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.


  1. I like the idea of Bluegrass Symphony. I like works that are a bit disturbing.

  2. Ready Player One was really enjoyable to read. I was born a touch too late to really be a child of the 80s, but even I found myself grinning at a lot of the pop-culture references. I think it's the kind of book that can appeal to any geek over 20, really. Either way, it really was a fun read! Hope you enjoy it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...