Oct 31, 2010

YetiStomper Picks for November

Insert witty comment here. Bottom line: A mix of reprints and new books this month features several promising up-and-comers.

Echo - Jack McDevitt

Alex Benedict, Book 5 - One of the few authors steadfastly proving that Science Fiction is not dead yet, McDevitt returns to his Alex Benedict character after last year's stand alone, Time Travelers Never Dies. The Benedict books are a Space Opera Noir of sorts focusing on Alex as he tries to unravel a conspiracy of galactic proportions or discover the true history behind a drifting wreck. McDevitt's will inspire recollections of some of Asimov's SF mysteries but offers superior characters and sharper prose. (November 2 from Ace)

ElfSorrow - James Barclay

Legends of the Raven, Book 1 - Pyr continues their trend of British imports with Elfsorrow, the first book in Barclay's second Raven trilogy. (The first trilogy, Chronicles of The Raven was also republished by Pyr.) The Raven is the collective name for a band of mercenaries who live by a ethical code seemingly inspired by Alexander Dumas. It's action-packed sword and sorcery fiction at it's finest as The Raven face a mysterious disease is afflicting the elves of Barclay's fantasy land. (November 23 from Pyr)

Holiday - M. Rickert

Short Story Collection - M. Rickert is a name most people probably won't recognize and I'm sure she likes it that way. Rickert keeps an extremely low profile which is a shame given the quality of her writing. Rickert's first collection, Map of Dreams, is excellent and while I haven't read any of the holiday themed stories in her second, I imagine it would be more of the same. Rickert is willing to sit back and let her work speak for itself. And speak for itself it does.  (November 1 from Golden Gryphon)

Wild Cards I - George R.R. Martin and Others

Wild Cards, Book 1 - You could argue that the Wild Card series is more superhero than science fiction but there is no denying that there are a ton of stories in the shared world and that they are a lot of fun. George R.R. Martin and his compatriots have shepherded the series through eighteen or so entries creating a complex environment that is as deep as it is daunting. Fans looking for an entry point will be happy to know that Tor is rereleasing the hard to find first volume along with three brand new shorts. (November 23 from Tor)

Pirate Sun - Karl Schroeder

Virga, Book 3 - Another Tor reprint, Pirate Sun is the third book in Schroeder's criminally underread Virga sequence. The Virga books take place in a balloon like construct of massive scale (although not as big as Niven's Ringworld) which supports millions of souls who don't always get along. Schroeder's world is fantastic but for whatever reason the series didn't catch on around (Daniel Abraham anyone?). I'm glad to see that Tor is giving these books another go with a brilliant set of new covers. (November 9 from Tor)

The Broken Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin

The Inheritance Trilogy, Book 2 - Anyone who read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms earlier this year has been waiting for Jemisin's follow up for months. Jemisin is a pure storyteller in the vein of Neil Gaiman or Ursula K. Le Guin, conveying a world of complex divinity with clarity and emotion. It will be interesting to see what she does in her sophomore effort as The Broken Kingdom departs from the setting of 100K but continues within the same overall world. (November 3 from Orbit)

METAtropolis: Cascadia - Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, Ken Scholes, Mary Robinette Kowal

METAtropolis, Book 2 - The follow up to last years audio collection METAtropolis focuses on the Pacific Northwest for another round of dystopian fiction. Jay Lake takes over for John Scalzi as editor but with the addition of Scholes and Kowal, chances are the series won't miss a step. Inspired (or would dystopic be uninspired?) world building from some of the genre's best. You can find out everything you need to know here.  (November 16 from Audible.com)

Servant of the Underworld - Aliette de Bodard

Obsidian and Blood, Book 2 - Earlier this year I praised de Bodard for her unique approach to science fiction and the wonderful cultural details she weaves into her work. Much of De Bodard's early work focuses on the oft-ignored cultures of Central and South America, both in the past with her historical fantasy and in an alternate future with her Xuya stories. While UK fans have had this book on their shelves for over a year now, Angry Robot is just now debuting it across the pond. But this time US readers may have the edge on their British counterparts as they need only to wait a few months to get their hands on Harbinger of the Storm (Book 2). This is fantasy for anyone tired of all the medieval Europe analogs, all too common on today's shelves. (October 26 from Angry Robot)

The Horns of Ruin - Tim Akers

Stand Alone (tentative) - Marketed as "Steampunk", The Horns of Ruin seems to be expanding the boundaries of the subgenre. Regardless, this "sword and science" novel features a breakneck pace, loads of action, and an interesting world blending magic, science and religion in a melting pot of genre standards. It's a world where seemingly anything can happen and if often does. (November 2 from Pyr)

Towers of Midnight - Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan

Wheel of Time, Book 13 - Do I need to say anything? If you read this series, you will buy this book. If you aren't caught up, get reading, this is the second to last entry with the final book coming out in late 2011 or early 2012. If you have never heard of the Wheel of Time, get out. Now. (November 2 from Tor)

Vicious Grace - M.L.N. Hanover

The Black Sun's Daughter, Book 3 - The Black Sun's Daughter is one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series alongside Harry Dresden and Felix Castor. I was a little disappointed with the overall progress in the second volume but that disappointment is a testament to how much I want to know more about the secrets of Hanover's strange world of possession. I'm especially excited as Vicious Grace sees Jayne Heller and Co. visit my current home of Chicago to investigate mysterious disappearances beneath Grace Memorial. I hope I don't need to move... (November 30 from Pocket)

The House of Discarded Dreams - Ekaterina Sedia

Stand Alone - Sedia continues her trend of classification defying fiction with another imaginative tale. The sheer number of disparate elements can't be anything but surreal but Sedia somehow makes them work together. Sedia is the type of author that is claimed by both literary and genre circles, balancing prose and plot. The House of Discarded Dreams is likely to fall on more on the prose side of things but there is no denying that Sedia is a talent. (November 16 from Prime)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: A lot of people are excited for The Towers of Midnight and it's not hard to see why. Unfortunately, I got off the WoT bus around book 7 or 8 when the books kept coming with no end in sight so I'm not going to be ready to read it anytime soon. But I've been ready and waiting for Jemisin's follow up to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms since February. Which is why The Broken Kingdoms is my YetiStomper Picks of the Month.

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: I'm getting by on a bit of a technicality as Aliette de Bodard's debut novel has been out in the UK just over a year. But it's new in the US so Servant of the Underworld is my YetiStomper debut of the month, particularly if you are tired of Euro-centric historical fantasy.

YetiStomper Cover Of The Month: This is a hard decision. I love the John Harris cover of Echo. Tor's new Virga covers are eye-catching and finally match the quality of Schroeder's writing.  The House of Discard Dreams in striking if a bit text heavy. The Broken Kingdoms is blue and beautiful. My favorite changes each time I look at them but I keep coming back to Pirate Sun, which is why it gets cover of the month. And the Worst? I have to go with The Towers of Midnight. The Wheel of Time covers are about two decades out of date. I appreciate Tor's willingness to close out the series with continuous art (I wouldn't have it any other way) but there is no denying how dated it looks. Which one do you like most/least?

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. Let me know if there is anything I may have missed in the comments.

You can view previous installments of YetiStomper Picks here.

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