Mar 1, 2010

YetiStomper Picks for March

I haven't had much time to post here over the past week. Just my luck that March offers an absurd amount of good books to check out, regardless of which subgenre you are looking for.

Spellwright - Blake Charlton

Spellwright Trilogy, Book 1 - March 2nd marks the release of Blake Charlton's debut novel from Tor. Spellwright, the first book in his highly anticipated fantasy trilogy, has a lot of good buzz, particularly how Charlton reuses fantasy tropes in ways that feel modern while showing a respect for the rich history of fantasy. Charlton is one of the 25 authors on my 2010 worth watching list so Spellwright is a book I've been tracking for a while. The other thing I keep seeing mentioned is the originality and strength of the word/language based magic system which is heavily influenced by Charlton's personal struggle with dyslexia. Spellwright is a fantasy novel by an author who grew up reading (and loving) fantasy novels.

Pinion - Jay Lake

Clockwork Earth, Book 3 - If you like your fantasy a little bit more steampunk, check out Jay Lake's Clockwork Earth series. Pinion, the third book in the series, is out from Tor this month and features a return to the world of Mainspring and Escapement in which the world is merely a cog in a giant clockwork mechanism. High adventure in an extremely imaginative world, this series mixes traditional epic fantasy with alternate history in a steampunk package. Jay Lake was one of the original Keeping An Eye On authors, and I'd highly recommend this series for anyone looking for an original fantasy world.

The Sorcerer's House - Gene Wolfe

I don't know too much about Wolfe's latest novel but I do know it's by Gene Wolfe which should be good enough for any self-respecting fan of fantasy. This appears to be more along the lines of magic realism than traditional fantasy, detailing a recent parolee's encounters in a mysterious mansion and how it influences his family and friends. I'm assuming this would be a good book for anyone who likes their fantasy a little bit more literary than pulp.

Winning Mars - Jason Stoddard

Turning from fantasy into science fiction, we have Winning Mars, a very interesting near future Hard SF book concerning the conquest of Mars and the reality TV show that funds it. Stoddard, another of my Keeping An Eye On authors, works in alternative media marketing so his vision of a financially viable trip to Mars should be extremely thought provoking from both a scientific and economic perspective. Stoddard originally published a version of Winning Mars in Interzone a while back but he's cleaned it up and this is your first opportunity to get your hands on the revised story.

Gardens of the Sun - Paul McAuley

Sequel to The Quiet War. I had mixed feelings on The Quiet War (full review) but the Hard SF worldbuilding was strong enough for me to note the release of McAuley's follow up. Some of the major issues I had with The Quiet War concerned characterization so I hope to see some more development and active roles for the main cast. The Quiet War felt like the first half of a longer book so it will be interesting to see if we get the second half of a larger story or something else entirely.

Zendegi - Greg Egan

If solar system exploration isn't your thing but you still are looking for some more terrestrial SF, look no further than Greg Egan's near future virtual thriller Zendegi. The titular world, Zendegi, is a virtual environment poised to become the next global battlefield. From what I've read of the descriptions, this appears to be similar to some of Charles Stross's or Cory Doctorow's more recent near-future thrillers.

Changeless - Gail Carriger

The Parasol Protectorate, Book 2 - No SF, no traditional fantasy, on to the Urban Fantasy recommendations. Gail Carriger's first book in the Parasol Protectorate, Soulless, was well reviewed despite flying under the radar and there is no denying that Carriger is doing something unique. Writing in a Victorian setting with both gothic and steampunk elements, Carriger details the exploits of Alexia Tarabotti as she deals with vampire, werewolves, and the scariest thing of all: high society etiquette. Advertised as quirky and humorous, this appears to be a lot more than the latest Dresden or Stackhouse knock-off.

Werewolf Smackdown - Mario Acevedo

Felix Gomez, Book 5. - Sex, violence, and the supernatural. While these are your traditional urban fantasy staples, Acevedo's Felix Gomez books make them fun again. Fast-paced and pulpy, the latest of Gomez's adventures has him caught in the middle of a pair of werewolves positioning themselves to be leader of the pack.

A Local Habitation - Seanan McGuire

October Daye, Book 2 - Seanan McGuire's debut came highly recommended from a few authors whose work I enjoy and I came aware impressed enough to dip back into her urban fantasy series for seconds. October Daye is part human, part fae and all badass. I spoke previously about the use of settings in Urban Fantasy and McGuire's supernatural San Francisco is a well crafted stage for her morally ambiguous cast of characters.

Warriors - George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (editors)

Want some fantasy but don't know who to read? Martin's Warriors anthology presents new tales from several genre giants (including a new ASOIAF tale from Martin himself) including Diana Gabaldon (Lord John), David Weber, Peter S. Beagle, Gardner Dozois, Joe Haldeman, Robin Hobb, Naomi Novik, James Rollins, Robert Silverberg, S.M. Stirling, Carrie Vaughn, and Tad Williams. Focusing on warriors in every sense of the word, this anthology is most likely going to introduce you to an author or two you will want to read more of.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 4 - Jonathan Strahan (editor)

Even more undecided? Check out Strahan's latest Night Shade Books Best of anthology for the latest and greatest SFF stories. I have a special place in my heart for Dozois's classic yearly best doorstopper but Strahan's first three volumes have been fantastic. The strength of Strahan's volume comes in the combination of SF and Fantasy, presenting the reader with the best of both worlds in a way that doesn't suffer from the repetitiveness that can plague hard SF anthologies.

The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2 - Ellen Datlow (editor)

Ellen Datlow is another one of the few editors I trust to provide me with a good story (along with Strahan, Dozois, and Lou Anders) and while I haven't read much horror, I'm trying to change that this year. Another Night Shade Books anthology, The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2, presents stories from names I've heard enough about to consider Authors Worth Watching (Nathan Ballingrud, Kaaron Warren, and John Langan) as well as former interview target Laird Barron.

So there you have it, something for everyone (unless you only read Hard SF Southern Gothic Murder Mystery Novels). I'm leaning toward Spellwright for my YetiStomper Pick for March but pick which subgenre you like best and read accordingly. Anyway, as always, if you are interested in more details regarding any of the above books, just click on through the Amazon links. I'm more interested in telling you why I recommended them rather than simply what the books are about. out there. Let me know if there is anything I may have missed in the comments. And which one of these covers is your favorite?

You can view previous installments of YetiStomper Picks here


  1. Well, dammit: Hard SF Southern Gothic Murder Mystery Novels is just my fave genre ever *sigh*

    I like your March picks - Spellwright is one I am currently working through (finding it harder than regular books because I have it in electronic format, which I confess right now to not enjoying - Spellwright itself is great!)

    I have my eye on Changeless as well, since I picked up Soulless recently. I'll probably do a back-to-back read of these two as soon as I can manage :-)

  2. The blurb on Zendegi is completely different from the one on BookDepository-
    Nasim is a young computer scientist, hoping to work on the Human Connectome Project: a plan to map every neural connection in the human brain. But funding for the project is cancelled, and Nasim ends up devoting her career to Zendegi, a computerised virtual world used by millions of people. Fifteen years later, a revived Connectome Project has published a map of the brain. Zendegi is facing fierce competition from its rivals, and Nasim decides to exploit the map to fill the virtual world with better Proxies: the bit-players that bring its crowd scenes to life. As controversy rages over the nature and rights of the Proxies, a friend with terminal cancer begs Nasim to make a Proxy of him, so some part of him will survive to help raise his orphaned son. But Zendegi is about to become a battlefield ...


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