Jun 7, 2011

YetiStomper Picks for June

June's slate is a curious one, full of questions and impracticalities.

Zombie books shouldn't work. The antagonists are brain-dead, dialogue is minimal, and the visual gore factor simply doesn't translate from the screen to the page. They shouldn't happen. Why then, does June bring us not one, but two, zombie novels? And even more curious, why are both of them fantastic?

Science Fiction is dead. Everyone knows it. We are stuck on this planet until we bleed it dry so why even bother speculating scientifically? And will someone please let James S. A. Corey know, whoever that is? I'd hate for him to try to save SF by himself. It's doomed.

Anthologies don't sell. If speculative fiction is a literary ghetto, then anthologies are the genre equivalent of the projects, housing all the poor disenfranchised short stories on the publisher dime. But if that's the case, how do you explain the Wild Cards and Bordertown books which have an impressive 29 installments and counting between them? Where do they keep coming from? And why?

What's going on? Doesn't anyone know anything?

As usual, I blame the authors.  Let's get started.

Raising Stony Mayhall - Daryl Gregory

Standalone - You might not know where GenRenaissance Author Daryl Gregory's fiction will take you next, but there's no denying that when you reach the destination, you'll have enjoyed the trip. Whether he's writing pulp demons, mutant noir, or zombie orphans, Gregory always strikes a delicate balance between humor, heart, and horror in his abstract exploration of what the word "family" really means. Raising Stony Mayhall is the third novel in Daryl Gregory's young career and he amazes once again in his narration of the the curious life of one Stony Mayhall. Mayhall was made an orphan during the the first zombie outbreak. Unfortunately for him, he was born to parents on the losing side. But can his adoptive human family keep him secret from the government that would destroy him? And what to do when you find your relatives aren't as (un)dead as you once thought? (June 28th from Del Rey)

Deadline - Mira Grant

Newsflesh, Book 2 - Somehow, someway, Campbell Award winning author Seanan McGuire manages to maintain an absurd level of quantity and quality in her work, publishing seven novels as two authors in under three years. McGuire's latest (written by alter ego Mira Grant) continues the zombie tale started in 2010's Hugo nominated Feed in which bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason set out to unravel the conspiracy behind a global pandemic in a world where viral information is the only defense against a viral hunger. (May 31 from Orbit)

Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey

The Expanse, Book 1 - And here I thought 2011 was supposed to be a good year for Fantasy. But with the last three months bringing readers Up Against It, Fuzzy Nation, The Quantum Thief, and now Leviathan Wakes, a veritable Sci-Fi revival appears to be in the works. James S. A. Corey is a pseudonym for a talented pair of writers: Yeti-favorite Daniel Abraham and relative newcomer Ty Francks. Together as Corey, they set out to remind the SF landscape that story and science aren't mutually exclusive. Hard without being immutable, Leviathan Wakes follows Captain Jim Holden and Detective Miller across the solar system as they pull on different threads of the same conspiracy. (June 28 from Orbit)

Chasing the Moon - A. Lee Martinez

Standalone - A. Lee Martinez is just one of those writers who experiences life on a different wavelength. Frequently starting with a concept past the point where other authors would draw the line, Martinez's fiction is absurd, hilarious, and, above all else, unpredictable. His latest, Chasing the Moon, sees a woman move into her dream apartment. Unfortunately for her, there are a couple of unadvertised tenants who are hellbent on making it less of a dream and more of nightmare. But even Vom the Hungering is a potential ally when the fate of the world is on the line. (May 25 from Orbit)

City of Ruin / Book of Transformations - Mark Charan Newton

Legends of the Red Sun, Books 2 and 3 - No matter what side of the pond you're on, June is a good month for fans of Mark Charan Newton. UK fans get The Book of Transformations, the third in Newton's popular Legends of the Red Sun series, while his US followers continue to play catch up with City of Ruin, the sequel to last year's Nights of Villjamur. Either audience will delight in Newton's capital-w Weird approach to fantasy as he expertly crafts another tale in one of his frequently troubled cities. (June 28 from Spectra)

The Final Evolution - Jeff Somers

Avery Cates, Book 5 - After failing to satisfy his personal vendetta in the four previous volumes, Cates' ongoing war with Canny Orel is finally coming to a head in the fifth (and final?) installment. But what price is Cates willing to pay to enact his revenge? Somers' cinematic cyberpunk stylings aren't for everyone but if you like gritty anti-heroes and fun, fast-paced science fiction, The Final Evolution is worth a look.

The Boy at the End of the World - Greg van Eekhout

Middle Grade SF Novel - Van Eekhout's 2nd middle grade novel (after the excellent Kid vs. Squid) is just as strong as the first, delivering an intelligent yet humorous story in a post-apocalyptic package. Fisher is, as far as he knows, the last living human on earth and he's determined to do what he can to change that, even if it means crossing the country with a robot guardian that makes C-3PO seem serene and a cloned woolly mammoth that answers to Protein. If you are looking for a book that will challenge your kids without exposing them to Twilight-esque perversions, The Boy at the End of the World is a great place to start. But don't take my word for it, go read what 10 year old Junior YetiStomper Keegan had to say on the subject in his review. And don't be surprised if you end up reading it as well. I did. (June 21 from Bloomsbury)

Mistification - Kaaron Warren

Standalone - If Angry Robot is determined to bring about a robotic revolution, they are going about it the wrong way. Rather than stockpiling ammunition or energy sources, they seem determined to snap up all the fleshy faced writing talent they can find. One of their deadliest weapons, Kaaron Warren, still owes me several hours worth of sleep after her profoundly good but equally disturbing debut novel, Slights. Later this month, our future robot overlords are unleashing the Astonishing Australian on an unsuspecting populace once again. Mistification, her third novel, tells the story of a stage magician who can't do a single trick, mostly because his magic is completely real. Besides entertaining audiences, Marvo is responsible for shielding the rest of humanity from the unfathomable experience of undiluted reality. Dark, moody, and magnificent, Warren is poised to put on a show.  (June 28 from Angry Robot)

Welcome to Bordertown - Holly Black & Ellen Kushner, eds.

Bordertown Anthologies, Book 5 - After a multi-year hiatus, Bordertown is once again open to tourists. Come visit B-town, a mysterious metropolis juxtaposed between "The World" and "The Elflands" where technology and magic coexist, but not without consequence. Old enough to legally drink,  the shared narrative world of Bordertown was originally conceived back in 1986 by Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold but the editing duties have been passed down to long time contributor Ellen Kushner and newcomer Holly Black. In Welcome to Bordertown, a new generation of writers is on display, many of which grew up on Bordertown books decades ago. This latest volume includes original work from Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, and well as series regulars Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, Charles de Lint and Windling herself. If you like Urban Fantasy, you owe it to yourself to see where it all started. (May 24 from Random House)

Wild Cards: Fort Freak - George R. R. Martin, ed.

Wild Cards Mosaic, Book 21 - It's a good summer to be GRRM. Hit TV show. Long awaited novel hitting shelves. Plus a handful of passion projects coming to fruition, including Fort Freak, the latest entry in the Wild Cards Mosaic. In case you weren't aware, the long running Wild Card Mosaic  is a series of shared world novels and anthologies written by a cornucopia of talented writers and [mostly] edited by George R. R. Martin himself. The books themselves are set in an alternate 20th century America in which 1% of the world's population was given superpowers, 9% horrible disfigurements and the remaining 90% an early grave. This particular volume concerns Fort Freak, Manhattan's Fifth Police Precinct, in which half the men are more than human and features David Anthony Durham, Ty Franck, Cherie Priest, and Melissa M. Snodgrass among others.  (June 21 from Tor)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: I have a love/hate relationship with books. There are so many good books worth reading. But there are SO MANY good books worth reading. But even among June's decathlon of worthy selections, a few titles stand out. Mark Charan Newton [The Book of Transformations] is writing some of the best (and weirdest) fantasy in the game. Mira Grant [Deadline] is looking to take over the entire industry, even if she has to write it herself. And then there are Daryl Gregory and Daniel Abraham, two palindromic authors who are both FTW and WTF. As in "That book was FTW, WTF haven't you read it yet?" In the end, it comes down to these two: Gregory for his cold skinned but warm hearted Raising Stony Mayhall and Abraham (along with Ty Francks) for their "hard without being hard to read" space opera, Leviathan Wakes. As always, it's a tough call. Book books are outstanding and all three authors are promising talents who could use whatever small support my mention provides. Ultimately, I'm going with Gregory's Raising Stony Mayhall as my YetiStomper Pick of the Month for reasons that should be clear in about one paragraph.

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: Ok, I'm cheating a little. I couldn't really decide between Raising Stony Mayhall and Leviathan Wakes. Read them both if you can. Fortunately, James S. A. Corey is at least partially a debut author (even if the Daniel Abraham half of him isn't) which means I can still give Leviathan Wakes top billing as the YetiStomper Debut of the Month. It was also the only [kinda] debut novel this month. So it both deserved recognition enough to make an exception and won by default. If that makes any sense. Please post in the comments if you know of any other worthy debut contenders even if it means putting them up against the Leviathan itself. Otherwise, go read Leviathan Wakes and Raising Stony Mayhall. The order doesn't matter, just that you read them. And/or any of the great books on this list.

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

Anyway, as always, if you are interested in more details 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.


  1. Wow! I'm honored, man. But more importantly, I now have a list of other books to read. Already inhaled Greg van Eekhout's BOY, so only 8 more to go.


  2. I loved both Pandemonium and Devil's Alphabet, so Stony Mayhall is a must read for me. When exactly I'll get around to it I don't know, but I'm definitely excited for it.

    I'm not usually a sci-fi guy, but Leviathan Wakes might be the book that gives me a fresh clean start into the space opera genre.


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