Monday, September 30, 2013

The Monday-est of All Mondays

The cherry topping on today's shit sandwich is that I've just discovered that my iPad, newly upgraded to the ugly and apparently otherwise-no-different iOS 7, will no longer sync with my computer unless I upgrade that to iTunes 11 and lose the ability to keep multiple windows open.

Again, Jony Ive can suck my balls -- I've been a Mac user for 20+ years, and this is the kind of thing that could tip me over to going all Windows just to get away from this walled-garden bullshit. Neither one of those upgrades gives me a damn thing, and both just make the experience uglier and less useful.

Before that, my train was massively delayed this morning (sending us all on a bus to NYC and then via PATH back to Hoboken) because some idiot took a walk on the railroad track. And then I got into a fender-bender on the way home, so now my car's in the shop for who knows how long.

(The car is the very most annoying piece, but it's pretty much my fault, so I can't properly vent -- my very first accident ever, and it sucks hugely.)

Apple, you're supposed to make things easier -- you need to realize damn fast that means for your users, not for you. Get back to "it just works" and away from "it just looks really slick."

Starktober: An Introduction

Tomorrow sees the beginning of a new series and reading project here on Antick Musings: Starktober.

I'm reading through all of Richard Stark's books -- the twenty-four Parker novels, probably the greatest sustained achievement in mid-century noir, and, interspersed with them, the four related Grofield books -- in order of publication, and I aim to write about one of them at least every weekday in October. So tomorrow we'll begin with The Hunter, and, if I can manage to squeeze the extras onto weekends, I hope to hit Dirty Money on Halloween. There may be a few quote posts along the way, as necessary.

The model is James Bond Daily, a similar reading project from 2009 where I read all of the Ian Fleming Bond books straight through and blogged about them.

If this inspires you, nearly all of Stark's novels are available in very nice uniform editions from the University of Chicago Press, which you can either buy directly from them, from that major online bookstore, or from your local independent.

And, if you don't know, Richard Stark was a pseudonym for one of the greatest mystery writers of the 20th century, Donald E. Westlake, whose Dortmunder books are as definitive as funny crime thrillers as the Parker novels are as dark crime thrillers. Westlake wrote a lot of other stuff as well -- generally excellent, and incredibly varied -- from humorous caper novels to dark psychological thrillers, from SF stories to a western, and from a nonfiction book about a minor invasion to a number of screenplays, including the Oscar-nominated The Grifters.

Starktober begins tomorrow.

The Posts of Starktober:
Starktober 1: The Hunter 
Starktober 2: The Man With the Getaway Face
Starktober 3: The Outfit
Starktober 4: The Mourner
Starktober 5: The Score
Starktober: Internal Dialogue
Starktober 6: The Jugger
Starktober 7: The Seventh
Starktober 8: The Handle
Starktober 9: The Damsel
Starktober 10: The Rare Coin Score
Starktober 11: The Green Eagle Score
Starktober: Who Do You Want to Be?
Starktober 12: The Dame
Starktober 13: The Black Ice Score
Starktober 14: The Sour Lemon Score
Starktober 15: The Blackbird
Starktober 16: Deadly Edge
Starktober 17: Slayground
Starktober 18: Lemons Never Lie
Starktober 19: Plunder Squad
Starktober 20: Butcher's Moon
Starktober 21: Comeback
Starktober 22: Backflash
Starktober 23: Flashfire
Starktober 24: Firebreak
Starktober 25: Breakout
Starktober 26: Nobody Runs Forever
Starktober 27: Ask the Parrot
Starktober 28: Dirty Money
Starktober Lagniappe: Jimmy the Kid
Starktober: The Aftermath

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/28

I'm busy working on the big anniversary post -- Antick Musings turns 8 this Friday -- so this will be brief. These two books were sent by publicists from their respective publishing companies, to me and to lots of other media outlets of various types across the country (and maybe around the world). I haven't read either of them, but here's what they look like to me -- one of them might turn out to be a book you love.

Kakifly's K-ON! High School continues one half of the main K-ON! story, which was about a group of teen girls in high school banding together to form a band (more specifically, to form a band as part of a pop-music club in school, because every experience in the life of a Japanese teen, at least in manga, must be mediated through a wholesome official school club). K-ON! College, which came out in July, followed the three members of the band who graduated, and this one tracks Azusa, who has another year or two to go. The whole series is in 4-koma style -- gag strips like US newspaper comics, presented vertically -- so I imagine it would be pretty easy to jump in here if you wanted to. This is from Yen Press, and is out in October.

And the other thing I have to write about this week is the new novel from Maze Runner author James Dashner, The Eye of Minds. It's a near-future thriller for teen readers, like Maze Runner and its sequels, and Eye of Minds begins a series called "The Mortality Doctrine." This time out, the center of the story is the new flavor of cyberspace -- here called VirtNet -- where a cyberterrorist has recently discovered a way to kill people in real life. Our protagonist is a teen boy who gets caught up in this somehow, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up saving the world -- or, at least, the virtual portion of it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

There'd Better Be Something Good in iOS 7

Because, having just updated my iPad, I'm struck by how ugly and flat all the icons and interface elements look now. Apple did this on purpose?

It's not even retro in its flatness, just dull and lifeless. I can't see how anyone would consider this an improvement in any way.

So there'd better be something that iOS 7 does better than the prior version, or I just smeared a layer of mud on my tablet just to assuage Jony Ive's ego.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Incoming Books from the Top Shelf

You still have a little more than twenty-four hours to take advantage of Top Shelf's amazing yearly web sale, which ends on Friday. I just got my package of wonderfulness, which contains too many books for me to list them separately. (And, besides, I'm not going to do my usual thing and insert Amazon links, since that defeats the whole purpose of hyping the Top Shelf sale.)

But you can see them in this picture, including basically new graphic novels by Jess Fink, Rob Harrell, and the Amazing Unrelated Cannon Brothers, Zander and Kevin.

The books you crave might not be the same as mine, but Top Shelf has a wide array of great stuff, and the prices right now are, frankly, unbelievable.

If you actually have money to spend and eyes to read books and still don't take advantage of this sale, I'm afraid that I will judge you.

I'll give you that link one last time: Top Shelf web sale. After that, you're on your own.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pity the Poor AIG Bankers, Unable To Pay Their Third Mortgages and Fifth Mistresses

Robert Benmosche, CEO of the insurance-finance conglomerate AIG -- you know, the one that nearly tanked the world economy a few years back? that company -- whined to the Wall Street Journal recently that it was so, so horrible that people were outraged about the bonuses he wanted to pay to his hard-working and criminally negligent employees for their economy-wrecking shenanigans.

There is not enough bile in the entire world to express how loathsome his comparison is: he thinks that taxpayers who didn't want their bailout money to go to his incompetent market-manipulators are the same as "pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that–sort of like what we did in the Deep South." Yes, being angry at vast rewards going to people who should rightfully be unemployed -- because their company is vastly worse than bankrupt -- is just like a lynching.

And the thinking behind his statements seems to be the bluntest possible version of "what's the problem? we always make ungodly sums of money -- a little fiscal crisis shouldn't affect that," again showing how vastly out of touch the financial sector is with the real economy and the need to actually provide value in order to be paid. 

The only way to stop the complete financialization of our economy -- and the capture of our political and regulatory apparatus by dangerously self-absorbed cretins like Benmosche -- is to have some real prosecutions of the criminals who caused the crash. Send them to jail for decades, confiscate their property, shut down their companies. (I'd like to say "and sow their field with salt," but a federal judge is unlikely to consider that during sentencing.) Let's start with this clown: he's clearly incompetent at his job, if he's stupid enough to say something like this in public, so the SEC is sure to find evidence of criminal malfeasance if they can just extract their lips from Wall Street's behind long enough to do their damn jobs.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why US Healthcare Costs So Much

Some guy -- if he said his name, I didn't catch it, though he's talking to someone named "Hank" -- explains, far more entertainingly than you'd expect, exactly why the US spends a lot more than similar countries on healthcare and gets much less than they do:

Addendum, several hours later: I believe this guy is trying to be honest and nonpartisan, which is nice, but he skates over the most glaring issue: all that extra money that Americans spend on health care goes primarily to device manufacturers, drug companies, and health-care companies. (Doctors are also paid better in the US than elsewhere, but that's a relatively minor component of the cost differential. There are other minor components as well, most of which he at least mentions.)

So the main obstacles to reform are the entrenched players in those industries, who have huge war-chests funded by their decades of massive profits. And they can be expected to play about as fair as any industry threatened with the evaporation of most of their profit would.

Update, five days later: The video disappeared from this post (why, I have no idea), so I've restored it. Also, the vlogger has been identified -- as I could have done, if I clicked just one more time -- as author John Green, which makes me even happier: I like to find out that the smart, articulate people who agree with me are also writers, since I already believe in their superiority.  

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/21

Some weeks I have a lot of mail; some weeks I have a little. This is one of the "a lot" weeks, which I hope will make people happier.

The rules are the same as always: these books arrived, mostly unexpectedly, in my mailbox over the last week, sent by the hardworking publicists of the trade book-publishing biz. All of them this week, and nearly all of then most of the time, are from the US, since that's where I live -- though I'd be happy to get books from father away, if anyone's offering. I'm going to tell you what I can about them despite not having read them, and I'm going to try to be positive -- but the book I'm snarky about might turn out to be your favorite of the year, so go after what looks good to you.

(Heck, the book I'm snarky about could be my favorite of the year; that's happened before.)

Since there are a lot of books this week, I might be brief about them -- and my apologies to any author if my "brief" comes off as "dismissive."

I'll lead off with the new novel by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., The One-Eyed Man, mostly because I love the moody John Jude Palencar cover art, and want to stick that up top of this post. This is one of Modesitt's occasional standalone SF novels, set on a colony world that's the only source for important life-extension drugs used across the interstellar Unity. To this ecologically fragile, and only slightly understood, world comes a man from offworld, fleeing personal trouble elsewhere. (And I'm entirely sure that Modesitt knows well and intended the faint echoes of Dune you may detect there.) SF is supposed to be about complicated worlds and societies, and this one looks to be right down that street -- so check it out when it hits stores on September 17th in hardcover from Tor.

Next I have two books that I've mentioned here before, so I'll just hit them each briefly to remind you:

Little Star is the new horror novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let the Right One In (which became two movies of similar but slightly different titles, in the US and his native Sweden). Little Star is about a baby girl found in the woods who grows up to become a singing sensation, and it's a St. Martin's trade paperback on October 2nd.

And Jack Campbell's "Lost Stars" military SF epic -- itself a sequel to the prior series "The Lost Fleet" has a second volume in Perilous Shield, an Ace hardcover on October 1.

And now I'll dive into the big box for this week, a collection of books (mostly manga) publishing from Yen Press this month:

Are You Alice?, Vol. 2 continues the latest Wonderland-themed manga (seriously, I've seen four or five of them, for whatever reason) by Ikumi Katagiri and Ai Ninomiya. This time, "Alice" is a boy -- and "Alice" seems to be more of a title than a personal name. There are also more guns than you remember from Lewis Carroll.

Soul Eater, Vol. 16 is the latest in the series -- I think it's popular in the wider world, but I know it's very popular in my own house -- about witch-hunting "Scythemeisters," about their sentient shape-shifting weapons, and about the school they all attend. It's by Atsushi Ohkubo, and I know my sons will find an excuse to grab it from me within a day or two.

Kieli, Vol. 9: The Dead Sleep Eternally in the Wilderness, Part 2 is not a manga, but the finale of Yukako Kabei's light-novel saga about, as the back cover puts it, "a lonely girl" and "an undying soldier," and, at this point, they're "trapped inside the Church's headquarters, which is still surrounded by monsters." So, as usual, book nine is not a good place to begin a story -- we all knew that already, right?

The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan, Vol. 7 continues the side-story of the main Haruhi Suzumiya series (which was originally a light novel series before becoming both manga and anime -- and has several other spin-offs as well), in its goofy, chibi style, with art by Puyo and story by Nagaru Tanigawa.

Goong, Vol. 13 is officially manwha rather than manga, since it comes from Korea and reads left-to-right. I believe this series, by Park SoHee, started off about the arranged marriage of the (fictional) Prince of Korea to a commoner girl, but, in this volume, the two main characters have been divorced but come back into contact with each other unexpectedly.

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Prince continues the manga-esque adaptation of the novel by Cassandra Clare (second in the "Infernal Devices" series, set in a Victorian England-- and no points for guessing what subgenre it fits into), with art by HyekYung Baek.

And then there's The Betrayal Knows My Name, Vol. 6, the manga with the emo-est name possible. It's by Hotaru Odagiri, and the back-cover copy is full of frantic activities by names that will be familiar to readers of the prior volumes (but, sadly, not to me).

And last from Yen this month is A Bride's Story, Vol. 5, continuing Kaoru Mori's acclaimed story of young brides on the 19th century Silk Road. I don't believe each volume is self-contained, but this is more episodic than most manga, focusing on one young bride (or two, in the case of the twins this time out) for just a couple of volumes.

Returning to fiction told purely in words, without pictures, Vicious is the first novel credited to V.E. Schwab (which is the thinnest possible pseudonym for the YA author Victoria Elizabeth Schwab; at this point the point just seems to be having a different permutation to make the bookstore computers happy). It's a SF novel set in a world where scientific accidents can lead to superpowers, although it doesn't seem like there are too many superheroes in this world -- our two main characters are former roommates and best friends, now mortal enemies ten years later. I like modern superpowers novels, so I'm going to try to find time to read this. If you get to it before me, let me know how you like it.

Ghosts Know is not a first novel at all: it's the new book by Ramsey Campbell, and I'm not going to try to count the earlier ones so I can say this is the eleventy-first or eleventy-second. This time out, the master of horror has a story about a talk-radio host who humiliates a famous "psychic" on his show and then finds that psychic has fingered him as the culprit in his next case -- with horribly damning evidence. It's a Tor hardcover, coming October 1st.

Steelheart is billed as Brandon Sanderson's "first young adult series," which I think implies that he's written standalone YAs before, and possibly a series for young readers that was officially middle-grade. (He's pretty prolific, and I have to admit I don't know all of his work.) This is another superpowers-in-the-modern-world book, in which a Calamity about a decade back gave a few people superhuman powers -- and, aparrently, turned all of them into world-dominating supervillains. Steelheart is the local overlord, ruling Chicago. And our hero is a boy that wants to kill him. Steelheart is a September 24th hardcover from Delacorte.

The Incrementalists is a new novel by Steven Brust (whose books I've been reading for close to thirty years) and Skyler White (who has two novels I haven't yet seen), about a secret group of two hundred people with memories and history stretching back forty thousand years, who keep making the world just a tiny bit better every year. But now there's a big break -- caused by the death and rebirth of one of this secret society -- and they must gather in Las Vegas to save their group, and (just maybe) the world. It's a Tor hardcover on September 24th, but they had me at "Steven Brust."

Day One is some kind of apocalyptic thriller about New York City under siege "from a deadly and brilliant enemy that can be anywhere and can occupy anything with a computer chip." So it's not necessarily Wintermute, but that's the way I'm betting. The author is Nate Kenyon, the publisher is St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne, and the date is October 1st. This may be one of the few near-future apocalypses you get this year without zombies, so take that into strong consideration.

If you want to break into Big Two corporate comics, you should probably at least take a look at The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics, written by long-time comics scripter Carl Potts and published October 8th by noted art-book house Watson-Guptill. All of the examples are obvious from DC, but it seems to be a reasonably comprehensive look at the writing and art that goes into that particular sausage factory.

Pop Manga will probably be less useful at getting its readers jobs in its target industry, but that's primarily because the world of manga is even tighter than US superhero comics and Americans (this book's expected audience) has a massive disadvantage in not being Japanese. Still, they can draw in a Japanese style, and Camilla D'Errico's book (with Stephen W. Martin) can show how to do that. As far as I can tell, the cover and all of the interior art is by D'Errico, which is a big advantage in a how-to-draw book -- there's one less interpreter in the middle. This is also from Watson-Guptil. available on October 8th.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust

In 1984, Ulli Lust was a rebellious seventeen-year-old punk, a dropout from art school living in her sister's Vienna apartment. Like so many other seventeen-year-olds, she wanted to live, not to settle down with a boring job or school program or any of those things her parents (and everyone else's parents) demanded.

So, one day, with a new friend named Edi who'd made the trip before, she snuck across the border into Italy -- this was before Austria fully joined the EU, so there was still strict border control -- and the two teen girls wandered their way south, looking for adventures and to spend the winter in sunny Sicily.

Twenty-five years later, Lust wrote and drew the story of her younger self as Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, and it was published to acclaim in Berlin, where she's lived for many years. And then, just this year, her graphic story (surely I shouldn't call it a novel, should I?) was translated into English, as one of the last projects of the great editor/translator Kim Thompson.

Lust was very young at the time, but she doesn't judge her younger self at all here -- in an astonishing leap, she tells this story entirely from her younger self's viewpoint, without her later life or thoughts intruding at all. Your Life reads almost precisely like the story that seventeen-year-old girl would have created right then, if she had the energy and skill and distance and fearlessness to do it.

The young Lust had attitude and guts to spare -- she made that whole trip with just the clothes on her back and a borrowed sleeping bag, panhandling for food money and sleeping wherever she could. She also was subject to the attentions of Italian men -- something the "nymphomaniac" Edi didn't mind; Edi was happy, in Lust's retelling years later, to sleep with pretty much anyone who wanted to have her -- in the endless, wearing way of that very traditional Catholic nation at that time, where every foreign woman (especially young, especially traveling alone, especially buxom and shabby, especially poor) was fair game for any man who could grab her. Lust was about as tough as she could be, and she pushed back as hard as she could against that endless, grinding attention and harassment, but she had very little power and Sicily, as she portrays it, cares much more for a man's honor not to be refused than a woman's right to control her own actions.

So Your Life is not all a fun adventure -- Edi is a loose cannon, called "stupid" by other characters and certainly very sensation-seeking and risk-taking, and their other friends, fellow travelers, and would-be lovers are as bad or worse in their own ways -- and Lust finds herself an object and in serious danger, in ways she doesn't even realize at the time. She does get out, of course -- the existence of this book proves it -- but not unscarred, and not the same as the girl who left.

The back cover tries to sell this as "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll" -- and all of that certainly is part of Lust's journey -- but Your Life is deeper and more serious than that. Lust tells her own story, but what makes Your Life resonant is what it says about men and women -- about predatory men and the women they victimize -- and that's what will stick with the reader afterward. Lust isn't grinding any axes here: she just tells her story, and shows exactly what those men were like, and leaves her readers to realize for themselves how wrong that world is.

Mouse Under Glass by David Koenig

David Koenig has a steady day-job in the boring world of business publishing -- I'm not knocking it; so do I -- and a thriving hobby/second job writing books about various aspects of the multifarious companies of Disney. He started out with Mouse Tales, a very entertaining look at the behind-the-scenes stories of Disneyland, followed that up with More Mouse Tales (which I still haven't read), and then took on the Orlando outpost of the mouse in Realityland. In between, he wrote Mouse Under Glass, which takes a similar approach to the classic Disney animated movies.

Glass was published in 1997, which informs the arc of its story: Disney started strong, foundered after Walt's death (and meandered more than bit even before that) and found renewed energy and life starting with Little Mermaid and peaking with Lion King. There's not a whisper of Pixar, or of the rise of CGI animation, since that was just starting to happen as Koenig wrote this. Disney's relationship with Studio Ghibli also began just after this book was published, though it probably would have been out of Koenig's scope anyway: Disney just acted as a translator and distributor for those movies (as wonderful as they are).

Glass devotes a chapter to each of the main Disney animated films from Snow White to Hunchback, omitting the jukebox movies of the war years and just after (Saludos Amigos, Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time) and the assemblages (Ichabod & Mr. Toad, Winnie the Pooh) but including a clutch of partially animated movies (Song of the South, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pete's Dragon, Roger Rabbit). Koenig also drops Black Cauldron almost entirely, mentioning it in an introductory section but not giving it a chapter. Also omitted are odder early-'90s things like DuckTales: The Movie, A Goofy Movie, The Brave Little Toaster, A Nightmare Before Christmas, and James and the Giant Peach, possibly because they were odd, they came out of different Disney divisions, or they'd mess up the story Koenig wanted to tell.

What's left is pretty much the conventional wisdom on Disney as of 1997 -- Koenig has a lot of strengths, particularly as a reporter and researcher, but challenging conventional wisdom has never been one of them -- and Koenig lays out the case for it well in his introductions. Luckily, the chapters have more depth to them, running through the source material for each movie, an account of how Disney changed that into the final movie story (including details of dropped scenes and ideas), and then trivia around bloopers, other problems, hidden images, public reactions, and how those movies turned into theme-park rides.

Glass is out of date now, but it's a solid look at the movies it does cover, with a lot of interesting details for Hollywood-history buffs or Disney fans. But I'd recommend Koenig's theme-park books first or more highly; there are plenty of books about movies, but Koenig is one of the few who applied serious journalistic skills to the behind-the-scenes world of the Disney parks.

You by Austin Grossman

Grossman's first novel was Soon I Will Be Invincible (see my old ComicMix review), one of the best superhero novels I've seen (up there with Miracle Monday, actually), though the villain half of that book was stronger than the relatively conventional hero half. Six years later, he came back with this second novel, one similarly grounded in geek culture but set in the real world and featuring naturalistic characters leading basically ordinary lives.

You is a oh-god-we're-getting-older novel set in the world of videogames, circa 1997, with a cast mostly just hitting thirty at that point -- pointedly, all about Grossman's age (and close to mine, as well), and the timeline particularly focuses the sense of aging. (Since we all thought we were getting old then, when we turned thirty, but we had no idea what we were in for. And the fifty-, sixty-, and seventy-somethings are smiling wryly at us, thinking we still don't know.)

You is as conventional in its own way as Invincible was: the core characters were a group of teen-age nerds in the mid-80s, who met and started making videogames together in school. There's the brilliant short guy who has no social skills: Simon. And the Jobs-ian glad-hander who's not quite as good at coding but knows all about people: Darren. And the Ally-Sheedy-in-Breakfast-Club token female and obligatory Asperger's case: Lisa.

And, finally, Russell, our first person narrator. He was part of the circle in high school, contributed slightly to the first couple of games before they left school and went pro, but then spent the ten years in between pursuing a series of failed careers: lawyer, writer, this, that, the other. He's finally back in town (just outside Boston), and gets a job at Black Arts Games as the novel opens.

With that set-up, the expectation is that the novel will explore some buried secrets among the four old friends [1], but Grossman isn't interested in that: Simon died four years before (in a dramatically offhand way that feels important for the whole novel, but never leads anywhere), and Darren splits from Black Arts almost as soon as Russell arrives. You quickly turns into Russell's journey through, and into Grossman's love letter to the progress of, videogames from the early '80s to the late '90s -- most of the book is Russell digging through notes and documentation, and playing through all of Black Arts's catalog, to get up to speed on the new job that he's totally unqualified for.

So Russell plays through all of the games -- a series of fantasy adventure, SF adventure, and spy adventure stories with interlinked characters and stories, and a single underlying engine -- while Grossman gets to philosophize about what gaming is and why we like it. You doesn't have a lot of the usual strengths of a novel: the characterizations are thin, the overall plot is simple and linear, and there's little attention given to the world or larger philosophical points.

But, if you've spent any substantial time over the last three decades playing games -- and, if you're around my age, it would be hard not to -- You will be a thoughtful, engrossing look at why we've spent so much time poking buttons and typing "search all" and manipulating controllers and squinting at various screens deep into the night. And Grossman does have an organizing conceit that required You to be fictional -- the games that Black Arts created are not simply other people's famous games thinly disguised -- so there's a clear reason why he didn't just write nonfictionally about the real games of that era.

(Though I do have to admit that I miss Doctor Impossible, and want to see Grossman get back to a voice like that -- strong, self-aware, larger-than-life, driving to do huge things or fail spectacularly in the attempt.)

[1] If you want to read that novel, the best example that comes to mind right now is Walter Jon Williams's This Is Not a Game.

Three Books Going Back to the Library Later Today: An Apology or Explanation

This month, I've found even deeper levels of sloth and book-avoidance -- I may get a post out of what I've been doing instead, but see above about "sloth" before getting your hopes up -- and have read almost nothing. But I do have three books that I've read over the last month or two, and all of them should go back to the library this afternoon. So they'll get less attention than they deserve, but maybe one of them will sound interesting to some of you.

Each one will get its own post, as the day goes on -- I think I'll try to space them a bit, just because.

Watch this space for more.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/14

Even when other blogging slows (or essentially stops), I keep posting these weekly: listing whatever came in the prior week, sent by hard-working publicists just trying to get some eyeballs and enthusiasm for the books they're pushing that month. Some weeks I have a lot, some weeks I have just a handful.

This week I have one book. (And, still, the general rule applies: I haven't read it yet.)

Pyr has the highest proportion of books I really want to read of any publisher I can think of, probably because Pyr's head, Lou Anders, is one of the few people in the world who loves sword & sorcery more than I do. And if I only got one book this week, I'm really happy to see that it's a new S&S novel from Pyr -- and, even better, that it's from a writer I'm not familiar with.

The Scroll of Years is the first novel by Chris Willrich, who's been selling short fiction (mostly to Magazine of F&SF) for nearly two decades. And it definitely is S&S, being the first novel about the partners (in most of the sense of the word that just sprung to your mind) Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone, a poet/adventurer and near-immortal thief traveling across what looks like an interestingly varied world.

Pyr is publishing this in trade paper on September 24th. I can't promise I'll manage to read it soon, but I want to have already read it, and I'm thrilled to see it. Perhaps you will feel the same.