Dec 14, 2011

WWLD: What Would Lucas Do?

Ensign: But sir, I don't know if the market can stand another sequel.

Captain: Acknowledged. Reverse thrusters. Full power.

Ensign: Sir, are you sure, that would mean...

Captain: Yes, ensign - it's time for


The sad thing is that if the upcoming movie does well, this is only going to get worse.

Have we learned nothing from Dune or Pern?

Dec 12, 2011

Covering Covers (and Contents): The YBSF: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection - Gardner Dozois

Via Pat Cadigan's livejournal via Tobias Buckell's twitter, here is the line-up for Dozois's 29th annual SF collection:
  • "The Choice" by Paul Mcauley
  • "Silently And Very Fast" by Catherynne M. Valente
  • "The Man Who Bridged The Mist" by Kij Johnson
  • "The Ants Of Flanders" by Robert Reed
  • "A Soldier Of The City" by David Moles
  • "The Invasion Of Venus" by Stephen Baxter
  • "Laika's Ghost" by Karl Schroeder
  • "The Beancounter's Cat" by Damien Broderick
  • "The Vicar Of Mars" by Gwyneth Jones
  • "Dolly" by Elizabeth Bear
  • "Martian Heart" by John Barnes
  • "Ascension Day" by Alastair Reynolds
  • "The Smell Of Orange Groves" by Lavie Tidhar
  • "After The Apocalypse" by Maureen McHugh
  • "A Long Way Home" by Jay Lake
  • "What We Found" by Geoff Ryman
  • "The Incredible Exploding Man" by Dave Hutchinson
  • "The Copenhagen Interpretation" by Paul Cornell
  • "The Way It Works Out And All" by Peter S. Beagle
  • "The Dala Horse" by Michael Swanwick
  • "Earth Hour" by Ken MacLeod
  • "The Ice Owl" by Carolyn Ives Gilman
  • "Digital Rites" by Jim Hawkins
  • "Cody" by Pat Cadigan
  • "Ghostweight" by Yoon Ha Lee
  • "A Response From Est17" by Tom Purdom
  • "Digging" by Ian McDonald
  • "A Militant Peace" by David Klecha & Tobias S. Buckell
  • "For I Have Lain Me Down On The Stone Of Loneliness And I'll Not Be Back Again" by Michael Swanwick
  • "The Iron Shirts" by Michael Flynn
  • "The Boneless One" by Alec Nevala-Lee
  • "Canterbury Hollow" by Chris Lawson
  • "The Cold Step Beyond" by Ian R. MacLeod
  • "The Vorkuta Event" by Ken MacLeod
  • "Dying Young" by Peter M. Ball
Lots of familiar names on that list - and a few new (to me) ones. Got some more reading to do...
As for the cover, I'm afraid Dozois continues to lose ground to Strahan, whose competing 6th volume features this gorgeous piece of art:
 Or maybe it's just me. Either way, congrats to all the authors who were selected!

Dec 10, 2011

Suicide Watch

Some advice for all the noobs out there - mainlining the first 60 issues of The Walking Dead is not good for your soul.

Need a visual representation?

And that guy was a Ned Flanders-class optimist before he started reading.

I fear the only cure is to eat copious amounts of fresh, warm-out-of-the-oven Christmas cookies.

Wish me luck.

Dec 6, 2011

Books Received and Other Things

Still here. Still around. Trying to figure out some real world type stuff while not letting the day job implode. We can't all start our own publishing imprint... Although I wouldn't be opposed. In the mean time, here's what I've received recently...

That's right - yours truly has obtained a copy of The Drowned Cities and I didn't even have to defraud a teaching convention to do it. Although that's not to say I wouldn't if I had the chance.

In other news, I hope to have a review of Michael Sullivan's Theft of Swords up in the near future. I finished the book/books yesterday and I was impressed if not blown away. The first book feels a little "self-published" (if that's a thing) at first but Sullivan eventually finds a rhythm and puts together two solid fantasy outings. There are a few pacing problems which lead me to question the omnibus format but I was pleasantly reminded of my childhood experience of reading The Belgariad.

In any event, Rise of Empire has jumped up the reading list. But should I read that or Seed? Or Throne of the Crescent Moon? Or The Drowned Cities? Decisions, decisions...

Nov 17, 2011

Kindle Fire Impressions : Day One

Unboxed my Kindle Fire yesterday and spent the afternoon playing around with my new toy. Here's some early impressions.

  1. Between an Amazon Prime subscription (which I already have) for Video and Books and Pandora for music, I could go probably go months without paying for any actual content. Throw in a Netflix or Hulu+ account and a few cheap eBook deals and I certainly could keep myself entertained for less than $200 bucks a year. I'm one of the million or so that dropped at least part of their Netflix account in the last few months and with the Kindle Fire as a content portal, I might go back.

  2. I don't like the way the Fire organizes user-uploaded videos. Currently, it puts them in the photo gallery . If you're trying to watch a TV season in order, it's tricky to tell which episode is which. Unlike iTunes, there doesn't seem to be anyway to supply this metadata yourself. I also haven't found a way to increase the size of the thumbnails or display the file names or some other method to clean things up.

  3. Speaking of user supplied content, the file system / mini-USB connection leaves a lot to be desired. We've got three computers in the YetiHousehold (2 Win / 1 Mac) and the connection only worked the first time on the Mac. The other two computers couldn't seem to connect with any regularity. The mini USB pin also seems to be slightly defective as it would sometime lose the connection with nothing more than a small movement of the wire.

  4. The built-in store interface is clean but browsing is difficult. One thing that bugs me is the separation of SF and F books. That's like moving Bert and Ernie into a duplex. There might be better ways to sort and browse but if they aren't obvious to the user, that's a failure on the interface design team. 

  5. The app store is very sparse right now. I'm going to assume that will fill up with time but right now, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about. Would love to see some old RPG ports from PS1 or SNES but I don't know if that's realistic. I can only launch so many ornithic missles at porcine targets before I need something new.

  6. Browsing the web on this is fine. I wouldn't do a lot of typing but for basic browsing it works fairly well. I haven't really noticed if and when the Silk functionality come into play, but everything has loaded just fine. Not sure if it takes a little while to get to know my habits or not.

  7. Touch screen responsiveness is the closest I've seen to the iPad / iPod Touch. No complaints on that front, which is one of the places where competing devices fall short most often.

  8. I haven't read anything for any extended period of time but I do like the ability to have a back lit, low brightness screen. Good for reading in bed without disturbing the YetiWife, although I always end up falling asleep while reading before she does.

  9. There is an odd sense of disappointment that comes along with the purchase of any technology centered around content consumption. While you have new ways to interact with your content, at the end of the day, you've got the same content you had before. It's like buying a really nice filing cabinet.

  10. Bottom line: The Amazon Kindle is a near perfect device for content consumption (music, books, video, web browsing). It's lacking as a productivity device but it's not really being sold as such, especially not for $200.

More later, but aside from the USB connectivity I like everything I've seen so far.

Nov 13, 2011

YetiStomper Picks for October

So I'm going to run through my October picks a little quicker than usual. And a little later than usual. Not just because I'm somewhat time deficient at the moment. More so that there are TWENTY ONE books to discuss.

For an industry that's dying, that's a pretty steady heartbeat.

Swell - Corwin Ericson

Stand Alone Novel - Swell is a curious little book that straddles the fine line between literature and genre, depicting an absurd adventure that never takes itself too seriously. Ericson's prose might be a little overwrought at times but he hits far more often than he misses, resulting in a impressive debut that never fails to entertain. (October 25 from Dark Coast Press)

The Children of the Sky - Vernor Vinge

Zones of Thought, Book 2 -  It's been 18 years since Vinge's modern SF classic of galactic proportions took the SF world by storm. The universe established in A Fire Upon The Deep begged for a sequel and we've finally got it. The early buzz is that The Children of the Sky doesn't quite live up to the standard set by it's progenitor but if it's even half as good, it will still be one of the best SF books of the year. (October 11 from Tor)

Osama: A Novel - Lavie Tidhar

Stand Alone Novella - The early contender for timely release of the year before Steve Jobs's autobiography became the book of 2011, Osama is a title everyone should recognize. But the character which Tidhar depicts is not the Bin Laden we all know and despise. Has Tidhar constructed a modern version of Philip K. Dick's seminal The Man in the High Castle? I suspect I'm not the only one who thinks so. (September 21 from PS Publishing)

The Cold Commands - Richard Morgan

A Land Fit For Heroes, Book 2 - Noted SF author Morgan's first foray into fantasy was met with mixed feelings. Now he's back for another go at hard edged fantasy in the vein of Martin and Abercrombie with The Cold Commands. (October 11 from Del Rey)

The Third Section - Jasper Kent

The Danilov Quintet, Book 3 - Kent's vampire saga reaches the halfway point as Dmitry Alekseevich Danilov picks up the fight his father started over 40 years ago. Part sprawling historical epic, part dark fantasy, The Danilov Quintet is one of Pyr's best offerings. (October 25 from Pyr)

Infidel - Kameron Hurley

God's War Trilogy, Book 2 - Only a few months ago, Kameron Hurley was turning heads with a debut novel that blended religion, race, and gender in a far future world unlike anything else in the industry today. Now she returns to that world with Infidel, as ex-assassin Nyx is forced to kill once more to protect a fragile peace. (October 18 from Night Shade Books)

Kingdom of Gods - N. K. Jemisin

Inheritance Trilogy, Book 3 -  A pure storyteller in the same vein as Gaiman and Le Guin, Jemisin has ability to tell a story that transcends the simple words on the page. At first glance, her world of gods and mortals, life and death, freedom and slavery, love and hate might appear overly dichotomous but be assured that in the end, nothing is quite so simple. Whatever "it" is, Nora K. Jemisin has it is droves. (October 27 from Orbit)

The End Specialist - Drew Magary

Stand Alone Novel - No one wants to get old. What if you didn't have to? Awesome, right? Keep in mind that that bus will still kill you, no questions asked. Drew Magary explores the implications of living in a world in which natural death has been removed from the rulebook through the blog of "end specialist" John Farrell. Magary himself is a blogger, and his experience lends itself well to the dark, satirical perspective of the book. (UK: September 29 from Harper Voyager / US: Aug 30 from Penguin)

Snuff - Terry Pratchett

Discworld Novels, Book 39 - It's Pratchett. It's Discworld. I think this is a City Watch novel but that doesn't really matter, does it? (October 11 from Harper)

Riptide - Paul S. Kemp

Star Wars, Jaden Korr, Book 2 - Paul Kemp's Crosscurrent (review) was the best Star Wars book of 2010. Normally, that's not saying much but Kemp brings it - regardless of whether "it" is Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, or his work of his own creation. It's been a long wait to find our what happened to the escaped band of insane cloned Jedi (I know, right?) but I'm excited to watch (mostly) sane Jedi Knight Jaden Korr track them down. (October 25 from Lucasbooks)

The Night Eternal - Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain Trilogy, Book 3 - Twilight this is not. Del Toro and Hogan understand that vampires aren't sparkly cuddle puppies. They are bloodthirsty monsters who want to eat you or breed you like cattle for their eventual consumption. As such, if you encounter a vampire, please exterminate it with extreme prejudice. Still don't understand? This hybrid horror/thriller will demonstrate until even the zombies get it. (October 25 from William Morrow)

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami

Stand Alone Novel - Hmmm.... I don't even how to begin describe this 944 page monstrosity in a couple of sentences. It may or may not be 1984. There may or may not be two moons. A math teacher and a novelist are rewriting a story. Probably. I'm reasonable sure it's not a Tolkien knock-off, if that helps... I've not yet read 1Q84 but the word on the street is that Murakami is one of the best novelists writing in any language today. And everyone seems to agree that IQ84 is (another) masterpiece. (October 25 from Knopf)

King's War - Maurice Broaddus

The Knights of Breton Court Trilogy, Book 3 - Whoever said you shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight obviously wasn't referring to Excalibur. Broaddus wraps up his inspired retelling of the Arthurian Saga set in modern day Indianapolis amidst the gang plagued Breton Court projects. If West Side Story is Romeo & Juliet + racial tensions in 1950s New York set to music, The Knights of Breton Court is Arthurian Legend + gang violence told as Urban Fantasy. But when your version of Camelot is the projects, what is your Avalon?  (October 25 from Angry Robot)

The Sacred Band - David Anthony Durham

Acacia Trilogy, Book 3 - In a genre where everyone can start a fantasy series but no one can finish one, David Anthony Durham stands out for his ability to not only close out a trilogy but to do so with a level of quality on par with, if not exceeding, that of the introductory volume. Simultaneously fantastic and realistic, the world Acacia is one of the genre's best kept secrets. (October 4 from Doubleday)

Aloha from Hell - Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim, Book 3 - Unapologetic urban fantasy at its best, Aloha from Hell wraps up the first
Sandman Slim trilogy as James Stark returns to Hell to save the girl, stop a killer, and maintain the balance of good and evil. These books would be so wrong, if they just weren't so much fun. (October 18 from Harper Voyager)

Master of the House of Darts - Aliette de Bodard

Obsidian and Blood Trilogy, Book 3 - If you haven't guessed by now, October is "Finish Your Trilogy Month." De Bodard wraps up her South American infused series with the Master of the House of Darts. If Game of Thrones and its ripoffs have got you tired of Medieval European fantasy analogues give de Bodard's Mesoamerican saga a try. Or don't. It's not like she demonstrates a disturbingly complete understanding of human sacrifice or anything. (October 25 from Angry Robot)

Zone One - Colson Whitehead

Stand Alone Novel - Insert "BRAAIINNZZZZ..." joke here. Zone One is the intellectual's zombie novel, focusing more on the emotional stress of hunting down zombie remnants in a devastated Manhattan reclaimed from the zombie hordes rather than the emotional stress of hunting down zombie remnants in a devastated Manhattan reclaimed from the zombie hordes. But Whitehead's got it all wrong. I've played Left4Dead. Zombie hunting is like getting warm blankets straight out of the dryer. (October 18 from Doubleday)

Iron Jackal - Chris Wooding

Tales of the Ketty Jay, Book 3 - The rapscallious crew of the Ketty Jay returns for a third adventure across the skies of Vardia. Wooding's mashup of steampunk and Firefly probably won't win the Booker Prize but I wouldn't put it past Captain Frey and company to just steal it from whoever does. Train heists, airship races, master thievery; what's not to like? (October 20 from Gollancz)

Context - Cory Doctorow

Essay Collection - As good as his speculation is, there's something to be said for the quality of Doctorow's pontifications. Post-scarcity economics, the efficacy of digital rights management, and 21st century copyright concerns are only a few of the bleeding edge topics touched upon by Doctorow in the follow-up to last year's Content. Thought-provoking, well-written, and alarming, Doctorow's work is a must read for anyone concerned about the well being of digital artists.  (October 1 from Tachyon Publications)

Fox & Phoenix - Beth Bernobich

Long City, Book 1 - A young adult fantasy novel set in the same Chinese influenced fantasy world as Bernobich's novelette "Pig, Crane, Fox", Fox & Phoenix is a quirky blend of humor, character, and adventure. You can download "Pig, Crane, Fox" for free here. Why not give it a try? (October 13 from Viking Children's)

The White People and Other Weird Stories - Arthur Machen

Short Story Collection - What's Halloween without a good scary story? This month Penguin Classics publishes collections of not one but two masters of horror in Arthur Machen and H.P. Lovecraft. I chose to focus on Machen over Lovecraft due to my unfamiliarity with Machen's work but make no mistake, the genre wouldn't be what it is today without these two terrors. (September 27 from Penguin Classics)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: So many options. Too many options. I give up. I'll just flip a coin. At least, when I find a twenty-one sided one. Do they even make dice that multifaceted?

Back on track. It's tempting to go with something of the horror variety, being October and all, but seeing as I'm actually posting this in November, I'm going to go in a different direction. Damn, no turkey themed books either.

So this isn't helping. What happened to the months with two books? I miss those. Let's start by identifying a short(er) list.

  • 1Q84
  • The Master of the House of Darts
  • The Sacred Band
  • Kingdom of Gods
  • The Children of the Sky
Ugh, and that's ignoring Kameron Hurley and Richard Kadrey. AND Terry Pratchett. Are you still reading this? I wouldn't be.

So now I need to choose between a master of the modern novel (1Q84), an alternate history work that rejects the framework of 99% of modern fantasy (The Master of the House of Darts), the conclusion to one of the most complete fantasy trilogies in ages (The Sacred Band), the closing volume of a series that launched a new voice with the potential to enter the ranks of master storytellers (Kingdom of Gods), and the sequel to one of the best SF novels of the past 20 years (The Children of the Sky).

It's a five way tie!

Let's go to the YetiRulebook: "In the case of a tie, the YetiPick goes to the author who would benefit most from selling an additional 2 books."

Well I don't think I'm going to help Murakami be more of a bestseller, so 1Q84 is out. Likewise for N.K. Jemisin, who is surprising no one after the surfeit of  critical acclaim The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms garnered last year. Let's also cut The Children of the Sky on the grounds it's been anticipated for 16 more years than this blog has been around.

So that takes it down to The Sacred Band and The Master of the House of Darts. Now I can flip a coin.

I don't believe it. It landed on its side.

The Master of the House of Darts and The Sacred Band are both my October YetiPicks of the Month.

Don't look at me like that, what did you think was going to happen when I posted two covers up there?

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: Fortunately, while everyone else was playing "Shut Up and Finish Your Trilogy," only Drew Magary and Corwin Ericson were in catch-up mode, trying to claim a readership of their own. That means there are only two debuts to choose between, a much more manageable number.

While neither is perfect, in both books the positives outweigh the negatives by a wide margin. I'd feel comfortable recommending either to any of you freaks whose to-read lists haven't yet hit triple digits. Both books contain a certain level of satirical absurdity, although more so in Swell. For the most part, The End Specialist tries to draw logical conclusions from illogical premises; Swell feels no such obligation.

In the end, I'm giving the nod to Swell, mostly for its playful prose and unique brand of absurdity. While The End Specialist does offer a fresh perspective on the "end-of-death" scenario, the concept of "post-mortality" itself is one I've seen before through a number of different lenses. These days I find myself more and more drawn away from traditional genre topics and toward the unpredictable and entertaining. Swell, my YetiStomper Debut of the Month, is exactly that.

YetiStomper Cover Of The Month: Maybe I should just stop pretending I'll post these. It's not like I'm already a month behind in my YetiPicks...

As always, if you are interested in more detail regarding any of the above books, just click on through the Amazon links. And don't worry, thanks to new state legislation, I don't get a single penny, nickel, or dime from it. It's been hard restructuring my budget without that extra $10 a year but I think I'll survive. Be sure to let me know if there is anything I may have missed in the comments.

You can view previous installments of YetiStomper Picks here.

Nov 8, 2011

Rape or Be Raped? House-slaves?

Those are some pretty loaded groups of words. So loaded in fact, that one might assume any logical individual would be aware that by using them to describe something as unremarkable as different methods of publishing, they were going to cause a stir.

And who wants a stir?

Surely not a self published author who is responsible for marketing his or her own work without the help of a large publicity department. Why would they use inflammatory language if they knew it would lead to a bunch of people talking about them and posting links back to their website? The same website that they use to sell books. I just don't get it.

And futhermore, in the off chance that a self published author wanted people to find their way back to his or her blog, it would require that author, someone whose entire means of living is dependent on his or her ability to string words together in a manner that evokes something in the person who reads them, to be capable of picking words to generate a specific reaction. Impossible, right?

I really hope you see where I'm going with this by now.

Much like the Westboro Baptist Church, the best way to stop these people from saying "irrational" things is to stop paying attention to them when they do.

And if you're having trouble doing just that, may I suggest Unpossible by Daryl Gregory or The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin as a better use of your time.

How do I know they're worth reading? They came from REAL publishers.


Oct 28, 2011

Covering Covers: Red Shirts - John Scalzi (with blurb)

Cover Designer: Peter Lutjen

Earlier this morning, Tor debuted the cover to John Scalzi's next project, REDSHIRTS. I received a call from a Tor employee shortly thereafter.

Tor: So what do you think about the cover?

Me: My opinion? I can't wait to read this book.

Tor: The cover makes you want to read the book?!?.

Me: Oh you wanted my opinion on the cover?It's alright I guess. It's kind of boring. But it doesn't really matter, I just want to read this book.

Tor: Yes, we understand that it's Scalzi. Everyone loves Scalzi. That's why we bought it. But we're asking you about the cover art. We don't just conduct probably fictional interviews with amateur bloggers to predict that a NYT Bestseller's book will do well. We employ an expensive sales team to do that.

Me: An expensive sales team? To predict if the next John Scalzi novel will be a bestseller? That seems a little overkill.

Tor: Well it's not that expensive. Besides we are publishing the next John Scalzi novel, that's going to sell like a gazillion copies. We can afford it.

Me: I'm not sure that's the best way to think about it. Wait, did you say "a gazillion copies"?

Tor: Yeah. I've got the sales report right here. [Sound of papers being moved around]

Me: I'll take your word for it. Listen, can I just talk to Irene Gallo?

Tor: Who's Irene Gallo?

Me: [silence]

Tor: Still there?

Me: Yes. But I'm starting to doubt this is a real call.

Tor: No, I'm really part of the Art Department. I can prove it!

Me: How?

Tor: I'll send you the alternate versions of the REDSHIRTS cover.

Me: You mean these?

Tor: Oh have you already seen those?

Me: Yeah, I love the 1st alternates. The 3rd isn't bad either. I think they're actually better than the final cover which, frankly, doesn't do a lot for me.

Tor: But I thought you said you liked the cover.

Me: No, I said I wanted to read the book. There's a difference.

Tor: Does that mean you're not going to buy it? I'll go get the sales team to rerun the numbers. We should have them by Thursday next week. We'll have to get Sanderson to write another book to pay for it, but I think he can have that to us by Wednesday if I catch him before he leaves.
Me: [facepalm] Let's move on. Is there anyway I could see the blurb?

Tor: [Clears throat]

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn’t be better...until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed. Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is...and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
Did you get all that?
Me: Is there anyway you could just send it to me?

Tor: How? Like in the mail? I'm not allowed to buy stamps anymore.

Me: Wait what? Could you just e-mail it to me.

Tor: E-what?


Tor: Hello? Hello? ........... Hey Irene, I told you I could get a fanboy to willingly give up on an interview with me. I prefer 2-liters and thick cut, maple glazed, thanks.

Oct 25, 2011

Books Received

Here are the last ten books I've received over the past few weeks. Very excited to read them, especially Unpossible and The Killing Moon. Errr... I don't think I was supposed to talk about that one.


Oct 18, 2011

Covering Covers: The Coldest War - Ian Tregillis (with blurb)

Cover Artist: Chris McGrath

So I've got a new policy around here. Keep everything in draft status until someone scoops me, and then get frustrated and post nothing. It's working like a charm so far.

Either way, in the off chance that you haven't seen it yet, here's the new cover art and catalog copy for the sequel to 2010's excellent Bitter Seeds which was so good that I don't really want to be friends with you if you haven't read it.

Now, I wasn't in love with the original cover art (below left) of Bitter Seeds but I admired the distinctive style. And who doesn't like swastikas? Update: Apparently everyone. Now we've got Chris McGrath stepping in once again to "fix" something that really wasn't broken. But don't get me wrong, the new cover (below right) isn't terrible, I just didn't think a change was warranted. I think had they stuck to the original style, they could have done something really subtle yet cool.

My meaningless opinions aside, here's the aforementioned copy:
Someone is killing Britain's warlocks.
Twenty-two years after the Second World War, a precarious balance of power maintains the peace between Great Britain and the USSR. For decades, Britain's warlocks have been all that stands between the British Empire and the Soviet Union—a vast domain stretchin from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the English Channel. But each death is another blot blow [oops... corrected 16 Oct 11] to Britain's national security.
Meanwhile, a brother and sister escape from a top-secret research facility deep behind the Iron Curtain. Once subjects of a twisted Nazi experiment to imbue ordinary people with superhuman abilities, then prisoners of war in the immense Soviet research effort to reverse-engineer the Nazi technology, they head for England.
Because that's where retired spy Raybould Marsh lives. And Gretel, the mad seer, has plans for him.
As Marsh is once again drawn into the world of Milkweed, he discovers that Britain's darkest acts didn't end with the war. And while he strives to protect queen and country, he is forced to confront his own willingness to accept victory at any cost.
Seriously, if you haven't read Ian Tregillis's first book in the Milkweed Triptych, you're really missing out on the start of something incredible. You might think the WWII "British Demons vs. Nazi Supermen" genre doesn't have any stories left to tell, but if so, you're dumb. Fortunately, thanks to a-series-of-unfortunate-but-not-at-all-comical-but-equally-delay-inducing-events you'll have plenty of time to catch up while the rest of us eagerly await the next collision of sorcerers, spies, and seers amidst one form of global chaos or another.

The Coldest War will be published by Tor in July of 2012.


Oct 4, 2011

Call for Comments: What 2012 DEBUTS are you anticipating?

We are rapidly approaching the end of the year. Which means two things: looking back and looking forward. I like to maintain more of a future-focused blog, so I'd like to hear what NEW authors you are looking forward to reading in 2012 so I can better direct my research and pieces in the coming months.

Well, minions, what say you? What new authors are you most anticipating next year?

Oct 3, 2011

Twitter Followers: A Graph

To those of you who fall into the "green" category - Thank You. You're the people I wanted to talk to when I started this bastion of mediocrity I call a blog and you're the main reason I'm still trying to keep with it.

To everyone else...well, you won't be reading this anyway...

Sep 29, 2011

YetiStomper Picks for September

Sorry Yetifans. I know this is late. Really late. Legendarily late. Or as I like to call it, "exactly on yeti standard time." To be truthful, I was doing a little experiment. I've suspected for months that io9 takes my YetiStomper Picks, subtracts one book, adds another and then claims that it as their own "original" picks for the month. I originally became suspicious when they copied my selection of A Dance With Dragons as a "highly anticipated" book. Bastards...

But it turns out, when I didn't post my selections this month, neither did they. That and my tinfoil hat prevented them from looking directly into my brain. Reynold's Wrap, humanity would be lost without you.

Or I was just a lazy ball of blogger this month. Your pick. Either way, better late than never, right?

Reamde - Neal Stephenson

Stand Alone, Book - As prolific as some writers are, Stephenson might put them all to shame. Less than a year after the hernia inducing Anathem, we've got another kilopage tome to get us through the winter months. Both as reading material and combustible fuel. And if a thousand pages a year doesn't impress you enough, bear in mind that Stephenson writes his novels longhand. Reamde is the latest entry in a new wave of MMORPG-centric cyberpunk thrillers which blend all aspects of twenty first century culture into a reality spanning epic. You know - billionaires, hackers, organized crime, terrorists, computer viruses, twitter - the usual.  Early reviews are calling it Stephenson's most accessible book yet - but is that a good thing? (September 20 from William Morrow)

Ganymede - Cherie Priest

The Clockwork Century, Book 4 - The first of two Cherie Priest books due out this month, Ganymede continues chronicling The Clockwork Century, a steampunk alternate American timeline in which the Civil War was never won and the West was never tamed. The titular Ganymede is a mysterious submarine that could finally end the decades long war in the North's favor, if only they could figure out how to use it. Andan Cly is the man whose been tasked to do just that, provided it doesn't kill him first. Personally, I'm getting a little bit tired of steampunk but The Clockwork Century is a series that has me hooked through til the end.  (September 27 from Tor)

Goliath - Scott Westerfeld

The Leviathan Trilogy, Book 3 - Okay, maybe I spoke too soon. Like Ganymede, Scott Westerfeld's steampunk series showcases a historic war with a steampunk slant. In the Leviathan Trilogy, it's World War I all over again but nothing like you the one you learned about it school. Now the Allied Powers pit genetically engineered "Darwinist" creations against walking mechanized monstrosities fielded by the Central Powers. Goliath follows young protagonists Deryn and Alek as they continue their mysterious mission around the world, stopping in Japan before heading to New York for the climatic conclusion of Westerfeld's YA trilogy. I'm about 10 years out of the YA target demographic but that doesn't make this series any less fun. If you're looking for something you can read along with your kids, Westerfeld is your guy. (September 20 from Simon Pulse)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson

The Fire and Thorns Trilogy, Book 1 - I don't always read debut YA fantasy novels about princesses but when I do they better be worth reading. Fortunately, Rae Carson can deliver the goods. With a strong female lead, clever supporting cast, and mature yet effortless prose, Carson's take on world spanning fantasy represents the future of YA fiction. Carson has already been compared to the likes of Turner and Cashore; don't be surprised if new authors are labeled as "the next Rae Carson" in a few years. (September 20 from Greenwillow)

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

Stand Alone - Are creepy circuses (circii?) the new vampires zombies steampunk? Just when I thought Genevieve Valentine was a lock for "best debut circus and/or vaudeville themed novel of 2011," Erin Morgenstern comes out of nowhere with another atmospheric tale more than worth the price of admission. Morgenstern's dark and moody debut has earned starred reviews from every legit source I've ever heard of (and several I haven't). Le Cirque des Reves features two rival magicians - and if they're not careful - for a limited time only. (September 13 from Doubleday)

Debris - Jo Anderton

The Veiled Worlds, Book 1 - Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, correct? Such is the station of futuristic pionner Tanyana, a woman with the ability to manipulates the building blocks of matter itself. At least until she is framed for an accident she didn't commit. Can a technoalchemist ever catch a break? Angry Robot brings us another fantastic debut as Anderton produces a breakneck novel on the driving strength of her first person perspective. (September 27 from Angry Robot)

Spellbound - Blake Charlton

The Spellwright Trilogy , Book 2 - Upstart novelist / medical student / professional shame shaman Blake Charlton returns to make you feel like an abject failure [but I'm at least the 121,594th best book blogger out there!] with the second volume of his Spellwright Trilogy. While he's not saving lives, Dr. Charlton relaxes by penning his own take on traditional fantasy. The Spellwright series focuses on Nicodemus Weal, complete failure and/or the only one who can stop the demonic Typhon from devouring human language itself. Well that's okay, we can just play charades right? Wrong. Language serves as the foundation of Charlton's complex and highly original magic system, so its annihilation might cause a few problems. Problems that Weal himself is intimately familiar with - a demonic curse (guess who) has prevented him from stringing a simple magical sentence together without chaotic consequences since an early age. But don't let the thinly veiled dyslexia metaphor stop you, Spellbound is fantasy at his finest. I would, however, recommend starting with Spellwright (Book 1) to get the full effect. (September 13 from Tor)

Hellbent - Cherie Priest

The Cheshire Red Reports, Book 2 - How funny is it that there are two books this month by different authors both named Cherie Priest? You would think that they would pick different pen names. I mean, one is writing about airships, smugglers, and steampunk submarines; the other is writing about vampire thieves, cross dressing ex-Navy SEALs, and ancient penis parts. That Venn diagram looks like a solar system map of Mercury and Pluto. [Is to a planet!]. And by that I mean there's no overlap. Except for me. Oh, and whoever likes good stories. Like the one that Cherie Priest #2 started with her highly entertaining "Chesire Red Reports" back in January's Bloodshot. With unforgettable characters, potentially gratuitous levels of violence, and "wit" that's one smart-ass comment away from being full blown snark, Hellbent demonstrates that you don't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to urban fantasy; you just need to make it well rounded, get it moving and run some stuff over. Between Hellbent and Ganymede, good luck picking which Priest to worship. Unless they are by freak occurrence the same person. But that would just be weird.

Update: I'm an idiot. (September 6 from Spectra)

One Salt Sea - Seanan McGuire

October Daye, Book 5 - Multi-pseudonymous author Seanan McGuire continues her series of faerie tales with One Salt Sea in which protagonist October "Toby" Daye is forced to investigate the disappearance of some random but important merkids in order to prevent a war between air and water. Or as faerie folk like to call it, your typical Tuesday. McGuire continues to expand the world governed by Oberon's Laws, both in scope with the introduction of the realm of Saltmist and in depth with an increased focus on Daye's supporting cast of characters. In the paranormal realm, Jim Butcher owns wizards, Charlaine Harris commands vampires, and  Carrie Vaughn controls werewolves. As these books continue to improve, it's clear that Seanan McGuire has claimed the fae as her own with ironclad certainty. My only question is why is Daye still doing grunt work? She's a freaking Countess now. What good are titles if they don't come with minions? (September 6 from DAW)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: Some authors are everywhere. They're blogging their fingers off. They're doing interviews for anyone and everyone with a question worth asking. They're writing guest posts for John Scalzi, and whichever bloggers need to take time out of their posting schedules to feed their families. They're engaging readers through twitter, facebook, and geocities. They're mailing out review copies on their own dime. They're traveling around their region of the country doing two signings a day out of the back of their 1996 Pontiac Grand Prix. All while writing the next book and keeping the day job. These are the authors who make the genre what it is, an writhing tangle of nervous energy devoted to the goal of capturing a reader's imagination and doing all kinds of unspeakable things to it.

But there are also authors who are willing to let their work speak for itself and who don't give a frak if you understand it, much less like it. Authors who are willing to write a trillion bazillion words about the origins of calculus, the common problems of 17th century European adventurers, and how the modern banking system came to be because they found numismatic history to be interesting while doing research for their equally tome-tacular cryptogasmic opus. And then to follow that up with Anathem, as if they were doing their publisher a favor with a book that takes a tree and a half to print. It takes a special kind of author to do that. It takes Neal Stephenson to do all that and still hit #1 on the NYT Bestseller List. Reamde might be Stephenson's most accessible book yet but anyone familiar with his work knows that's not necessarily saying much. At the same time, saying the name Stephenson is enough for me - which is why Reamde is my YetiStomper Pick of the Month. Not that he would care.

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: The Woman Who Hates Everything Gazette. Americans Against Fictional Clowns Quarterly. The One Guy Who Liked Twilight Suicide Note. That's it.

That's the full list of publications who didn't give The Night Circus a starred review. It's a hell of lot shorter that the list of people who did. I originally tried typing that out which is what is responsible for my Books of September Post going up on the 29th rather than the 1st of the month. Apparently Google has a character limit, who knew?

Anyway, Morgenstern completely and utterly delivers on the hype and then some, resulting in a novel on par with such memorable debuts as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and The Time Traveler's Wife. It's stylistic, brilliant, moody, evocative and a hell of a lot better than any first novel has any right being. Read The Night Circus, September's YetiStomper Debut of the Month. I dare you to disagree.

YetiStomper Cover Of The Month: Hmmmm.... Where did this go? Stay tuned to find out...eventually

As always, if you are interested in more detail regarding any of the above books, just click on through the Amazon links. And don't worry, thanks to new state legislation, I don't get a single penny, nickel, or dime from it. It's been hard restructuring my budget without that extra $10 a year but I think I'll survive. Be sure to let me know if there is anything I may have missed in the comments.

You can view previous installments of YetiStomper Picks here.

Sep 27, 2011

In Which I Disguise Self Interest As Compassion


I want you to give Tobias Buckell money. Not because he deserves it (he does). Not because he needs it (I'm sure he wouldn't say no). Not even because he got a raw deal when his publisher decided not to continue publishing his Xenowealth books (those bastards!)

You should give Tobias Buckell money because I want to read his next Xenowealth book and I won't be able to do it unless other people contribute to his Kickstarter. This may appear to be a nice post about contributing to a worthy author, but make no mistake, it's not. It's a shameless plug for me to get what I want: a sequel to Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose. And to do that, I need you to contribute to the Kickstarter account for the 4th Xenowealth book,  The Apocalypse Ocean. And don't try to pull any of that "the rest of the loyal YetiStomper minions will pick up the slack" nonsense. I've got like 14 readers, total, and only one is ugly enough to be considered minion-esque. So when I say you, I mean you, not them, do you understand me?

There are various tiers of patronage each of which will buy you a continually more impressive book package. Tier 1 is an eBook, Tier 2 is a Hardcover + eBook, and so and so forth, up to Tier 26 after which he will name his next child whatever you want for a mere $2,426,982. He's looking to get $10,000 in seed contributions and currently sitting at around 45% of that total.

So I'm asking you, as an unapologetically self-interested fan of Buckell's work, to help make The Apocalypse Ocean a reality. You can do it because Buckell is a good author and he writes stuff worth reading. Or maybe you're the human personification of a Care Bear Stare, and want to make sure his family "gets enough food to eat", whatever that means. Or make up your own reason: whatever gets you to give Tobias Buckell money.

This is me asking you nicely. There are still 21 days left to give Tobias Buckell money. If it gets down to a week and one of your pets and/or smaller children happens to "mysteriously disappear," you can probably figure out how to get them back.

I'm joking, of course. Besides it won't even come to that. Will it....

Oh, and in case you missed the link which I so subtly dropped throughout the flowing genius word assemblage above. Here it is again. There's even a cool video and junk. And if Kickstarter works the way it's suppossed to, you should see a status bar right down here.

Note: if you read this sentence before you see a Kickstarter widget - damnit.

Sep 2, 2011

Covering Covers: Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway

io9 has the scoop on Nick Harkaway's next novel, which according to the stellar black and yellow piece of design work above, is titled Angelmaker. Harkaway is best known for his debut novel, The Gone-Away World, which featured frequently on various "Best of" Lists back in 2010.

io9 supplemented their cover reveal with a pair of book blurbs, one long and one short.

The Teaser Trailer:
 is expected from Knopf sometime in early 2012, most likely March 20th.
From the author of the international best seller The Gone-Away World—a new riveting action spy thriller, blistering gangster noir, and howling absurdist comedy: a propulsively entertaining tale about a mobster's son and a retired secret agent who team up to save the world.

Joe Spork repairs clocks, a far cry from his late father, a flashy London gangster. But when Joe fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. Joe's client, Edie Banister, is more than just a kindly old lady—she's a former superspy. And the device? It's a 1950s doomsday machine. And having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie's old arch-nemesis. With Joe's once-quiet world now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses, girls in pink leather, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realizes that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father's old gun...
And the full 90 second spot:
All Joe Spork wants to do is live quietly. He repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. The bills don't always get paid and he's single and in his mid thirties and he has no prospects of improving his lot, but at least he's not trying to compete with the reputation of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, his infamous criminal dad.

Edie Banister lives quietly and wishes she didn't. She's nearly ninety and remembers when she wasn't. She used to be a spy, and now she's… well… old. Worse yet, the things she fought to save don't seem to exist anymore, and she's beginning to wonder if they ever did.

When Joe repairs one particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, his quiet life is blown apart. Suddenly he's getting visits from sinister cultists and even more sinister lawyers. One of his friends is murdered and it looks as if he may be in the frame. Oh, and in case that wasn't enough, he seems to have switched on a 1950s doomsday machine - or is it something even more alarming?

Edie's story and Joe's have collided. From here on in, nothing will be the same - Joe's world is now full of mad monks, psychopaths, villainous potentates, scientific geniuses, giant submarines, girls in pink leather engine driver's couture, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe - and if Joe's going to fix it or even survive, he must show that he can be everything Mathew was, and much, much more.
Looks like another winner from Harkaway. What do you think?

John Scalzi's Next Novel Gets A Title

From Whatever -

Redshirts: A Novel With 3 Codas. I know what you're thinking. However, Scalzi has already confirmed that it's not a Star Trek novel. Based on the title, I suspect it's intended to be quasi-humorous, if not to the same extent as Scalzi's excellent The Android's Dream.

Unfortunately, the title is all we've got to work with at the moment. Scalzi has read from the book at several conventions but Scalzi swore everyone to secrecy and surprisingly, no details have leaked out. Which is an incredible feat in and of itself.

Aug 20, 2011

Pick the Hugos!

I thought I'd throw out my predictions for tonight's Hugo Festivities which you can actually watch live at 8pm local Reno time here. [Note if that doesn't work, check the Hugo Award Site here for help]. I don't know enough about the editors, artists, semiprozines, to even hazard a less-than-informed guess so I'm limiting my picks to the major fiction categories. I'm also running out the door at the moment so I don't have the time to fully explain the rationale behind my picks. Feel free to make up some reasons for me.

Best Novel
  • Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
  • Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
  • The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
  • Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

What Should Win: The Dervish House
What Will Win: Blackout/All Clear

Best Novella
  • “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010) - Read Online
  • The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean) - Read Online
  • “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow) - Read Online
  • “The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010) - Read Online (PDF)
  • “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)
What Should Win: "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window"
What Will Win: "The Liefcycle of Software Objects"

Best Novelette
  • “Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010) - Read Online
  • “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010) - Read Online
  • “The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010) - Read Online
  • “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010) - Read Online
  • “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010) - Read Online
What Should Win: "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made" 
What Will Win: "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made"

Best Short Story

  • “Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010) - Read Online
  • “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010) - Read Online
  • “Ponies” by Kij Johnson (, November 17, 2010) - Read Online
  • “The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010) - Read Online
What Should Win: "The Things"
What Will Win: "For Want of a Nail"

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
  • Saladin Ahmed
  • Lauren Beukes
  • Larry Correia
  • Lev Grossman
  • Dan Wells
Who Should Win: Lauren Beukes
Who Will Win: Lauren Beukes

Who you got? Tune in tonight at 11pm EST to find out.

Aug 16, 2011

Covering Covers: The Kingdom of Gods - N.K. Jemisin

Cover Artist: Lauren Panepinto & Friends

Tuesday brings us another knock out from Lauren Panepinto & the fine folks in the Orbit Art Department, closing out N.K. Jemisin's The Inheritance Trilogy with a bang.

If I ever wrote a trilogy, I would love to get a set of covers as good as these. Also, if I ever wrote a trilogy, I would love to have it be as good as these books. If you haven't checked these books out, do yourself a favor and catch up before the final book comes out in October.
The incredible conclusion to the Inheritance Trilogy, from one of fantasy's most acclaimed stars.
For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri's ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.
Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family's interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for.
As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom -- which even gods fear -- is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens?
Includes a never before seen story set in the world of the Inheritance Trilogy.

Aug 11, 2011

YetiStomper Picks for August

I think I'm actually getting worse at this whole writing thing as I go along. Fortunately, these eight authors seems to know what they're doing.

Southern Gods - John Hornor Jacobs

Stand Alone - Remind me to never visit Arkansas. Any interest I may have had in visiting that fine state is now completely and utterly gone, thanks to genre newcomer John Hornor Jacobs. His debut horror novel, Southern Gods follows war veteran and hired hand Bull Ingram as he tracks down Ramblin' John Hastur, a blues player rumored to have made a deal with the devil himself. Jacobs mixes Lovecratian Horror, Americana, and sweet tea in a unique tale of obsession and redemption on par with the best horror has to offer. (July 26 from Night Shade Books)

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Stand Alone - If SDCC is known for one thing, it's the generation of hype. But geek love is often a fickle bitch, and she rarely leaves with the one who brought her. At this year's comic-con, one of the most talked about properties was Ready Player One, the debut novel from Fanboys director Ernest Cline. Cline offers hope to every geek by creating a world in which encyclopedic knowledge of twentieth century pop-culture isn't just acceptable - it's the key to unlocking untold power and riches within OASIS, the virtual utopia that has come to dominate life in 2044. This is a must read for any child of the 80s. (August 16 from Crown)

Low Town - Daniel Polansky

Low Town, Book 1 - Is historical urban fantasy a thing? It might be soon, if copycats latch on to Daniel Polansky's excellent noir fantasy debut. Magic and murder combine in a gritty adventure that should surprise fantasy fans, even those familiar with the darker tones the genre has adopted over the past few years. Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops . . . and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town. (August 16 from Doubleday)

The Urban Fantasy Anthology - Peter S. Beagle & Joe R. Lansdale, eds.

Urban Fantasy Anthology, duh. - With what appears to be the least boldly titled anthology since Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio edited Stories, Beagle and Lansdale prove that looks can be deceiving. Split into three parts, the surprisingly eclectic anthology examines each of the literary definitions that have been linked to the term "Urban Fantasy" over the years. Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, and Beagle himself contribute to the group of "Mythic Fiction" stories while Lansdale joins Holly Black and Tim Powers in composing tales of "Noir Fantasy." "Paranormal Romance" rounds out the trio of interpretations with contributions from heavy hitters Carrie Vaughn, Kelly Armstrong, and Patricia Briggs as well as YetiStomper favorite, Norman Partridge. Whatever you assumed this book would be, you're probably wrong. (August 15 from Tachyon Publications)

Kitty's Greatest Hits - Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Norville, Short Fiction Collection - Jim Butcher's Side Jobs and Charlaine Harris's A Touch of Dead have proved that the notion that "short fiction anthologies don't sell" doesn't exactly apply to NYT Bestselling Urban Fantasy Series. Now it's Carrie Vaughn's turn as Tor collects 14 of her Kitty Norville shorts in a single hardcover volume. (August 16 from Tor)

The Magician King - Lev Grossman

The Magician Series, Book 2 - Lev Grossman continues his meta-tacular dissection of fantasy tropes with The Magician King, a book that does for the quest fantasy what its predecessor, The Magicians, did for the coming-of-age tale. Grossman's self-aware series is perfect for those who wonder how a real person might react if they discovered an entire world hidden in the armoire. (August 9 from Viking Adult)

Bluegrass Symphony - Lisa Hannett

Short Fiction Collection - You might call Lisa Hannett's first collection "hard to find." I'd call it "a future collector's item." Published by Ticonderoga one hemisphere over and another down, Bluegrass Symphony highlights one of Australia's up-and-comers with 12 strange stories that will delight and disturb. (August 1 from Ticonderoga Publications)

The Black Lung Captain - Chris Wooding

Tales of the Ketty Jay, Book 2 - In the second of Wooding's adventurous tales, we return to the airship Ketty Jay and it's inscrutable captain, Darian Frey. Many people have drawn comparisons between Wooding's motley crew and that of the tragically canceled Firefly. I'd be hard pressed to disagree. (July 26 from Spectra)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: I've heard a lot of people harping on Lev Grossman. "He's a literary wolf in genre clothing." "The Magicians is a Harry Potter rip-off. And a bad one." "Isn't it funny how the book critic for Time magazine writes the same filth that they would never review." "He pushed my grandmother down the stairs. On her birthday." Okay, I might have made that last one up but for whatever reason, there's a vocal contingent of people out there hell bent on giving Grossman a bad name. Maybe they don't get his books. Maybe they're jealous. Maybe they see him as the enemy, the type of person who sits in a high castle and claims the Chabons, the Gaimans, and the Niffeneggers as his own. Grossman might work with the "establishment" day in and day out but he's more than willing to take off the tweed jacket to come play in the mud. But just because your idea of playing pretend involves more magic and less angsty introspection doesn't mean you enjoy a dirt sandwich. Grossman champions a combination of plot and purpose - the profound notion that books can say something worth saying and be worth reading, all at the same time. With The Magician King, my selection for YetiStomper Pick of the Month, Grossman continues his grim exploration of fantasy from within. After all, just because your life feels like a fairy tale doesn't mean you get to live happily ever after.

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: For a relatively calm month [Aside: when did 8 books become a "calm" amount?], there's still no shortage of debuts to choose between. Polansky [Low Town], Cline [Ready Player One], Jacobs [Southern Gods], and Hannett [Bluegrass Symphony] are all first timers and they've got plenty to be proud of. I'm really intrigued by Cline's premise - it sounds like a Cory Doctorow novel written by Scott Pilgrim or a Goonies reboot scripted by Charlie Stross - but at the same time, I've been burned by hype before. I'm definitely excited for the book but I can't in good faith give it top billing without having read a single word. Then there's the Wunderkind, Daniel Polansky, who at 26 has published one more book that I probably ever will. There's part of me that wants to eliminate Low Town on spite alone. Fortunately, I don't have to - as impressive a debut as Low Town is, it's outshined by the polished prose and seductive story contained in John Hornor Jacobs' premiere. The YetiStomper Debut of the Month, Southern Gods, is Chicken Fried Lovecraft - sheer terror breaded in mystery and malice and deep fried in the muggy backwoods of 1960s Arkansas. I dare you to take a bite and walk away without wanting more.

YetiStomper Cover Of The Month: Hmmmm.... Where did this go? Stay tuned to find out...eventually

As always, if you are interested in more detail regarding any of the above books, just click on through the Amazon links. And don't worry, thanks to new state legislation, I don't get a single penny, nickel, or dime from it. It's been hard restructuring my budget without that extra $10 a year but I think I'll survive. Be sure to let me know if there is anything I may have missed in the comments.

You can view previous installments of YetiStomper Picks here.

Aug 3, 2011

Covering Covers: The Fractal Prince - Hannu Rajaniemi

Cover Artist: Kekai Kotaki

"Jean le Flambeur, posthuman thief, is out of prison, but still not free. To pay his debts to Oortian warrior Mieli and her mysterious patron the pellegrini, he has to break into the mind of a living god. Planning the ultimate heist takes Jean and Mieli from the haunted city of Sirr on broken Earth to the many-layered virtual realms of the mighty Sobornost. But when the stakes of the pellegrini’s game are revealed, Jean has to decide how far he is willing to go to get the job done."
Kekai Kotaki is quickly becoming one of my favorite cover artists. Between The Quantum Thief, The Unremembered, and this gem his work is colorful without being cartoony, evoking a sense of action and adventure without resorting to spaceships or dragons. And anyone who has read the The Quantum Thief knows that's exactly how Rajaniemi operates. He's doesn't slow down, he doesn't explain, and he's not going to apologize.

Rajaniemi's style is difficult to explain. You read it and you like it, but you're not exactly sure what you read or why you like it. At least, not after the first time through. It's complex, peculiar, captivating, and just plain good.

Don't believe me? Have a sample from The Fractal Prince.

Drathdor the zoku elder liked to talk, and it wasn't that hard to get
him to explain what a Box was (without letting on that I had stolen
one from their zoku twenty years ago, of course).

Imagine a box, he said. Now put a cat in it. Along with a death
machine: a bottle of poison, cyanide, say, connected to a mechanism
with a hammer and a single atom of a radioactive element. In the
next hour, the atom either decays or not, either triggering or not
triggering the hammer. So, in the next hour, the cat is either alive
or dead.

Quantum mechanics claims that there is no definite cat in the box,
only a ghost, a superposition of a live cat and a dead cat. That is,
until we open it and look. A measurement will collapse the system into
one state or the other. So goes Schrödinger's thought experiment.

It is completely wrong, of course. A cat is a macroscopic system,
and there is no mysterious intervention by a magical observer
needed to make it live or die: just its interaction with the rest
of the Universe, a phenomenon called decoherence, provides the
collapse into one macrostate. But in the microscopic world --- for
qubits, quantum-mechanical equivalents of ones and zeroes --- the
Schrödinger's cat is real.

The Box contains trillions of ghost cats. The live cat states
encode information. A mind, even, a living, thinking mind. The Box
qubits have been rotated into a limbo state between nothingness and
existence. The mind inside would not notice anything--- a set of
quantum gates can let it continue thinking, feeling, dreaming. If it
stays inside, all is well. But if it tries to get out, any interaction
with the environment will bring the Universe down on it like a ton of
 bricks and collapse it into nothingness. Bad kitty, dead kitty.

"So what do you put in a Box like that?'' I asked Drathdor.

"Something very, very dangerous,'' he said.

Elegantly perplexing, no?

The Fractal Prince, the 2nd entry in The Quantum Thief trilogy, will be published on September 4, 2012 by Tor.
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