Haul of Books 2012: Books Received Vol. 1 (Post-Christmas Edition)

Everything you see below are books (and a movie) I got over Christmas, whether as presents or through spending my Christmas money.  Needless to say, I bought a lot of stuff.

Before you check out the books, though, I've got a few questions:
  1. What did you get for Christmas (or your particular winter holiday)?
  2. Which of the following books sound interesting to you?
Feel free to leave a comment with your answers.

Here goes (warning:  there's a lot of stuff in this post):
Mendoza in Hollywood by Kage Baker (Eos)
This is the third novel in what has become one of the most popular series in contemporary SF, now back in print from Tor. In the 24th century, the Company preserves works of art and extinct forms of life, for profit, of course. It recruits orphans from the past, renders them all but immortal, and trains them to serve the Company, Dr. Zeus. One of these is Mendoza the botanist. The death of her lover has been followed by centuries of heartbreak. She spends a period of time in early twentieth century Hollywood in the days of D.W. Griffith, and then Mendoza is in the midst of the Civil War, and runs into a man that looks disturbingly similar to her lost love. She is about to find love again, and be in more trouble than she could ever have imagined.
Synecdoche, New York directed by Charlie Kaufman (Sony Pictures Classics)
From Charlie Kaufman, comes a visual and philosophic adventure, Synechdoche, New York. As he did with his groundbreaking scripts for Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaufman twists and subverts form and language as he delves into the mind of a man who, obsessed with his own mortality, sets out to construct a massive artistic enterprise that could give some meaning to his life. Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater in Schenectady, New York is looking bleak. His wife Adele (Catherine Keener) has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive with her. His therapist, Madeleine Gravis (Hope Davis), is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel (Samantha Morton) has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. Worried about the transience of his life, he leaves his home behind. He gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in New York City, hoping to create a work of brutal honesty. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mockup of the city outside. The years rapidly fold into each other, and Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece, but the textured tangle of real and theatrical relationships blurs the line between the world of the play and that of Caden's own deteriorating reality. 
Slow River by Nicola Griffith (Del Rey)
She awoke in an alley to the splash of rain. She was naked, a foot-long gash in her back was still bleeding, and her identity implant was gone. Lore Van Oesterling had been the daughter of one of the world's most powerful families...and now she was nobody, and she had to hide. 
Then out of the rain walked Spanner, predator and thief, who took her in, cared for her wound, and taught her how to reinvent herself again and again. No one could find Lore now: not the police, not her family, and not the kidnappers who had left her in that alley to die. She had escaped...but the cost of her newfound freedom was crime and deception, and she paid it over and over again, until she had become someone she loathed. 
Lore had a choice: She could stay in the shadows, stay with Spanner...and risk losing herself forever. Or she could leave Spanner and find herself again by becoming someone else: stealing the identity implant of a dead woman, taking over her life, and creating a new future. 
But to start again, Lore required Spanner's talents--Spanner, who needed her and hated her, and who always had a price. And even as Lore agreed to play Spanner's game one final time, she found that there was still the price of being a Van Oesterling to be paid. Only by confronting her family, her past, and her own demons could Lore meld together who she had once been, who she had become, and the person she intended to be... 
A Practical Guide to Racism by C. H. Dalton (Gotham Books)
A look at the races of the world by a lovable bigot, capturing the proud history and bright future of racism in one handy, authoritative, and deeply offensive volume! 
Meet “C. H. Dalton,” a professor of racialist studies and an expert on inferior people of all ethnicities, genders, religions, and sexual preferences. Presenting evidence that everyone should be hated, A Practical Guide to Racism contains sparkling bits of wisdom on such subjects as: 
The good life enjoyed by blacks, who shuffle through life unhindered by the white man’s burdens, to become accomplished athletes, rhyme smiths, and dominoes champions 
The sad story of the industrious, intelligent Jews, whose entire reputation is sullied by their taste for the blood of Christian babies
A close look at the bizarre, sweet-smelling race known as “women,” who are not very good at anything—especially ruling the free world 
A crucial manual to Arabs, a people so sensitive they are liable to blow up at any time. Literally. 
Including a comprehensive glossary of timeless epithets, with hundreds of pejorative words for everyone from Phoenicians to Jews, A Practical Guide to Racism is an essential field guide for our multicultural world. 
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead Books)
After more than 189 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list for The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today. 
Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love. 
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival. 
A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love .
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor Books)
In the life of Precious Ramotswe–a woman duly proud of her fine traditional build–there is rarely a dull moment, and in the latest installment in the universally beloved No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series there is much happening on Zebra Drive and Tlokweng Road. Mma Ramotswe is experiencing staffing difficulties. First Mr. J.L.B. Mate-koni asks to be put in charge of a case involving an errant husband. But can a man investigate such matters as successfully as the number one lady detective can? Then she has a minor falling-out with her assistant, Mma Makutsi, who decides to leave the agency, taking the 97 percent she received on her typing final from the Botswana Secretarial College with her.
Along the way, Mma Ramotswe is asked to investigate a couple of tricky cases. Will she be able to explain an unexpected series of deaths at the hospital in Mochudi? And what about the missing office supplies at a local printing company? These are the types of questions that she is uniquely well suited to answer.
In the end, whatever happens, Mma Ramotswe knows she can count on Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, who stands for all that is solid and true in a shifting world. And there is always her love for Botswana, a country of which she is justifiably proud.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Perennial Classics)
One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published -- perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage)
Now a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Matt Damon, produced by Mike Nichols, and directed by Billy Bob Thornton.
The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.
The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks (Night Shade Books)
It is 4034 AD. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year. The Nasqueron Dwellers inhabit a gas giant on the outskirts of the galaxy, in a system awaiting its wormhole connection to the rest of civilization. In the meantime, they are dismissed as decadents living in a state of highly developed barbarism, hoarding data without order, hunting their own young and fighting pointless formal wars. Seconded to a military-religious order he's barely heard of - part of the baroque hierarchy of the Mercatoria, the latest galactic hegemony - Fassin Taak has to travel again amongst the Dwellers. He is in search of a secret hidden for half a billion years. But with each day that passes a war draws closer - a war that threatens to overwhelm everything and everyone he's ever known.
Man Faces Extra-Terrestrial Life in Contact edited by Noel Keyes (Paperback Library)
We may not longer be alone in the universe -- perhaps we never have been... 
The ultimate possibility -- that life exists beyond Earth -- is no longer a fantasy but the subject of scientific experimentation.  Humans and extra-terrestrials beings may be making contact today -- certainly tomorrow. 
The first, explosive, grappling instant encounter between Man and Alien is the subject of this extraodrinary journey of man's imagination into the unknown, by the masters of Science Fiction:  Ray Bradbury, Harry Walton, Robert Sheckley, Murray Leinster, Ian Williamson, Howard Koch, Fredric Brown, Fritz Leiber, Peter Philips, Howard Fast, Clifford D. Simak, and Isaac Asimov.
The Jewels of Aptor by Samuel R. Delany (Ace)
One of the most universally acclaimed first novels in science fiction--by the man who become one of the most stellar writers in the genre's history. On the orders of Argo, the White Goddess, an itinerant poet and his three companions journey to the island of Aptor. Their mission: to seize a jewel from the dark god Hama and bring it back home. With this precious stone Argo may defeat the malign forces gathered against her and the land of Leptor. But, as the group presses deep into the enigmatic heart of Aptor, easy distinctions between good and evil blur, and somehow the task seems less straightforward. For Argo already owns two of the jewels, and possession of the third would give her unqualified power.
And, as the four friends already know, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski (Pantheon)
Sam: They were with us before Romeo & Juliet. And long after too. Because they’re forever around. Or so both claim, carolling gleefully: We’re allways sixteen. Sam & Hailey, powered by an ever-rotating fleet of cars, from Model T to Lincoln Continental, career from the Civil War to the Cold War, barrelling down through the Appalachians, up the Mississippi River, across the Badlands, finally cutting a nation in half as they try to outrace History itself. By turns beguiling and gripping, finally worldwrecking, Only Revolutions is unlike anything ever published before, a remarkable feat of heart and intellect, moving us with the journey of two kids, perpetually of summer, perpetually sixteen, who give up everything except each other.
Hailey: They were with us before Tristan & Isolde. And long after too. Because they’re forever around. Or so both claim, gleefully carolling: We’re allways sixteen. Hailey & Sam, powered by an ever-rotating fleet of cars, from Shelby Mustang to Sumover Linx, careen from the Civil Rights Movement to the Iraq War, tearing down to New Orleans, up the Mississippi River, across Montana, finally cutting a nation in half as they try to outrace History itself. By turns enticing and exhilarating, finally breathtaking, Only Revolutions is unlike anything ever conceived before, a remarkable feat of heart and intellect, moving us with the journey of two kids, perpetually of summer, perpetually sixteen, who give up everything except each other.
Alone Against Tomorrow by Harlan Ellison (MacMillan)
Third printing (1976) paperback. This is a 1971 collection of stories from this winner of more awards for imaginative literature than any other living author - including multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars. CONTENTS: Introduction: The Song of the Soul (1970); I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1967); The Discarded (1959); Deeper Than the Darkness (1957); Blind Lightning (1956); All the Sounds of Fear (1962); The Silver Corridor (1956); "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman (1965); Bright Eyes (1965); Are You Listening? (1958); Try a Dull Knife (1968); In Lonely Lands (1959); Eyes of Dust (1959); Nothing for My Noon Meal (1958); O Ye of Little Faith (1968); The Time of the Eye (1959); Life Hutch (1956); The Very Last Day of a Good Woman (1958); Night Vigil (1957); Lonelyache (1964); Pennies, Off a Dead Man's Eyes (1969).
Viewpoints Critical by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (Tor)
This is the first story collection ever from bestselling fantasy and science fiction writer L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Modesitt began publishing short fiction in the SF magazines in the 1970s, and this collection includes a selection of stories from the whole of his career. Some of the early stories are kernels for his early SF novels, others display the wide range of his talents and interests, from satire to military adventure.
This book also contains three new stories that have never been published before: “Black Ordermage,” set in Modesitt’s bestselling Recluce series; “Beyond the Obvious Wind,” set in his Corean Chronicles universe; and “Always Outside the Lines,” which is related to the Ghost of Columbia books. Viewpoints Critical is an excellent introduction to the work of one of the major SF and fantasy writers publishing today.
Book of Secrets by Chris Roberson (Angry Robot Books)
IT'LL TAKE MORE THAN ANGELS AND DEMONS TO STOP HIM.
Reporter Spencer Finch is a journalist embroiled in the hunt for a missing book, encountering along the way cat burglars and mobsters, hackers and mysterious monks. At the same time, he's trying to make sense of the legacy left him by his late grandfather, a chest of what appear to be pulp magazines from the golden age of fantasy fiction. Following his nose, Finch gradually uncovers a mystery involving a lost Greek play, secret societies, generations of masked vigilantes - and an entire hidden history of mankind. It's like The Da Vinci Code retold by the Coen brothers in this blockbuster blur.
The World House by Guy Adams (Angry Robot Books)
Combining the puzzle box of Hellraiser with the explorartion of Tad Williams' Otherland series, this is the perfect blend of fantasy and adventure, an exceptional modern fantasy debut.
THERE IS A BOX. INSIDE THAT BOX IS A DOOR. AND BEYOND THAT DOOR IS A WHOLE WORLD.
In some rooms, forests grow. In others, animals and objects come to life. Elsewhere, secrets and treasures wait for the brave and foolhardy.
And at the very top of the house, a prisoner sits behind a locked door waiting for a key to turn. The day that happens, the world will end...
Reality 36 by Guy Haley (Angry Robot Books)
SOMETHING IS AMISS IN THE RENEGADE DIGITAL REALM OF REALITY 36. Richards - a Level 5 AI with a PI fetish - and his partner, a decommissioned German military cyborg, are on the trail of a murderer, but the killer has hidden inside an artificial reality. Richards and Klein must stop him before he becomes a god - for the good of all the realms.
The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar (Angry Robot Books)
LATE EXTRA! BOMB OUTRAGE IN LONDON!
A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees -- there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack.
For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? His quest to uncover the truth takes him from the hidden catacombs of London on the brink of revolution, through pirate-infested seas, to the mysterious island that may hold the secret to the origin not only of the shadowy Bookman, but of Orphan himself...
Like a steam-powered take on V for Vendetta, rich with satire and slashed through with automatons, giant lizards, pirates, airships and wild adventure. The Bookman is the first of a series.
City of Dreams and Nightmare by Ian Whates (Angry Robot Books)
THEY CALL IT "THE CITY OF A HUNDRED ROWS".
City of Dreams & Nightmare is the first in a series of novels set in one of the most extraordinary fantasy settings since Gormenghast - the ancient vertical city of Thaiburley. From its towering palatial heights to the dregs who dwell in The City Below, this is a vast, multi-tiered metropolis, and demons are said to dwell in the Upper Heights...
Having witnessed a murder in a part of the city he should never have been in, street thief Tom has to run for his life. Down through the vast city he is pursued by sky-borne assassins, sinister Kite Guards, and agents of a darker force intent on destabilising the whole city. Accused of the crime, he must use all of his knowledge of this ancient city to flee a certain death; his only ally is Kat, a renegade like him, but she has secrets of her own...
Embedded by Dan Abnett (Angry Robot Books)
HE'D DO ANYTHING TO GET A STORY. When journalist Lex Falk gets himself chipped into the brain of a combat soldier, he thinks he has the ultimate scoop - a report from the forbidden front line of a distant planetary war, live to the living rooms of Earth. When the soldier is killed, however, Lex has to take over the body and somehow get himself back to safety once more... broadcasting all the way.
Heart-stopping combat science fiction from the million-selling Warhammer 40,000 author.
Nemesis Worm by Guy Haley (Angry Robot Books)
A standalone novella featuring the 22nd century's greatest detectives, The Nemesis Worm sees Richards & Klein involved in another high stakes investigation. Corpses are showing up all over Old London, and the finger of suspicion points right at Richards himself. Forced to clear his name, Richards and Otto uncover a fanatical group whose actions threaten the relationship between human and AI with destruction.
Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (Orbit)
For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city's most accomplished artist.
For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly - and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.
But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics - and cultivate a flair for death.
Child of Fire by Harry Connolly (Random House)
Ray Lilly is living on borrowed time. He's the driver for Annalise Powliss, a high-ranking member of the Twenty Palace Society, a group of sorcerers devoted to hunting down and executing rogue magicians. But because Ray betrayed her once, Annalise is looking for an excuse to kill him-or let someone else do the job.
Unfortunately for both of them, Annalise's next mission goes wrong, leaving her critically injured. With the little magic he controls, Ray must complete her assignment alone. Not only does he have to stop a sorcerer who's sacrificing dozens of innocent lives in exchange for supernatural power, he must find-and destroy-the source of that inhuman magic.
Child of Fire was named to Publishers Weekly's list of Best 100 Books of 2009.
Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb (HarperCollins)
Nevare Burvelle was destined from birth to be a soldier. The second son of a newly anointed nobleman, he must endure the rigors of military training at the elite King's Cavella Academy—and survive the hatred, cruelty, and derision of his aristocratic classmates—before joining the King of Gernia's brutal campaign of territorial expansion. The life chosen for him will be fraught with hardship, for he must ultimately face a forest-dwelling folk who will not submit easily to a king's tyranny. And they possess an ancient magic their would-be conquerors have long discounted—a powerful sorcery that threatens to claim Nevare Burvelle's soul and devastate his world once the Dark Evening brings the carnival to Old Thares.
Rides a Dread Legion by Raymond E. Feist (HarperCollins)

The remnants of the Clan of the Seven Stars are returning to their long abandoned homeworld . . . but not as friends. The elves, led by the conjurer Laromendis, flee the relentless demon hordes sweeping through their galaxy—and the conquest of war-weary Midkemia is the Clan's sole hope for survival . . . if the Dread Legion does not pursue them through the rift.
The magician Pug knows what horrors will surely follow the elven invasion, for slaughter alone will sate Demon King Maarg's minions. For the death tide to be turned, Midkemia's constant defender must somehow unite bitter foes and vengeful former lovers—because failure to do so will mean annihilation.
Den of Thieves by David Chandler (HarperCollins)
Born and raised in the squalid depths of the Free City of Ness, Malden became a thief by necessity. Now he must pay a fortune to join the criminal operation of Cutbill, lord of the underworld—and one does not refuse the master . . . and live.
The coronet of the Burgrave would fulfill Malden’s obligations, though it is guarded by hungry demons that would tear the soul from any interloper. But the desperate endeavor leads to a more terrible destiny, as Malden, an outlaw knight, and an ensorcelled lady must face the most terrifying evil in the land.
Heir of Night by Helen Lowe (HarperCollins)
If Night falls, all fall . . .
In the far north of the world of Haarth lies the bitter mountain range known as the Wall of Night. Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the Wall is the final bastion between the peoples of Haarth and the Swarm of Dark—which the Derai have been fighting across worlds and time.
Malian, Heir to the House of Night, knows the history of her people: the unending war with the Darkswarm; the legendary heroes, blazing with long-lost power; the internal strife that has fractured the Derai's former strength. But now the Darkswarm is rising again, and Malian's destiny as Heir of Night is bound inextricably to both ancient legend and any future the Derai—or Haarth—may have.
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (HarperCollins)
Life sucks, then you die. Period.
Unless you're James Stark, a hitman in Hell for eleven years before escaping back up to Hell-on-earth L.A.—looking for revenge, absolution . . . love, maybe.
But Hell's not through with Stark.Heaven's not either.
Earth Strike by Ian Douglas (HarperCollins)
The first book in the epic saga of humankind's war of transcendence
There is a milestone in the evolution of every sentient race, a Tech Singularity Event, when the species achieves transcendence through its technological advances. Now the creatures known as humans are near this momentous turning point.
But an armed threat is approaching from deepest space, determined to prevent humankind from crossing over that boundary—by total annihilation if necessary.
To the Sh'daar, the driving technologies of transcendent change are anathema and must be obliterated from the universe—along with those who would employ them. As their great warships destroy everything in their path en route to the Sol system, the human Confederation government falls into dangerous disarray. There is but one hope, and it rests with a rogue Navy Admiral, commander of the kilometer-long star carrier America, as he leads his courageous fighters deep into enemy space towards humankind's greatest conflict—and quite possibly its last.
And there you go!  Phew...

Haul of Books 2012: Books Received Vol. 2

I haven't done one of these in a while, which means I'm really far behind on all the weird stuff that has arrived on my doorstep (for school, for review, for teaching, etc.).

So now you get to see the crazy stuff I've been looking at in the last few months.

Here goes:

In Theory:  Classes, Nations, Literatures by Aijaz Ahmad
After the Second World War, nationalism emerged as the principle expression of resistance to Western imperialism in a variety of regions from the Indian subcontinent to Africa, to parts of Latin America and the Pacific Rim. With the Bandung Conference and the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement, many of Europe's former colonies banded together to form a common bloc, aligned with neither the advanced capitalist “First World” nor with the socialist “Second World.” 
In this historical context, the category of “Third World literature” emerged, a category that has itself spawned a whole industry of scholarly and critical studies, particularly in the metropolitan West, but increasingly in the homelands of the Third World itself. 
Setting himself against the growing tendency to homogenize “Third World” literature and cultures, Aijaz Ahmad has produced a spirited critique of the major theoretical statements on “colonial discourse” and “post-colonialism,” dismantling many of the commonplaces and conceits that dominate contemporary cultural criticism. With lengthy considerations of, among others, Fredric Jameson, Edward Said, and the Subaltern Studies group, In Theory also contains brilliant analyses of the concept of Indian literature, of the genealogy of the term “Third World,” and of the conditions under which so-called “colonial discourse theory” emerged in metropolitan intellectual circles. 
Erudite and lucid, Ahmad's remapping of the terrain of cultural theory is certain to provioke passionate response.
Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
Karen Lord's debut novel, which won the prestigious Frank Collymore Literary Prize in Barbados, is an intricately woven tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit. 
Paama's husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents' home in the village of Makendha, now he's disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones--the djombi--who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone. 
Bursting with humor and rich in fantastic detail, Redemption in Indigo is a clever, contemporary fairy tale that introduces readers to a dynamic new voice in Caribbean literature. Lord's world of spider tricksters and indigo immortals, inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale, will feel instantly familiar--but Paama's adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original.
Africa First:  Volume One by Various
From Focus Features, the premiere global brand in original and daring cinema, comes FOCUS WORLD. Charged with finding the most exciting new voices in international and independent film, Focus World is proud to bring you AFRICA FIRST: VOLUME ONE, the first in a series of short film collections from some of Africa's most compelling new talent. Focus' Africa First program is an initiative designed exclusively for filmmakers of African nationality and residence, and presents annual awards to the best and brightest from around the continent. After touring film festivals around the world, these Africa First short films are now available for audiences everywhere: Dyana Gaye's "St. Louis Blues," an invigorating traveling musical; Jenna Bass' "The Tunnel," a moving story of a young girl in search of her father; Jan-Hendrik Beetge's "The Abyss Boys," a coming-of-age tale amidst rampant corruption and gang violence; and Wanuri Kahiu's "Pumzi," a startling vision of the future.
The New Bloomsday Book:  A Guide Through Ulysses (3rd Edition) by Harry Blamires
This is a highly accessible, indispensable guide for anyone reading Joyce's masterpiece for the first time. A crystal clear, page-by-page, line-by-line running commentary on the plot of Ulysses.
Dead Head by Rosemary Harris
The talented Rosemary Harris continues to pick up steam, garner acclaim, and collect fans with her quirky, beloved Dirty Business Mystery series Fugitive Mom. That’s the tabloid headline that rocks Springfield, Connecticut when one of the town’s favorite ladies is discovered to be an escaped convict. With a little help from the always game Lucy Cavanaugh, Paula is hired to find out which of her neighbors is a fugitive from the law and why the long-kept secret has finally come out.
Dubliners by James Joyce (Norton Critical Edition)
Dubliners is arguably the best-known and most influential collection of short stories written in English, and has been since its publication in 1914. 
Through what Joyce described as their "style of scrupulous meanness," the stories present a direct, sometimes searing view of Dublin in the early twentieth century. The text of this Norton Critical Edition is based on renowned Joyce scholar Hans Walter Gabler’s edited text and includes his editorial notes and the introduction to his scholarly edition, which details and discusses Dubliners’ complicated publication history. "Contexts" offers a rich collection of materials that bring the stories and the Irish capital to life for twenty-first century readers, including photographs, newspaper articles and advertising, early versions of two of the stories, and a satirical poem by Joyce about his publication woes. "Criticism" brings together eight illuminating essays on the most frequently taught stories in Dubliners—"Araby," "Eveline," "After the Race," "The Boarding House," "Counterpoints," "A Painful Case," and "The Dead." Contributors include David G. Wright, Heyward Ehrlich, Margot Norris, James Fairhall, Fritz Senn, Morris Beja, Roberta Jackson, and Vincent J. Cheng. 8 maps; 20 illustrations
The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming
A full-color graphic memoir inspired by the award-winning documentary-and the life and mystery of China's greatest magician. 
Who was Long Tack Sam? 
He was born in 1885. He ran away from Shangdung Province to join the circus. He was an acrobat. A magician. A comic. An impresario. A restaurateur. A theater owner. A world traveler. An East-West ambassador. A mentor to Orson Welles. He was considered the greatest act in the history of vaudeville. 
In this gorgeous graphic memoir, his great-granddaughter, the artist and filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming, resurrects his fascinating life for the rest of the world. It's an exhilarating testament to a forgotten man. And every picture is true.
The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess
Set in the near future, The Wanting Seed is a Malthusian comedy about the strange world overpopulation will produce. 
Tristram Foxe and his wife, Beatrice-Joanna, live in their skyscraper world where official family limitation glorifies homosexuality. Eventually, their world is transformed into a chaos of cannibalistic dining-clubs, fantastic fertility rituals, and wars without anger. It is a novel both extravagantly funny and grimly serious.
Futures From Nature edited by Henry Gee
Are aliens really not interested in us at all? Is there a significant health benefit from drinking your own urine? Is loading your personality into a computer the best way to survive the death of the body? Is the death of the body really necessary? Here are a very large number of very small fictions on the subject of the future and what it might be like. The authors include scientists, journalists, and many of the most famous SF writers in the world. 
Futures from Nature includes everything from satires and vignettes to compressed stories and fictional book reviews, science articles, and journalism, in eight-hundred-word modules. All of them are entertaining and as a group they are a startling repository of ideas and attitudes about the future. These pieces were originally published in the great science journal Nature between 1999 and 2006, as one-page features that proved very popular with readers. This is a unique book, of interest to any reader who might like to speculate about the future.
The Exception to the Rulers:  Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them by Amy Goodman
No description on Amazon and I'm too lazy to copy it from the book.
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Any of these sound interesting to you?  And what have you received/bought/etc. lately?

Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 7

Another edition of things I've added to my collection.  Some of these are research selections, as I bought them around the same time when I was putting together a syllabus on postcolonial fiction.  As such, the books below are an eclectic bunch.

What I want to know is:
What have you purchased recently?
Which books below most interest you?
Here's the list:
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdey (Penguin)
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts. 
This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.
Galactic Cluster by James Blish (Signet)
Imagine...a galaxy of superworms bound together through telepathy...and a planet whose inhabitants consider the human brain to be a cancerous tumor! 
Imagine...an incredible journey to Alpha Centauri that takes ten months for a man's body--and 6,000 years for his mind! 
Imagine...the refugees of the ultimate germ war cowering beneath the crust of the planet.  To remian in hiding means mass psychosis--but to flee to the surface is certain death! 
James Blish has imagined all this...and has created from it a universe that is both fantastic and horrifyingly real.  Here is modern science fiction...by one of the acknowledged masters of our time!
The King's Rifle by Biyi Bandele (Amistad)
It's winter 1944 and the Second World War is entering its most crucial state. A few months ago fourteen-year-old Ali Banana was a blacksmith's apprentice in his rural hometown in West Africa; now he's trekking through the Burmese jungle. Led by the unforgettably charismatic Sergeant Damisa, the unit has been given orders to go behind enemy lines and wreak havoc. But Japanese snipers lurk behind every tree—and even if the unit manages to escape, infection and disease lie in wait. Homesick and weary, the men of D-Section Thunder Brigade refuse to give up. 
Taut and immediate, The King's Rifle is the first novel to depict the experiences of black African soldiers in the Second World War. This is a story of real life battles, of the men who made the legend of the Chindits, the unconventional, quick-strike division of the British Army in India. Brilliantly executed, this vividly realized account details the madness, sacrifice, and dark humor of that war's most vicious battleground. It is also the moving story of a boy trying to live long enough to become a man.
Was by Geoff Ryman (Penguin)
This haunting, wildly original novel explores the lives of several characters entwined by The Wizard of Oz--both the novel written by L. Frank Baum and the strangely resonant 1939 film. Was traverses the American landscape to reveal how the human imagination transcends the bleakest circumstance.
Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson (Vintage Contemporaries)(the image is from a different edition)
Hailed by the New York Times as "wildly ambitious" and "the sort of book that a young Herman Melville might have written had he lived today and studied such disparate works as the Bible, 'The Wasteland,' Fahrenheit 451, and Dog Soldiers, screened Star Wars and Apocalypse Now several times, dropped a lot of acid and listened to hours of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones," Fiskadoro is a stunning novel of an all-too-possible tomorrow. Deeply moving and provacative, Fiskadoro brilliantly presents the sweeping and heartbreaking tale of the survivors of a devastating nuclear war and their attempts to breaking tale of the survivors of a devastating nuclear war and their attempts to salvage remnants of the old world and rebuild their culture.
The End of the World News by Anthony Burgess (Penguin)
The dying Freud hustled out of Vienna into exile.  A Broadway musical on the subject of Trotsky in New York.  The last throes of the planet of Earth in AD 2000.  These are all items on The End of the World New. 
Psychoanalysis, international socialism and The End--three themes, three stories--outrageously counterpointed into trinity, in a novel stuffed with verbal pyrotechnics, amazing sleights of fantasy, and tantalizing jokes, and which is crowned by a brilliant, unexpected, out-of-this-world finale--all written by one novelist at the height of his powers.
Here Comes Another Lesson by Stephen O'Connor (Free Press)
STEPHEN O’CONNOR IS ONE OF TODAY’S MOST GIFTED AND ORIGINAL WRITERS. In Here Comes Another Lesson, O’Connor, whose stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Conjunctions, and many other places, fearlessly depicts a world that no longer quite makes sense. Ranging from the wildly inventive to the vividly realistic, these brilliant stories offer tender portraits of idealists who cannot live according to their own ideals and of lovers baffled by the realities of love. 
The story lines are unforgettable: A son is followed home from work by his dead father. God instructs a professor of atheism to disseminate updated Commandments. The Minotaur is awakened to his own humanity by the computer-game-playing "new girl" who has been brought to him for supper. A recently returned veteran longs for the utterly ordinary life he led as a husband and father before being sent to Iraq. An ornithologist, forewarned by a cormorant of the exact minute of his death, struggles to remain alert to beauty and joy. 
As playful as it is lyrical, Here Comes Another Lesson celebrates human hopefulness and laments a sane and gentle world that cannot exist.
Starship by Brian Aldiss (Signet)
They were humans--or so they believed--the grotesque result of a grandiose experiment which had gone appallingly awry. 
Trapped on a world that was hurtling through space at a fantastic speed, they sought the riddle of their heritage among the only companions they knew--ghosts, mutants, giants and regimented rats. 
This is one of the most extraordinary novels ever written, the spine-tingling story of lost beings who try to find themselves in a world gone made.
The Battle of Foreve by A. E. Van Vogt (Ace)
Humanity, true humanity, had reached its Utopian ideal in the select colony of the perfect thousand--isolated from the crude world around them which they had populated with pseudo-men created biologically from the various beast species.  The thousand men and women were free to dream, to philosophize, to enjoy the flowers of the mind--but not of the body. 
Then Modyun, the restless one, decided to visit the outer world and thereby precipitated the Battle of Forever.  For what he found were worlds within worlds, wheels within wheels, and a deus ex machina which hinted to outer-space origins. 
It's a new van Vogt universe-spanning epic, and it's gripping science fiction all the way!
When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (Warner Books)
A runaway planet hurtles toward the earth. As it draws near, massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions wrack our planet, devastating continents, drowning cities, and wiping out millions. In central North America, a team of scientists race to build a spacecraft powerful enough to escape the doomed earth. Their greatest threat, they soon discover, comes not from the skies but from other humans.  
A crackling plot and sizzling, cataclysmic vision have made When Worlds Collide one of the most popular and influential end-of-the-world novels of all time. This Bison Frontiers of Imagination edition features the original story and its sequel, After Worlds Collide. 

Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 6

It's been a while for a Haul of Books feature, which means it's time for catching up!  And that's what this post is all about.

What I want to know is:
What have you purchased recently?
Which books below most interest you?
Here's the list:
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Little, Brown)
Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.  
A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.  
Uwem Akpan’s debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Harcourt)
At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter . . . 
Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite valuation firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. 
But in the wake of september 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (Washington Square Press)
Award-winning screenwriter Malla Nunn delivers a stunning and darkly romantic crime novel set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper -- a man caught up in a time and place where racial tensions and the raw hunger for power make life very dangerous indeed. 
In a morally complex tale rich with authenticity, Nunn takes readers to Jacob's Rest, a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique. It is 1952, and new apartheid laws have recently gone into effect, dividing a nation into black and white while supposedly healing the political rifts between the Afrikaners and the English. Tensions simmer as the fault line between the oppressed and the oppressors cuts deeper, but it's not until an Afrikaner police officer is found dead that emotions more dangerous than anyone thought possible boil to the surface. 
When Detective Emmanuel Cooper, an Englishman, begins investigating the murder, his mission is preempted by the powerful police Security Branch, who are dedicated to their campaign to flush out black communist radicals. But Detective Cooper isn't interested in political expediency and has never been one for making friends. He may be modest, but he radiates intelligence and certainly won't be getting on his knees before those in power. Instead, he strikes out on his own, following a trail of clues that lead him to uncover a shocking forbidden love and the imperfect life of Captain Pretorius, a man whose relationships with the black and coloured residents of the town he ruled were more complicated and more human than anyone could have imagined. 
The first in her Detective Emmanuel Cooper series, A Beautiful Place to Die marks the debut of a talented writer who reads like a brilliant combination of Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene. It is a tale of murder, passion, corruption, and the corrosive double standard that defined an apartheid nation.
Modem Times 2.0 by Michael Moorcock (PM Press)
Jerry Cornelius—Michael Moorcock’s fictional audacious assassin, rockstar, chronospy, and possible Messiah—is featured in the first of two stories in this fifth installment of the Outspoken Author series. Previously unpublished, the first story is an odyssey through time from London in the 1960s to America during the years following Barack Obama's presidency. The second piece is a political, confrontational, comical, nonfiction tale in the style of Jonathan Swift and George Orwell. An interview with the author rounds out this biting, satirical, sci-fi collection.
44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus)
Welcome to 44 Scotland Street, home to some of Edinburgh's most colorful characters. There's Pat, a twenty-year-old who has recently moved into a flat with Bruce, an athletic young man with a keen awareness of his own appearance. Their neighbor, Domenica, is an eccentric and insightful widow. In the flat below are Irene and her appealing son Bertie, who is the victim of his mother’s desire for him to learn the saxophone and italian–all at the tender age of five. 
Love triangles, a lost painting, intriguing new friends, and an encounter with a famous Scottish crime writer are just a few of the ingredients that add to this delightful and witty portrait of Edinburgh society, which was first published as a serial in The Scotsman newspaper.
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Anchor Books)
Meet Mma Ramotswe, the endearing, engaging, simply irresistible proprietress of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the first and only detective agency in Botswana. With persistent observation, gentle intuition, and a keen desire to help people with the problems of their lives, she solves mysteries great and small for friends and strangers alike.
Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (Grove Press)
From the author of MASTER AND MARGARITA, BLACK SNOW and DIABOLIAD, a novel which features a Moscow professor who befriends a stray dog and transplants into it the testicles and pituitary gland of a dead man, unleashing a human dog which turns the professor's life into a nightmare beyond endurance.
Eyes of the Calculor by Sean McMullen (Tor)
Imagine a glittering, dynamic, and exotic Earth two thousand years in the future, where librarians fight duels to settle disputes, there is no electricity, fuelled engines are banned by every major religion in Australia, humanity has split into two species, and intelligent cetezoids rule the oceans. Fundamentally, unexpectedly, things are changing everywhere. As catastrophe looms and civilization begins to crumble, the Dragon Librarians have just one means left to hold their world together: to kidnap every numerate person on the continent and rebuild their out-of-date human-powered computer-the Calculor.
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner)
Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls’ aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie. 
The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt.

Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 5

I'm late as heck at getting to all the books I've received recently.  Just wait until I decide to crack open the books I bought at the local book sale (for research purposes, primarily -- no, I'm not joking).

What I want to know is:

  1. What have you purchased recently?
  2. Which books below most interest you?

Here's the list:


After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh (Small Beer Press)
The apocalypse was yesterday. These stories are today.  
In her new collection, Story Prize finalist Maureen F. McHugh delves into the dark heart of contemporary life and life five minutes from now and how easy it is to mix up one with the other. Her stories are post-bird flu, in the middle of medical trials, wondering if our computers are smarter than us, wondering when our jobs are going to be outsourced overseas, wondering if we are who we say we are, and not sure what we’d do to survive the coming zombie plague.
Antiquitas Lost:  The Last of the Shamalans by Robert Louis Smith (Medlock Publishing)
Move over Harry Potter. From American cardiologist Robert Louis Smith comes the unique fantasy novel Antiquitas Lost, peppered with more than seventy eye-popping illustrations by Marvel Comics legend Geof Isherwood. This epic fantasy tale tells the story of a boy named Elliott, a lonesome kid with deformities on his hands and feet, who is uprooted from his home after his mother falls gravely ill. When they move to New Orleans so his grandfather can help care for her, Elliott learns that the old man's eighteenth century mansion hides an ancient secret. While checking out some strange relics in the basement, Elliott strays through an ancient doorway into a tumultuous parallel world, full of bizarre creatures and warring races. He has stumbled into Pangrelor, the most ancient of all worlds and "mother to all the stars in the sky." As he learns to navigate his new surroundings, he discovers wondrous abilities he never dreamed he possessed, and an abiding connection to the primitive, alien world that will forever change him.
To Sleep Gently by Trent Zelazny (Crossroads Press)
When career criminal Jack Dempster gets caught and put away for five years in prison, he finds time to seriously reconsider his chosen line of work. Before he can make any serious decision, some old acquaintances track him down with a proposal. They want him to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. With the help of an inside man, he’s to lead a small group of professionals on a daring robbery of the El Dorado Hotel, one of the finest, and most secure establishments in the Southwest.  
Double-crosses, love triangles, and immersion in his own self-destructive past conspire to lead him to ruin. It’s not easy to sleep when searching for normalcy in the heart of a brutal past.
 The Crimson Pact (Vol. 1) edited by Paul Genesse (Alliteration Ink)
The moment of the demons' defeat became their greatest victory. 
In the carnage after the last great battle against the demons, a doomed general discovers their hidden victory. Instead of being annihilated, unspeakable evil escaped into many unsuspecting worlds. To fight them, the men and women of the Crimson Pact must sacrifice everything—including their own lives. 
Explore 26 stories based on the world created in “The Failed Crusade,” by Patrick M. Tracy and included in The Crimson Pact Volume 1, about the valiant men and women who refuse to let the demons win, and those unfortunate souls caught in the epic struggle raging across the multiverse. 
New York Times Bestselling author and Campbell award nominee, Larry Correia, and many urban fantasy, steampunk, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy writers tell the tales in this diverse collection of short stories, flash fiction, and novellas. 
With stories by Patrick M. Tracy, Richard Lee Byers, Jess Hartley, Donald J. Bingle, Chris Pierson, Barbara J. Webb, Kelly Swails, Sarah Hans, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Sarah Kanning, Isaac Bell, Elaine Blose, Kathy Watness, Daniel Myers, Justin Swapp, Rebecca L. Brown, Gloria Weber, Garrett Piglia, T.S. Rhodes, Lester Smith, Chanté McCoy, Suzzane Myers, EA Younker, Craig Nybo, and Larry Correia. 
Join the pact. Fight the demons now.* 
* Note: The proceeds from the sale of this book go to the continued eradication of every red-eyed, soul-stealing, shadow-lurking, flesh-eating, baby-stealing demon in the entire multiverse.
The Crimson Pact (Vol. 2) edited by Paul Genesse (Alliteration Ink)
The Pact is back and demons are as devious as ever in The Crimson Pact Volume 2. 
Read 28 original stories (over 500 pages in print!), including many sequels to stories in volume one. Suzzanne Myers’s powerful flash fiction piece, "Withered Tree" continues with the exceptional short story, "Seven Dogs." Chanté McCoy’s "Inside Monastic Walls" is followed by the literally gut-wrenching follow-up short story, "Body and Soul." Urban fantasy mayhem is off the charts with rising star Patrick Tomlinson’s "Monsters in the Closet" and D. Robert Hamm’s "Karma." Steampunk your thing? EA Younker’s steampunk apocalypse tale "Stand," Sarah Hans’ sequel about professor Campion, "A More Ideal Vessel," and Elaine Blose’s steampunk Western "Wayward Brother" will whet your appetite. The dark fantasy and adventure continues in "Dark Archive," Sarah Kanning writes how Danielle from "Hidden Collection" must deal with the lingering effects of being possessed by a demon. Volume two mixes sequels from Gloria Weber, Justin Swapp, and Isaac Bell with new stories from Lester Smith, K.E. McGee, Adam Israel, Valerie Dircks, T.S. Rhodes, Elizabeth Shack, Daniel Alonso, and Nayad Monroe. 
New York Times Bestselling author and Campbell award nominee Larry Correia presents an exclusive short story, "Son of Fire, Son of Thunder" co-authored by Steven Diamond, about an FBI paranormal investigator and a bad ass marine who knows the exact moment of his own death. Travel to the alternate history Earth of the "Red Bandanna Boys" by Patrick M. Tracy and find out how ruthless you have to be to survive the slums of St. Nikolayev. Follow "The Trail of Blood" by Alex Haig, a horrifying Western about a bounty hunter who wants vengeance, not money. Hunt for Nazis in a disturbing 1950’s America in "Hunters Incorporated" by Kelly Swails. Patrol the steaming jungles of Vietnam with a squad of soldiers in Lon Prater’s "Last Rites in the Big Green Empty." Then enter the mind of a godlike demon in Donald J. Bingle’s ambitions tale, "Dark Garden," or visit the creepy shadow world created by Richard Lee Byers in "Light and Dark." 
Watch your back, the demons are coming. 
This digital special edition of volume 2 includes eleven bonus behind-the-scene "about the stories" essays from the authors.
Cassandra's Time Yarns:  A Shared World Short Story Anthology edited by Erin Lale
Stories accepted for publication in Cassandra's Time Yarns so far: "The End of History" by Gordon Yaswen. "Noble Northern Spirit" by Erin Lale. "Testing Time" by Tony Thorne MBE. "Choice" by Ralph Ewig. "The Beginning" by J.L. Toscano. Art accepted for Cassandra's Time Yarns so far: "Paradise Lost" by Maria Arango. "Mandalas" by Lisa Yount. This anthology will be published in 2012. The submission deadline in Dec. 31, 2011. 
Anarchy Zone Time Yarns:  A Shared World Short Story Anthology edited by Erin Lale
Stories accepted for publication in Anarchy Zone Time Yarns so far: "The Anarchy Zone" by Erin Lale. Poetry by Gordon Yaswen. "An Etonean Dilemma" by Humberto Sachs. "1400 Hrs" by Ian Miller. "Host" by Giampietro Stocco. Art accepted for publication in Anarchy Zone Time Yarns so far: "Hope" by Alex Storer. "It All Goes Away" by Lisa Yount. This anthology will be published in 2012. Submission deadline is Dec. 31, 2011.
Daphne and the Silver Ash by Joss Llewelyn
For fans of The Last Unicorn, Labyrinth, Legend, and other fine stories that begin with "L":  
In the weary old city of Trevell, young Daphne happily divides her time between caring for her family and crafting the finest shoes in town. But when she is summoned to sing for a panicking phoenix afraid of its fiery rebirth, Daphne is swept up in a thousand-year-old struggle for survival between immortal spirits.  
Endowed with the phoenix's powers of air and fire, as well as the creature's beautiful golden skin and ruby feathers, Daphne has only a few hours to save a dying tree, restore a crumbling city, and stop an invading army before the phoenix's fire consumes her mortal heart.

The Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 4

Time for another edition of the Haul of Books!  I'm almost caught up now, but will have to do another edition soon to account for all the books that magically showed up on my door recently.

Feel free to let me know what books you got in the mail in the comments.

Here goes (after the fold):


Mirror Maze by Michaele Jordan (Pyr)
This is a stunning debut novel filled with ghoulish mysteries, romance and adventure. Jacob Aldridge is still utterly devastated by the death of his fiancee when he suddenly encounters her doppelganger. Livia Aram's uncanny resemblance to the late Rhoda Carothers so transcends coincidence that Jacob becomes obsessed with her. The intensity of his passion terrifies her until her compassion is roused by his desperate plight. A demon is stalking him, a succubus-like entity that feeds on human pain and desire. With the help of Jacob's sister, Cecily, and Livia's guardian, the mysterious Dr. Chang, can they overcome the demon before all is lost?
My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland (DAW)
Teenage delinquent Angel Crawford lives with her redneck father in the swamps of southern Louisiana. She's a high school dropout, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and has a police record a mile long. But when she's made into a zombie after a car crash, her addictions disappear, except for her all-consuming need to stay "alive"...
The Houses of Time by Jamil Nasir (Tor)
David Grant has a singular talent--he can affect the course of his dreams. Quite by chance, he discovers the existence of the Trans-Humanist Institute and their lucid dreaming lessons. He discovers that under the tutelage of Dr. Thotmoses he has more control over his dreams. However, his talent soon runs away with him and he visits dreamplaces while awake. The waking world and the dreaming world collide. Grant ends up sedated in a hellish mental institution . . . but escapes through his lucid dreams, which he is beginning to control--though the control is far from perfect. Grant discovers, to his horror, that Dr. Thotmoses belongs to the Caucasus Synod Western Orthodox Church, and that they have been grooming him because of his fantastic dreaming talents. Only someone with his talent at manipulating reality and dream can bring their prayer to the Divine Presence in the universe. Many have tried this journey, few have succeeded. Those who have returned successful are rewarded beyond their wildest dreams.
Shining at the Bottom of the Sea by Stephen Marche (Riverhead Books)
Shining at the Bottom of the Sea is a vibrant evocation of a fictional country, Sanjania—from the birth pangs of its first settlers and their hardy vernacular, to its revolutionary years, and all the way to the present diaspora—all told through Stephen Marche’s innovative and accomplished writing style.
Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham (Starscape)
Down the Mysterly River is the children’s book debut of Bill Willingham, the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series Fables. Complete with illustrations by Fables artist Mark Buckingham, it is a spirited, highly original tale of adventure, suspense, and everlasting friendship. Max “the Wolf” is a top notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat)—all of whom talk—and who are as clueless as Max. Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world…
The Immorality Engine by George Mann (Tor)
On the surface, life is going well for Victorian special agent Sir Maurice Newbury, who has brilliantly solved several nigh-impossible cases for Queen Victoria with his indomitable assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, by his side. But these facts haven’t stopped Newbury from succumbing increasingly frequently to his dire flirtation with the lure of opium. His addiction is fueled in part by his ill-gotten knowledge of Veronica’s secret relationship with the queen, which Newbury fears must be some kind of betrayal. Veronica, consumed by worry and care for her prophetic but physically fragile sister Amelia, has no idea that she is a catalyst for Newbury’s steadily worsening condition. Veronica and Newbury’s dear friend Bainbridge, the Chief Investigator at Scotland Yard, tries to cover for him as much as possible, but when the body of a well known criminal turns up, Bainbridge and Veronica track Newbury down in an opium den and drag him out to help them with the case. The body is clearly, irrefutably, that of the man in question, but shortly after his body is brought to the morgue, a crime is discovered that bears all the dead man’s hallmarks. Bainbridge and Veronica fear someone is committing copycat crimes, but Newbury is not sure. Somehow, the details are too perfect for it to be the work of a copycat. But how can a dead man commit a crime?
The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes (Angry Robot)
A hilariously demonic romp through Hell and Back. When mild-mannered actuary Chesney Artstruther accidentally summons a demon and refuses to sell his soul, Hell goes on strike - but with no demons to tempt mankind, the world slows down. No temptation means no ambition, and no drive - the world's manufacturing and agriculture suffers, and something must be done! Chesney agrees to help, but in return he wants to be a superhero with a demonic sidekick!
Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Tor)
Only the most desperate colonists dare to make a new home on Hellhole. Reeling from a recent asteroid impact, tortured with horrific storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and churning volcanic eruptions, the planet is a dumping ground for undesirables, misfits, and charlatans…but also a haven for dreamers and independent pioneers. Against all odds, an exiled general named Adolphus has turned Hellhole into a place of real opportunity for the desperate colonists who call the planet their home. While the colonists are hard at work developing the planet, General Adolphus secretly builds alliances with the leaders of the other Deep Zone worlds, forming a clandestine coalition against the tyrannical, fossilized government responsible for their exile. What no one knows is this: the planet Hellhole, though damaged and volatile, hides an amazing secret. Deep beneath its surface lies the remnants of an obliterated alien civilization and the buried memories of its unrecorded past that, when unearthed, could tear the galaxy apart.
-------------------------------------------------------

Phew!  That's a lot of books, right?

Which if this are of interest to you?

The Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 3

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.

Now I'll shut up and get to the books:


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!

The Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 2

I've got more books for you, which is pretty awesome if you are a lover of books.  Me?  I'm a lover of books.  I love books almost as much as I love the sound of my own voice.  Wait...

Anywho!  I've got one last edition to do after this one, and then I'll be caught up.  Unless twenty more books show up on my doorstep... *drools*

Here goes nothing:

Promises to Keep by Charles De Lint (Tachyon)
With the help of a mentor and an anonymous benefactor, Jilly Coppercorn has overcome abuse, addiction, and a stint in juvie. Though she still struggles to stay clean, she has found safety and love in a newly formed family that includes her loyal best friend, a lovely artist, and her caseworker. Temptation comes knocking, however, when her best friend from the bad old days rides in on a motorcycle and takes Jilly to a beautiful, mysterious city full of wonderful opportunities. It seems perfect at first, until Jilly discovers that it was a one-way trip—and she still has unfinished business in Newford. At turns playful and serious, this urban fantasy introduces de Lint’s most enduring character and grapples with the realities of life-changing choices.
Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Thomas Dunne Books)
From the author of the international and New York Times bestseller Let the Right One In (Let Me In) comes this stunning and terrifying book which begins when a man's six-year-old daughter vanishes.One ordinary winter afternoon on a snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse in the middle of the frozen channel. While the couple explore the lighthouse, Maja disappears -- either into thin air or under thin ice -- leaving not even a footprint in the snow. Two years later, alone and more or less permanently drunk, Anders returns to the island to regroup. He slowly realises that people are not telling him all they know; even his own mother, it seems, is keeping secrets. What is happening in Domaro, and what power does the sea have over the town's inhabitants?

As he did with Let the Right One In and Handling the Undead, John Ajvide Lindqvist serves up a blockbuster cocktail of suspense in a narrative that barely pauses for breath.
Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes (Pyr)
The debut novel from an extraordinarily talented twenty-five-year-old author. Fantasy's next global star has arrived. Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out. Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.
Embassytown by China Mieville (Del Rey)
China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.
The Nebula Awards Showcase:  2011 edited by Kevin J. Anderson (Tor)
With this inaugural volume at Tor, the annual Nebula Award collection is reborn as a fiction-only anthology. This collection of nominees for 2010’s Nebula Awards includes all of the prior year’s most celebrated stories, and will be published in time for the 2011 Nebula Awards in May, 2011.

2009’s award winners, announced in May 2010, include Kage Baker’s novella “The Women of Nell Gwynne’s,” Eugie Foster’s novelette “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” Kij Johnson’s short story “Spar,” plus Paolo Bacigalupi’s novelette, “The Gambler.”
The Plain Man by Steve Englehart (Tor)
Magick and reality collide in a new, fast-paced Max August thriller

Max August is not invulnerable, but he never ages—a gift he earned while studying under the legendary alchemist Cornelius Agrippa. August, now an alchemist himself, is using his magickal abilities to fight the right-wing conspiracy known as the FRC, which seeks to control all aspects of society. At the top of the FRC is a nine-member cabal, each member of which is a powerful force in one area of society, such as media, politics, finance…and wizardry.

When Max learns that two members of the cabal are en route to Wickr, a Burning Man–like festival held in the American Southwest, he stages a plan to gather information from them and, he hopes turn one member against the others. Max has been careful not to leave a trail, but the cabal sees all, and an “accident” at a nuclear waste facility just 100 miles from the festival would send a clear message to those who oppose the FRC. Max may be timeless, but he is running out of time to stop the FRC and save millions of lives.
Blood and Other Cravings edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)
When we think of vampires, instantly the image arises: fangs sunk deep into the throat of the victim. But bloodsucking is merely one form of vampirism. For this brilliantly original anthology, Ellen Datlow has commissioned stories from many of the most powerfully dark voices in contemporary horror, who conjure tales of vampirism that will chill readers to the marrow.

In addition to the traditional fanged vampires, Datlow presents stories about the leeching of emotion, the draining of the soul, and other dark deeds of predation and exploitation, infestation, and evisceration…tales of life essence, literal or metaphorical, stolen.

Seventeen stories, by such award-winning authors as Elizabeth Bear, Richard Bowes, Kathe Koja, Margo Lanagan, Carol Emshwiller, and Lisa Tuttle will petrify readers. With dark tales by Laird Barron, Barry Malzberg and Bill Pronzini, Kaaron Warren, and other powerful voices, this anthology will redefine the terror of vampires and vampirism.
Awakenings by Edward Lazellari (Tor)
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It’s as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Now their forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.

Cal's and Seth’s lives are turned upside down as they are stalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men's past lives. But these creatures aren't here to help; they're intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore a broken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they're being hunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman who has promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough to protect their loved ones, recover their true selves—and save two worlds from tyranny and destruction.

Awakenings launches a captivating fantasy saga by an amazing and talented new storyteller.
 Do any of these interest you?  Let me know in the comments!

The Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 1 (Special Reboot Edition)

I haven't done a Haul of Books thing in a long time.  The result?  A pile of books I've received for review which I haven't told you all about, with a smaller pile of things I've purchased for myself that I also haven't told you about.  Well, I can't let them sit there without at least telling you about them.  So the Haul of Book begins anew!

Let's get to it (descriptions taken from Amazon):

Brave New Worlds edited by John Joseph Adams (Night Shade Books)
YOU ARE BEING WATCHED. 
Your every movement is being tracked, your every word recorded. Your spouse may be an informer, your children may be listening at your door, your best friend may be a member of the secret police. You are alone among thousands, among great crowds of the brainwashed, the well-behaved, the loyal. Productivity has never been higher, the media blares, and the army is ever triumphant. One wrong move, one slip-up, and you may find yourself disappeared -- swallowed up by a monstrous bureaucracy, vanished into a shadowy labyrinth of interrogation chambers, show trials, and secret prisons from which no one ever escapes. Welcome to the world of the dystopia, a world of government and society gone horribly, nightmarishly wrong.
In his smash-hit anthologies Wastelands and The Living Dead, acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams showed you what happens when society is utterly wiped away. Now he brings you a glimpse into an equally terrifying future -- what happens when civilization invades and dictates every aspect of your life? From 1984 to The Handmaid's Tale, from Children of Men to Bioshock, the dystopian imagination has been a vital and gripping cautionary force. Brave New Worlds collects 33 of the best tales of totalitarian menace by some of today's most visionary writers, including Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Ursula K. Le Guin. 
When the government wields its power against its own people, every citizen becomes an enemy of the state. Will you fight the system, or be ground to dust beneath the boot of tyranny?
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (Bantam)
A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
A Feast of Crows by George R. R. Martin (Bantam)
It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears. . . . With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King’s Landing. Robb Stark’s demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist—or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.

But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.

It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes . . . and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (Bantam)
Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . .
But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others--a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . .
The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein (Tachyon)
An ages-old family secret breaches the boundaries between reality and magic in this fresh retelling of a classic fairy tale. When Berkeley student Will Taylor is introduced to the mysterious Feierabend sisters, he quickly falls for enigmatic Livvy, a chemistry major and accomplished chef. But Livvy’s family—vivacious actress Maddie, family historian Rose, and their mother, absent-minded Sylvia—are behaving strangely. The Feierabend women seem to believe that luck is their handmaiden, even though happiness does not necessarily follow. It is soon discovered that generations previous, the Feierabends made a contract with a powerful, otherworldly force, and it is up to Will and his best friend to unravel the riddle of this supernatural bargain in order to save Livvy from her predestined fate.
Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince by Noriko Ogiwara (Haikasoru/VIZ Media)
Oguna is an orphan with a secret even he doesn’t know—he’s a prince and heir to a terrible power. His best friend Toko is a member of the Tachibana clan and a potential high priestess able to tame that power...or destroy it.
State of Decay by James Knapp (Roc)
Just because you're dead doesn't mean you're useless...

A thrilling debut novel of a dystopian future populated by a new breed of zombie

They call them revivors-technologically reanimated corpses-and away from the public eye they do humanity's dirtiest work. But FBI agent Nico Wachalowski has stumbled upon a conspiracy involving revivors being custom made to kill-and a startling truth about the existence of these undead slaves.
A Cup of Normal by Devon Monk (Fairwood Press)
These twenty-two short stories are measured out with a cup of normal and a pound of the fantastic. From dark fairytales to alien skies, Monk's stories blend haunting yesterdays, forgotten todays and twisted tomorrows wherein: ...A normal little girl in a city made of gears, takes on the world to save a toy.... ...A normal ancient monster living in Seattle, must decide if love is worth trusting a hero... ...A normal patchwork woman and her two-headed boyfriend stitch their life and farm together with needle, thread, and time... ...a normal vampire in a knitting shop must face sun-drenched secrets... ...a normal snow creature's wish changes a mad man's life... ...a normal man breaks reality with a hamster... ...and yes, a normal little robot, defines how extraordinary friendship can be. Poignant, bittersweet, frightening, and funny, these stories pour out worlds that are both lovely and odd, darkly strange and tantalizingly familiar, where no matter how fantastic the setting or situation, love, freedom, and hope find a way to take root and thrive.
Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars, and Other Unusual Suspects by Ken Scholes (Fairwood Press)
Return to Ken Scholes' Imagination Forest in this second collection of quirky, off-beat short stories. Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars and Other Unusual Suspects gathers seventeen tales spanning his first published story in 2000 to his most recent in 2009 including two stories set in the world of his Psalms of Isaak series. You'll encounter cynical Santas and explore the dating woes of superheroes. You'll join God and Satan in the bar for a glass of merlot and watch the hyjinx unfold as Reverend Sparkle Jones leads his rag-tag gang of misfits across a post-apocalyptic America in search of the holy grail to stem the tide of an alien invasion. You'll meet the Lady of the Lake in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and bump into Abe and his backup singers as they do their part to save the world. So settle in for the ride and keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times. Here in the Imagination Forest, you never know exactly who - or what - you'll come across.
Do any of these interest you?  If so, let me know in the comments!

Haul of Books 2011: Stuff For Me v.01

Considering that I just got back from a conference in which books were involved, it seems like perfect timing to have a new edition of the Haul of Books.

So, without further delay, here is the image (after the fold):

And here are the descriptions, from left to right, top to bottom (taken from Amazon):


1.  The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia (signed -- see here)
Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets - secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. This doesn't sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart - literally.
2.  The City and the City by China Mieville (signed)
When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.
3.  Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson (signed)
The Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint celebrates Carnival in traditional fashion, and Tan-Tan, a young reveler, is masked as the Midnight Robber, Trinidads answer to Robin Hood. But after her father commits a deadly crime, he flees with her to the brutal New Half Way Tree, a planet inhabited by violent human outcasts and monstrous creatures known only through folklore. Here, Tan-Tan is forced to reach into the heart of myth and become the legendary heroine herself, for only the Robber Queens powers can save Tan-Tan from such a savage world.
4.  I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita (signed)
Dazzling and ambitious, this hip, multi-voiced fusion of prose, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy spins an epic tale of America’s struggle for civil rights as it played out in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Divided into ten novellas, one for each year, I Hotel begins in 1968, when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, students took to the streets, the Vietnam War raged, and cities burned.

As Karen Yamashita’s motley cast of students, laborers, artists, revolutionaries, and provocateurs make their way through the history of the day, they become caught in a riptide of politics and passion, clashing ideologies and personal turmoil. And by the time the survivors unite to save the International Hotel—epicenter of the Yellow Power Movement—their stories have come to define the very heart of the American experience.
5.  Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (signged)
Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.

Isaac has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before fathomed. Though the Garuda's request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger.

While Isaac's experiments for the Garuda turn into an obsession, one of his lab specimens demands attention: a brilliantly colored caterpillar that feeds on nothing but a hallucinatory drug and grows larger—and more consuming—by the day. What finally emerges from the silken cocoon will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon—and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it invokes . . .

A magnificent fantasy rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, told in a storytelling style in which Charles Dickens meets Neal Stephenson, Perdido Street Station offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader's imagination.
6.  Sha'Daa:  Tales of the Apocalypse edited by Edward F. McKeown (won)
"Sha'Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse is a wild mix of the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and end of the world genres that is well worth the time of any Survial fiction fan." Eric S Brown, Author of Season of Rot and Cobble.

The Sha'Daa has its dark, eerie, terrifying roots anchored deep in the soil of fictional horror and mythic apocrypha. The end-of-days is a concept reinvented multiple times by each generation of writers with every new century, and our own 21st is no exception. We offer up this humble tribute to those who came before us.

A gruesome shout out is given for Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Bloch, H.P. Lovecraft, F. Paul Wilson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, Brian Lumley, Homer, Arthur Conan Doyle, and all the rest who have given us reason to fear the night.

Be warned. The Sha'Daa is coming.
7.  Sha'Daa:  Last Call edited by Edward F. McKeown (won)
I can't find a description.
8.  Air by Geoff Ryman (found at used bookstore in Riverside, CA)
Chung Mae is the fashion expert of the farming village of Kizuldah, Karzistan. As such, she represents the villagers' con-nection to the culture of the wider world beyond their fields. But Mae's role is about to change drastically. The Net, and unlimited information, has finally come to Kizuldah, and it's soon to be followed by Air, a new communication technology that will connect everyone, everywhere, without wires or computers. But the initial test of Air is a disaster; people are killed by the shock, and Mae ends up imprinted with the memories of a dying old woman. Realizing the changes the future will bring to Kizuldah, Mae struggles to lead her people to prepare themselves, while preserving the values that have always held the village together.
9.  Moxyland by Lauren Beukes (South African edition I found at the Eaton Conference)
What's really going on? Who's really in charge? You have NO. F***KING. IDEA.

A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. An art-school dropout, and AIDS baby, a tech-activist and an RPG-obsessed blogger live in a world where your online identity is at least as important as your physical one. Getting disconnected is a punishment worse than imprisonment, but someone's got to stand up to Government Inc. - whatever the cost. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society's white knight.
10.  Timescape by Gregory Benford (signed)
1962: A young Californian scientist finds his experiments spoiled by mysterious interference. Gradually his suspicions lead him to a shattering truth: scientists from the end of the century are using subatomic particles to send a message into the past, in the hope that history can be changed and a world-threatening catastrophe averted.
Anything sound interesting to you?