It’s time for yet another edition of the Haul of Books! I’ll have one more edition after this (and more in the future). I’m still playing catch-up. The last few weeks have been busy busy with school and teaching American Lit (and lots and lots of science fiction), so the pages on this blog have been relatively quiet. But no more! I’ve got two weeks off, lots of books to talk about, and lots of rants to assault your eyes with.
Bricks by Leon Jenner (Hodder and Stoughton)
This is the story of a bricklayer. A master of his craft, he keeps its sacred teachings secret. For him a house is the dwelling place of a soul, and a house must be built in the right spirit or the soul inside it will suffer. The building of an arch is a ritual to obtain a right relation with the earth and a connection with the truth. The bricklayer also recalls his previous life as a Druid priest. He talks about the creation of the sacred landscape of these islands; how even a simple stick lying on the ground would tell people the direction they needed to go in; how when people stared at the stars, they were staring at their own mind. This Druid was also a builder of worlds, one of a group of higher beings able to move in an infinite number of universes that create and end constantly. These higher beings are eternal, know everything, and hold everything together. The speak mind to mind. They can prevent battles simply by walking between the two charging armies. The reader sees the world through the eyes of this great, magical being at the time of the Roman invasion, and learns how he tricked Julius Caesar and set in train the series of events that would lead to Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March. But as the bricklayer continues, he worries he is losing his ancient, sacred powers. The vision begins to fray at the edges as we learn how he has recently taken violent revenge on yobs who have mocked him. Is he really connected to a once living Druid priest, or is he gradually losing himself in his own fantasies?
The Unincorporated Woman by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin (Tor)
There’s a civil war in space and the unincorporated woman is enlisted! The epic continues.
The award-winning saga of a revolutionary future takes a new turn. Justin Cord, the unincorporated man, is dead, betrayed, and his legacy of rebellion and individual freedom is in danger. General Black is the great hope of the military, but she cannot wage war from behind the President’s desk. So there must be a new president, anointed by Black, to hold the desk job, and who better than the only woman resurrected from Justin Cord’s past era, the scientist who created his resurrection device, the only born unincorporated woman. The perfect figurehead. Except that she has ideas of her own, and secrets of her own, and the talent to run the government her way. She is a force that no one anticipated, and no one can control.
The first novel in this thought-provoking series, The Unincorporated Man, won the 2009 Prometheus Award for best novel.
Future Media edited by Rick Wilber (Tachyon)
This startling exploration of the mass media age uniquely combines complex nonfiction and prescient fiction from the best and brightest visionaries of the future. Essay contributors include Marshall McLuhan, who posited that the medium is the message; Cory Doctorow and his re-visioning of intellectual property in the digital age; and Nicolas Carr, whose cautionary warnings include that Google is making us stupid. The thought-provoking short stories are authored by science fiction luminaries including James Tiptree Jr., whose pseudonymous cyperpunk preceded all of her peers; Joe Haldeman and his wars where humans fight through cloning and time travel; and Norman Spinrad, who has pitted the media against an immortality conspiracy. Offering a blend of predictions for the course of communications, Future Media entertains while it informs and challenges readers to consider the implications for a society dealing with networks that are alternately personal, public, pervasive, and powerful.
The Moon Maze Game by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (Tor)
The Year: 2085. Humanity has spread throughout the solar system. A stable lunar colony is agitating for independence. Lunar tourism is on the rise…
Against this background, professional “Close Protection” specialist Scotty Griffin, fresh off a disastrous assignment, is offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to shepherd the teenaged heir to the Republic of Kikaya on a fabulous vacation. Ali Kikaya will participate in the first live action role playing game conducted on the Moon itself. Having left Luna–and a treasured marriage–years ago due to a near-tragic accident, Scotty leaps at the opportunity.
Live Action Role Playing attracts a very special sort of individual: brilliant, unpredictable, resourceful, and addicted to problem solving. By kidnapping a dozen gamers in the middle of the ultimate game, watched by more people than any other sporting event in history, they have thrown down an irresistible gauntlet: to “win” the first game that ever became “real.” Pursued by armed and murderous terrorists, forced to solve gaming puzzles to stay a jump ahead, forced to juggle multiple psychological realities as they do…this is the game for which they’ve prepared their entire lives, and they are going to play it for all it’s worth.
Low Town by Daniel Polansky (Doubleday)(two copies, actually)
Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops . . . and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town.
In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its champion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens.
The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his discovery of a murdered child down a dead-end street . . . setting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn’t get investigated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psychotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines. In Low Town, no one can be trusted.
Daniel Polansky has crafted a thrilling novel steeped in noir sensibilities and relentless action, and set in an original world of stunning imagination, leading to a gut-wrenching, unforeseeable conclusion. Low Town is an attention-grabbing debut that will leave readers riveted . . . and hungry for more.
The First Days by Rhiannon Frater (Tor)
Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy is an internet sensation. The first two books, The First Days and Fighting to Survive, have won the Dead Letter Award for Best Novel from Mail Order Zombie. The First Days was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner. AmericanHorrorBlog calls Rhiannon Frater “a writer to watch.”
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.
They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form.
Fast-paced and exciting, filled with characters who grab your heart, The First Days: As the World Dies is the beginning of a frightening trilogy.
Gateways edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull (Tor)
An anthology of new, original award-caliber stories by bestselling SF authors inspired by SF great Frederik Pohl
It isn’t easy to get a group of bestselling SF authors to write new stories for an anthology, but that’s what Elizabeth Anne Hull has done in this powerhouse book. With original, captivating tales by Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Ben Bova, David Brin, Cory Doctorow, Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, Larry Niven, Vernor Vinge, Gene Wolfe, and others, and a poem by Neil Gaiman, Gateways is a science fiction event that will be a must-buy for science fiction readers of all tastes, from the traditional to the cutting-edge; from the darkly serious to the laugh-out-loud funny.
These authors have two things in common. They all have enviable careers; and they all respect and admire Frederik Pohl.
In a career dating back to 1939, Pohl has won all the awards science fiction has to offer: Hugos, Nebulas, the SFWA Grand Master Award. Having written more than two million words of fiction and edited the groundbreaking Star anthologies and Hugo Award–winning magazines and books, Pohl is an SF icon. This anthology is a treasure of brilliant, entertaining SF stories, and a tribute to Pohl’s stature in the field.
Vampire Empire — Book One: The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith (Pyr)
In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya.
It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming.
Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is The Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.
The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire is the first book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternate history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, The Greyfriar brings epic political themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.
Academic journals don’t come with back cover blurbs, so I’ll have to describe these based on the table of contents:
Science Fiction Studies #114 (Vol. 38, Part 2; July 2011)
This issue contains an essay by Brian Aldiss on metaphysical realism, articles on artificial slavery, 19th century Spanish science fiction, the work of George Schuyler (and others), and the electric synthesizer in mid-20th century SF. There are also a number of review essays and book reviews on all manner of interest books on H. G. Wells, utopia, and much more. I love SF Studies. So many cool things in its pages…
Extrapolation (Spring 2011, Vol. 52, No. 1)
This issue contains essays on Greg Egan’s books, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (and Del Toro’s Laberinto), Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Stepford Wives, and Bacigalupi’s “The People of Sand and Slag.” They range in topic from looking at gender and sexuality to escapism to technoscientific imagination, and materiality.
And there’s more where those came from. No joke.
What do you think? Do any of these interest you? If so, let me know!