the other just arriveds, I’m going to be all over the new Kris Longknife book.
I’m loving all the military space opera the last several years. It’s a good time to be into military space opera. The Lt Leary books, Vatta’s War, Black Jack Geary (which is now completed), etc. For so long it was only Honor Harrington; it’s good to have more material to read.
I really wish R.M. Meluch would write some more Tour of the Merrimack books.
Meh… only “The Wonderful Future That Never Was” sounds remotely interesting…
“I think we need a name for this upcoming SF sub-genre. Transistorpunk?”
I’ve been thinking of writing some retro-sci-fi tinged stuff lately. I have a couple ideas, and I’ve been categorizing them as “retrograde” for my personal little sub-genre organizational needs. I initially thought “retropunk”, but I like “retrograde” better as it seems broader. Whenever something has punk in it, I think it inevitably leads back to cyberpunk, which implies dirty and gritty fictional worlds. The cool thing about the retro-era is that they envisioned the future as a very clean, shiny, and almost sterile place.
I like it in that retrograde implies looking back, as in retrograde motion. Then of course, retro as in the 40’s-60’s period in terms of tech, slang, fashion, etc. Of course, the “grade” part immediately makes me think of the word “degrade”, as in degradation. So retrograde could imply both shiny clean sci-fi or maybe a cyberpunkian take on the retro era as well where the future is not all it is cracked up to be, but with retro/googie architecture and technology.
Transistorpunk could work though too.
I bet there could even be a few other possible sub-genres that could branch off of the retrograde or transistorpunk one. How about one that is firmly rooted in the 1920’s to late 1930’s, which would be called decopunk, as in the Art Deco period?
Mr Scalzi, you just made my day with that Garret PI book. I had no idea Glen Cook was even working on those still! Woot!
@ tumblweed – There’s plenty of pre-atomic stuff in there as well. Buildings and offices from the 1930’s and 1920’s, pneumatic tubes(!) Plastic houses you can repair with a hot iron, food made from grass to feed the poor, UV rays to avoid rickets in children who’re prone to them, electric fog dispellers to avoid ships collisions, and so on.
Methinkst the gentleman doest protest too much.
Sorry, John, anyone of our generation knows who Simon le Bon is, if only because the girls he liked back in high school knew who Simon le Bon was…and possibly because Simon was splashed all over MTV back in the dark ages when MTV played (gasp! Dare I say it?) music videos. All I have to say is “Hungry Like the Wolf” and you’re right there, aren’t you?
All joking aside, thank you for the mention of the Popular Mechanics book. I think I know something that my engineer, sci-fi fan husband is getting in his Christmas stocking this year! :)
A new Grimwood book? Oh yes. I know what my birthday gift to myself will be, come January. His works are excellent!
Dunno if you get comments on these old entries any more, but I wanted you to know that the book sold through it’s first print run before the holidays, and is in its second printing, which should hit Amazon’s warehouses in a week or two. Thanks for the boost.