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.

Oct 27, 2010

Untitled Abercrombie Quadrilogy?

I was poking around Amazon.co.uk (for a to be disclosed reason) and I stumbled on this potential gem.
Untitled Abercrombie [1 of 4] - Paperback - Due out Sept 1 2012

Or something like this...

Now, Abercrombie is a big name hardcover caliber author (if not, he should be) so chances are that his future books wouldn't debut in paperback. But at the same time, Sept 1, 2010 is a long wait for his next book considering the extraordinary rate he has produced Best Served Cold and The Heroes. Independently, those two facts suggest this isn't a real book. But taken together, this could very well be a paperback release of a late 2011 Hardcover?

Take a look at the product description:
The First Law trilogy was Joe's take on the great epic fantasy tales. Then, in Best Served Cold, he took on a fantasy version of a classic revenge story, and we have a superb tale of war waged in the frozen north still to come. With this, his next novel, Joe Abercrombie is once again venturing in a new direction, and on a new adventure, with one of the most enduring, powerful and popular characters of the First Law trilogy. It's going to be their biggest challenge yet . . .
The description makes mention of The First Law Trilogy, Best Served Cold, and although not by name it refers to The Heroes as a superb tale of war waged in the frozen north. It seems pretty clear that The Heroes is not the "next novel" mentioned here. It promises a new direction and on a new adventure with one of the most enduring, powerful, and popular characters of the First Law. The Heroes takes place in the North (an old direction) and without any major characters (Black Dow barely qualifies) from The First Law. So it's pretty clear that this is a new book / set of books.

But centered on who?

The description is intentionally vauge. Their? Not his or her? There are only a few characters from The First Law that fit the provided description. I don't think it's Glotka or Jezal as they arleady have roles to play running the Union so I doubt they are going anywhere soon. A new direction and adventure could see Ferro exploring the heretical southern lands on her quest for vengeance. But I don't know if Ferro would count as enduring, powerful, and popular. That description suggests something else entirely...

Doth the Bloody Nine return?

Oct 26, 2010

In Case You Hadn't Noticed

I made a couple of changes around here.

The logo was provided by a certain graphic designer/photographer [Photographie 51] than I happen to be married to.


Covering Covers - The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi

Cover Artist: Kekai Kotkai

The US cover of Hannu Rajaniemi's highly touted debut has a remarkably different feel than it's UK counterpart [displayed below]. Nonetheless, I like them both, particularly the sharp lines of the lasers/light beams and the geometric style of the "wings." And the horizontal lines stagger throughtout are subtle but cohesive. There is an element of "hard science fiction as magic" in The Quantum Thief that I think this cover captures well. It's definitely not the typical spaceporn that is assigned to most SF. Ignoring the title, I could definitely buy this as new design work for the newest Final Fantasy Game. I don't know if that's a good thing or not but I think it's applicable.

The font treatment also reminds me of another SF cover but for the life of me I can't figure out which one. Any help?

UK edition

The Quantum Thief is out now in the UK from Gollancz and will be released by Tor in the US in May of 2011.
Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed . . .The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.

Oct 25, 2010

Books Received: Late September / Early October

Per usual the last month or so has seen no shortage of additions to the library. Click on through for the detailed list. 

Oct 21, 2010

Twisted Twitter: What Would Pac Man Read?

Over on twitter, Mark Charan Newton (@MarkCN) posted the rather innocent update:

Raiding Pan Mac's book shelves. Free stuff!
Of course, Pan Mac is Pan Macmillan, one of the UK's largest publishers. I would have known that immediately... had I read "Pan Mac".

What did I read?

Which prompted the question in my rarely logical mind:
What would Pac Man have on his bookshelf? What does Pac Man read?
My best guess is - ghost stories with colorful prose. What's yours?

Oct 20, 2010

eBook eConomics: 3 Tier Pricing

I'm starting the eBook eConomics series off with a rather simple strategy, not that different than the traditional model. I'll save the crazier stuff for later.

eBook eConomics 1: The 3 Tier Pricing Model

The Proposal: Create 3 tiers of pricing.

Tier 1 corresponds to the HC edition, marked down 50% from the cover price, between $10-$15. Be honest, when was the last time you bought a HC for list price?

Tier 2 is the Paperback edition, marked down to 50% from the inevitable $10 MMPB price to $5 flat. This would be available when the PB edition is released.

Tier 3 is the end-state version. Price drops again, this time to $2.  You could determine the Tier 3 event in several ways. You could wait until the MMPB run goes out of print. Or you could wait the same time between HC and PB releases. Or wait until the book sold X number of copies. Or keep a set number of books at each pricing level before moving them to the Tier 3 price.

  • High starting price will allow publishers to recoup the editing, marketing, and formatting costs.
  • Low final price shares the reduced distribution cost with readers
  • Low "long-tail" price will keep readers buying older books
  • Readers will be more likely join longer series due to low buy-in costs
  • High initial eBook prices don't subsidize the buy-in price for eReaders.
  • This approach could negatively impact backlist sales of paperback editions
  • Final price point would necessitate additional negotiation for royalty distribution.
  • Doesn't deviate from the traditional pricing model much
Verdict: Probably one of the most realistic approaches, especially if publishers are willing to trade high prices for more backlist sales. I know I would buy a lot of backlist books (particulary Hugo and Nebula award winners) if they were more affordable.

Oct 19, 2010

On Notice!

Several people have been pissing me off lately and I'm not going to sit around and take it. So I'm channeling my inner Stephen Colbert and declaring a few people ON NOTICE!

[Author's Note: Please read these "notices" in the light-hearted tone with which they were written]


  • Naomi Novik - You remain the only author (besides Karen Traviss who doesn't do interviews, whatsupwiththat?) who didn't participate in my Keeping An Eye On... series last year. Now I don't expect anyone to feel obligated to do an interview with me but Novik keeps taunting me with promises, going so far as to request questions from me a few months ago. Enough of this will you or won't you drama. This is not a sitcom romance. This is a serious, respectable, in-no-way-professional, amateur blog that likes to talk about books and with authors. Consider yourself on notice.
Obviously, someone stole
the axe owner's copy 

  • Anyone with an ARC of The Heroes - James from Speculative Horizons. Gav from NextRead. Niall from The Speculative Scotsman. Heck, even Joe Abercrombie himself. If you've already read The Heroes (my most anticipated book for early 2011), I've got a heaping helping of hate for you. It tastes like chicken. Angry chicken. The kind that is doesn't qualify for KFC Double Down consideration. The kind that has been pumped up with more steroids than the guy who broke Batman in half and then discovered that his hen was cooping up with The Situation.  
Not The Situation
  • China Mieville - You don't take on Facebook and win. You. Just. Don't. Especially when you also wrote Perdido Street Station and The City & The City. It's not safe to have that much awesome contained in human form. He's like a mortal version of Neil Gaiman. You better Spiderman that kind of influence. And please don't hurt me.

  • Who is this Sanderson guy?

  • Myself - I turned down an autographed, advance copy of a 1st edition hardcover of Towers of Midnight. What the hell was I thinking? And I used a Jersey Shore reference. Kill me now.

Oct 18, 2010

Everything You Need To Know About - Metatropolis: Cascadia

1) Tobias Buckell unveiled the audible.com "cover art" earlier today.

2) I still like mine better.

3) Metatropolis: Cascadia is comprised of 6 audio novellas set in the same shared dystopian future. Here is the table of contents:
  • THE BULL DANCERS by Jay Lake
  • WATER TO WINE by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • BYWAYS by Tobias S. Buckell
  • CONFESSOR by Elizabeth Bear
  • DEODAND by Karl Schroeder
4) John Scalzi (who contributed to and edited the original Metatropolis) was unable to participate in the sequel due to other commitments. He was replaced by the combination of Ken Scholes and Mary Robinette Kowal. The other four authors (Lake, Bear, Schroeder, and Buckell) remain the same.

5) There are several blurbs lying around, several of which you won't find anywhere else.

Overall anthology description:
“As the mid-21st Century approaches, the Pacific Northwest has been transformed — politically, economically, and ecologically — into the new reality of Cascadia. Conspiracies and secrets threaten the tenuous threads of society. The End of Days seems nearer than ever. And the legend of the mysterious Tygre Tygre looms large.”
From Jay Lake regarding "The Bull Dancers":
"The Bull Dancers" picks up the story of William Silas Crown, a minor character from "In the Forests of the Night", forty years later. He is an old man, dying of cancer, and still trying to understand what Tygre Tygre sought to teach the world in those tumultuous days before Cascadiopolis was bombed out of existence in a wide-area orbital strike. Crown's long term efforts to restore the power of free market capitalism have run aground on the success of the green cities that rose in the wake of the fall of Cascadiopolis. He is in a race against time to settle his legacy and find a resolution to some of the mysteries surrounding the life and death of Tygre Tygre before Crown's own ending claims him."
From Tobias Buckell regarding "Byways":
Reg Stratton is back running mysterious errands for the Mock Turtle. This time he's trying to discover someone with a plan to destroy a nuclear facility in the Pacific Northwest. But is everything what it seems?
From Mary Robinette Kowal regarding "Water to Wine"
Water to Wine is set in the Willamette Valley wine industry. Since my husband is a wine maker we've talked a lot about how if the climate trends continue, it won't be possible to grow wine grapes in California. I took that idea and ran with it. So basically, you have a Willamette Valley wine maker who is struggling to make wine.
From Elizabeth Bear regarding "Confessor":
Confessor is about a good cop and a bad cop, trying to crack an animal smuggling ring.
From Karl Schroeder teasing "Deodand":
Pathologically shy Ukrainian arms inspector Gennady Malianov has fetched up on the Vancouver shore after the events of "To Hie from Far Cilenia." Lacking proper ID, he has to find a way to get home; but whose jurisdiction is he under? Canada's? Cascadiopolis's? America's? As he's caught in the tug-of-war between the old and new powers of Cascadia, he is offered a way out by a robotics company that's wiling to hire him (and provide him with a much-needed work visa) if he can solve a problem: why is the prototype of their new AI-enabled exoskeleton refusing to take orders?
6) Metatropolis: Cascadia will be available on November 16th from audible.com

7) As of this posting no print edition has been announced. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see one from Subterranean Press or Tor.

Oct 13, 2010

A Bad Review

I've been a little quiet the past few days while puzzling over the review of David Weber's Out of the Dark. It's not a problem specific to the book, nor is is indicative of the book's quality.  It's a common occurrence - it just takes a few days for me to figure out how to put my feelings into words.
So while I was busy not reviewing Out of the Dark, I decided to waste some time on Twitter. Where I saw this:

@torbooks - RT @BSCreview: Out of the Dark by David Weber – review http://bit.ly/cjC0xM

I decided to take a look at the "review" and was very surprised at what I found over at BSCReview.

Who’s the reigning King of Military Science Fiction? David Weber, author of the Honor Harrington, novels, is certainly a contender for the crown with his ultra-realistic descriptions of weapons and battle strategies, and his suspenseful, colorful descriptions of warfare and battles against alien foes. His newest novel, Out of the Dark,

is sure to add to his well justified fame. Though not an Honor Harrington novel, it is a superb stand-alone thriller about the invasion of the Earth in the near future by the Shongairi, a race of carnivorous beings bent on colonizing the planet and enslaving humanity.

The Galactic Hegemony, an organization made up of civilized sentient races, has decided that humans are nothing more than blood-thirsty savages. They are omnivores seemingly bent on their own destruction, and have no hope of attaining any higher level of intelligence or civilization. The Earth is thus marked for colonization by the Shongairi. Whatever happens to the humans is of little or no import to the Hegemony once the decision has been made, though the centaur-like Barthonis, who made the fateful judgment, secretly wouldn’t mind if the Shongairi get more than they bargained for.

The Barthonis, an herbivorous race, based their judgment on viewing an extremely bloody battle King Henry of England had against France, in which his forces succeeded despite being vastly outnumbered, because he held the better ground and employed better battle tactics. They just see it as a pointlessly violent battle, which would be extreme to their way of thinking even if carnivores like the Shongairi were the participants. The Survey Team calls our planet KU-197-20.

This opening scene of the battle is their justification that it is morally justifiable to subjugate humanity. They realize that it will be several hundred years before the Shongairi can reach the Earth and begin their conquest, and that things can change during that time, but they don’t believe that humanity will have been able to attain a much higher degree of sophistication, intelligence, and civilization even given the rather long interim time period until the point when the Shongairi arrive.

The Shongairi find that humanity has changed much more than the they or the Galactic Hegemony team had anticipated. In fact, though we still engage in extreme instances of violence, pointless wars, and we have no One Government type of world, in many ways humanity has attained a Level Two civilization. They decide to continue on with their plans, though, and to try to hide the truth about humanity’s unprecedented speed at attaining this higher level by destroying any evidence that might suggest this, after they conquer the Earth and humanity bows down to them as their masters.

Out of the Dark originally began as a novella in the anthology Warriors, which was reviewed here at BSC (but not by me). The main character of the novella is also one of the novel’s main characters, Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky. He believes that he is going to be rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan. Instead, Buchevsky finds himself in Romania, prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed.

David Weber expanded greatly on the original story, and the novel is told from multiple POVs. Humanity is much more tenacious than the Shongairi had thought they’d be. Despite the world’s main military bases and most of its major cities having been destroyed by energy weapons that make it seem as if they’d been wiped out by nuclear bombs, our surviving military forces valiantly fight back. They use, for instance, F-22′s and Abrams and Bradley tanks to inflict casualties on the Shongairi, and they make up an impressive resistance movement. The Shongairi have never had to combat anyone who had achieved a Level Two civilization before. Their armor wasn’t built to stand up to spent-uranium ammunition, and their combat strategies never had to develop a high level of nuance, because they had always faced foes that had offered comparatively little resistance. As the author notes, in the Shongairi’s defense:

It wasn’t their fault. This wasn’t the kind of battle they’d been trained to fight. Not the kind of combat their vehicles had been built to survive or their doctrine had been framed to confront.

The survivalist efforts of the Dvorak and Wilson families, as well as the battle scenes, were the two biggest factors in my enjoyment of the novel. Former Marine Dave Dvorak and Rob Wilson run a shooting range, and they have been steadily making improvements on a massive cabin in the Nantohal National Forest in North Carolina over the decades. The cabin has been in the Dvorak family for a long time, and both clans gather up their impressive array of guns and other belongings and head to it upon hearing about the alien invasion. A quote I really liked and thought was amusing regarding Dvorak and Wilson is one told by some of their friends, that they “were both politically somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, although possibly still to the left of Genghis Khan.”

Out of the Dark by David Weber is Military SF at its best. It’s a novel that gives one hope that if worst came to worst, and we were invaded by a technologically superior race, we would give them all the fight they wanted, and more, even if Washington, DC, was bombed back into the Stone Age.

Oh, and then there are the other heroes that come to humanity’s aid, though they have generally considered us to be prey items….When it comes to the defense of the Earth, and kicking some Shongairi butt, certain differences can be put temporarily aside. If you’re a fan of the Honor Harrington, novels, or Military SF in general, you’re going to want to add the very compelling and page-turning Out of the Dark to your reading lists.

Now, I typically wouldn't quote whole articles verbatim but it's necessary to illustrate my point. By color coding for Opinions/Reviews, Facts about the book/author, Summary of the book, and Quotes it should be very easy to see the breakdown of this so-called review. And this is being extremely generous when labeling review statements. And I understand why Tor is promoting the article - it's basically an elevator pitch stapled to an outline of the first five chapters. But to call it a review?

Ignoring the deep thoughts of "page-turning," "ultra realistic" and "compelling" in the introduction and conclusion of the review, the actual review content boils down to a single sentence:
The survivalist efforts of the Dvorak and Wilson families, as well as the battle scenes, were the two biggest factors in my enjoyment of the novel.

That's it. Now there are some generalizations about David Weber and his status in the military SF subgenre. Oh and the fact that Weber wrote The Honor Harrington Novels. Well at least BSCReview read the cover. Or at least the front of it. If they had read the back, they might have realized that the same book they describe as a "superb stand-alone thriller" is also the "stunning launch of a new military series." I love stand-alone series. And Democrublicans.

From poking around their site it's clear that BSCReview is interested in making money and little else. I don't necessarily disagree with the overall tone of the piece. Out of the Dark is an enjoyable novel (saving my full thoughts for the review) but there is no way you can consider this a legitimate review by any definition of the word. And I would hope that any respectable book reviewer can see why.

Look for a real review of Out of the Dark in the near future.

Oct 8, 2010

Covering Covers: Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey

I happened upon this little gem in my internet travels today. Leviathan Wakes is due out next June from Orbit (at least in the UK) from author James S.A. Corey. Corey is actually a pseudonym for fantasy writer Daniel Abraham (who also goes by M.L.N. Hanover for Urban Fantasy) and Ty Franck. Ty Franck has worked with George R.R. Martin in the past but this is his first full length piece.

The basic premise:
Hundreds of years in the future, the solar system has become a dense network of human colonies. But there are tensions - the mineral-rich outer planets resent their dependence on Earth and Mars, and the political and military influence they wield.

When Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across an abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. After his own ship is destroyed by a mysterious stealth craft, Holden must discover the motives behind the attack, prevent the largest armed conflict in history, and uncover a conspiracy that threatens the entire human race...
Sounds like an intimate romance, no?

I'm not sure if that cover is a John Harris or not but it is beautiful. I know its a little cliche but I can't help it - I love a good space opera cover. Planets and space stations delightful akimbo, embracing the directionless mentality of space. The rough lines and geometric shapes make me think it's a Harris cover but that hasn't been confirmed.

It's also clearly a "debut" cover. Leviathan Wakes absolutely overshadows the authors name like Neil Gaiman at a book convention. Not exactly surprising, given the fact that the author is as fictional as the story itself.

Leviathan Wakes will be out next June from Orbit (at least in the UK).

Oct 7, 2010

A Stomping on Yeti First!!!

During my short career as a book blogger, one of the things I've always wondered about is whether or not my blog name was a good choice. Don't misunderstand, it's definitely unique. I just don't know if "Stomping on Yeti" is exactly synonymous with "respectable reviewer of genre fiction".

The one thing in particular that I doubted was that "Stomping on Yeti" would be a website publishers would be willing to quote. Ignoring content, "Stomping on Yeti" doesn't suggest the same credibility that is inherent in names like SFSite, Speculative Horizons, or Fantasy Book Critic.

Now I'm not reviewing to get my name/site in books. But at the same time I'm not going to lie - having a publisher consider my opinion being respectable or well written enough to put in/on the book itself would make my day.

Well, I was surprised to find out from twitter this morning that day was today. Apparently, my review of Moxyland was quoted within the new US edition from Angry Robot. I'm going to have to buy a print edition (even though I already own two copies) just to have a physical memento from the blog.

A brilliant debut that paints a harsh but strangely realistic portrait of tomorrow with a grace rarely seen in comparable works. Make no mistake; Moxyland is a work of art.

If you go back and read the review itself, the context is a little bit more clear. Those two sentences are actually the first and last lines of the review so it's no surprise if they seem a little bit disjointed.

Revisiting that old review also makes me realize that I've gotten away from the five hundred word limit that I originally imposed for the sake of readability. I'm going to have to resharpen my editorial eye.

Anyway, my apologies for the contentless post but I thought it was cool.

Sequel to METAtropolis Coming This Fall!

Cover Artist: Paint/WordArt

One of the key attributes of a well-developed world is the sense that there is a lot more to the story than what fits on the page. The world has a history and a future, regardless of what substory the author actually writes. Or authors, in the case of shared world anthologies, which occassionally spring into existence when you put too many authors in a room together. But when you create a world that begs for further exploration, that further exploration is more often than not an inevitable conclusion.

So when I saw that the authors behind METAtropolis were reuniting for more stories, part of me wasn't exactly overwhelmed with surprise. But the other part of me was excited, mostly because the original anthology a spectacular example of dystopian SF from a crack force of talented newcomers. The anthology focused several new cities in a future America that was different than our own while retaining the roots that grounded it to today's reality.

Tobias Buckell, contributor to both METAtropolis and it's sequel, broke the news on his blog today.
I’m here to announce that a novella of mine, called Byways, will be in the sequel to METAtropolis, called METAtropolis: Cascadia.
METAtropolis was an audio project by Audible.com that you could purchase from Audible or iTunes featuring a shared world glimpse at the future of cities from an awesome cast of authors, each with their own take.

METAtropolis: Cascadia moves the geographical focus to the Pacific Northwest. Jay Lake took on editing and leading the concept for this sequel, and the launch date for it is November 16th.
Buckell goes on to provide the table of contents:
  • THE BULL DANCERS by Jay Lake
  • WATER TO WINE by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • BYWAYS by Tobias S. Buckell
  • CONFESSOR by Elizabeth Bear
  • DEODAND by Karl Schroeder
As well as the blurb for Byways, his personal contribution.
The Pacific Northwest has been transformed — politically, economically, and ecologically — into the new reality of Cascadia. Conspiracies and secrets threaten the tenuous threads of society. The End of Days seems nearer than ever. And the legend of the mysterious Tygre Tygre looms large.
I'll see what I can do to get blurbs from some of the other authors. Now I'm disappointed that John Scalzi (one of my favorite authors) dropped out of the book after contributing to and editing the original. At the same time it's hard to be disappointed with the addition of Ken Scholes and Mary Robinette Kowal. Kowal and Scholes are both Authors Worth Watching in my opinion and they're proven time and time again they know their short fiction.

I have to wonder if the sales figures for dystopian SF are inversely proportional to the state of the economy (which is increasingly dystopian itself). But if you are going to invest some of your hard earned money in a book this fall, METAtropolis: Cascadia is a pretty safe investment.

As Buckell, mentions the Audible.com project launch is right around the corner on Novermber 16th with print editions likely to follow.

Oct 5, 2010

eBook eConomics: Alternate Approaches

Ignoring minor variations, the publishing model for popular fiction has been relatively stagnant for decades. A book comes out in hardcover at a price point of $20-30. About 9 months to a year later, that same book is reissued in paperback at a lowered price around $5-$10. Sometimes the hardcover is replaced by a TPB, sometimes the paperback is. Over the years, the cost of manufacturing and the slow burn of inflation has pushed the prices ever upward. But at it's core, the model remained the same. Hardcover than paperback. Book after book.

And then comes along the concept of the eBook. Immediate. Disposable. Low cost. Simple distribution. Infinite print run. Zero shelf space. Aside from the whole story thing, it's basically everything a physical book isn't.

So why do publishers insist on pricing it like it is?

The debate over the eBook price point rages on and on. Publisher vs. retailer vs. author vs. consumer. But it always seems to gravitate between a hardcover price point ($15-25) or a paperback one ($5-$15) give or take some form of DRM. Why do publishers insist on keeping things stagnant when so much around them is changing? Where are the alternate approaches?

More importantly, where are the game changers?

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to offer a few very simple alternate ideas.  They'll be high level thought experiments intended to inspire a little bit of discussion. They probably won't be feasible for one if not several reasons but who knows, maybe they will spark someone to try something different.

Oct 3, 2010

YetiStomper Picks for October

Plenty of literary treats this month... I wonder if people would get mad if I handed out books for Halloween.

The Bookman - Lavie Tidhar

The Bookman, Book 1 - Angry Robot continues their plans for global domination with The Bookman, a steampunk novel that is pretty far out there, even for steampunk titles. Tidhar is a brilliant up and comer and with the elements he has to work with (giant lizards, robots, airships, pirates) it's no suprise that this story was well recieved in UK circles earlier this year. (September 28 from Angry Robot)

Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan Trilogy, Book 2 - Leviathan (my review) was a fantastic novel for genre fans of any age, showcasing an alternate version of World War I fought between two bizarrely fascinating factions. My own real complaint was that it ended too soon. The last we read, Deryn and Aleksander were set to deliver some precious cargo to Constantinople so it will be very interesting to see where things go from here. Throw in Keith Thompson's absolutely amazing illustrations and Simon Pulse has another sure winner on their hands. (October 5 from Simon Pulse)

The Half Made World - Felix Gilman

Stand Alone Dystopian Fantasy - High-concept dystopian fiction from another fresh face. Gilman's early work has garnered a lot of praise and from the sound of it, this is his break out novel. In addition to praise for the imaginative world and deep realistic characters, I've seen specific comparisons to Cormac McCarthy (The Road) and Ursula K. Le Guin (The Dispossessed). This is one to check out. (October 12 from Tor)

I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett

Discworld (Tiffany Aching), Book 38 (4) - Unbelievably, this is the 38th entry in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and specifically the 4th Young Adult novel detailing the exploits of young witch Tiffany Aching. I'd be lying if I've said I've read every Discworld novel but evey one I have read has been full of sharp satire as humorous as it is insightful. (September 28 from HarperCollins)

Surface Detail - Iain M. Banks

The Culture Novels, Book 9 - Do I really need to say anything? Iain M. Banks is back with another Culture novel. This entry focuses on a murdered sex slave reincarnated to avenge her own death and the Culture as they wage war on death itself. It's fast paced, intelligent space opera like only Banks can create. (October 28 from Orbit)

The Wolf Age - James Enge

Morlock the Maker, Book 3 - Morlock Ambrosius returns! Enge writes fantasy with a unique blend of horror and humor that tends to divide readers. In The Wolf Age, Enge focuses his signature style on Wuruyaaria. But how will Morlock navigate the bloody political landscape to achieve the true goal behind his visit to the city of Werewolves? (October 5 from Pyr)

All Clear - Connie Willis

Blackout Duology, Book 2 - Connie Willis originally envisioned Blackout as a single novel set in the same universe as The Doomsday Book where historical research is done by "unobtrusively" time-traveling into the past. What can go wrong? However, upon writing the intended story Willis discovered it was going to end up being physically unpublishable. As a result, Blackout was split into two volumes. All Clear is the second half of the story begun in Blackout in which time historians traveled back to World War II era England and managed to get stuck. (October 5 from Spectra)

Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars, and Other Unusual Encounters - Ken Scholes

Short Story Collection - In a industry where novels are everything, short fiction often falls to the wayside. Ken Scholes is mostly known for his Psalms of Isaak series but he also maintains a strong portfolio of excellent shorts. Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars, and Other Unusual Suspects is the 2nd short story collection from Scholes and contains 17 stories, including a pair set in the Psalms of Isaak universe. If you are a completist like me, or just happen to like quality short ficion, definitely give Mimes and Czars a chance. Plus, Mimes! and Czars! (October 19 from Fairwood Press)

King Maker - Maurice Broaddus

The Knights of Breton Court, Book 1 - Urban Fantasy rarely gets more literal than this. Set in Indianapolis, King Maker is the first book in a modern day retelling of Arthurian Legend with gang members instead of knights wielding handguns in addition to mythic swords. This fresh take on King Arthur has been out in the UK for a number of months and is finally hitting American bookshelves. (September 28 from Angry Robot)

The Dragon's Apprentice - James A. Owen

Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, Book 5 - If you aren't up to date on the Imaginarium Geographica, you should be. It's a YA fantasy series intentionally layered to be read by multiple age groups. Kids will gravitate to the fantastic adventures Owen writes while adults will appreciate the meta-level literary references he weaves into his work. If you are looking for something to read to your kids that will entertain you as much as them (and possibly even get them to read a classic or two), try this series. Owen is five books into the seven book series which should keep your kids (and yourself) reading for quite some time. (October 19 from Simon & Schuster)

The Company Man - Robert Jackson Bennett

Stand Alone Alternate History / Steampunk - Earlier I mentioned that King Maker was making its US debut despite being available in the UK for months. Well The Company Man is another of those UK only releases. US fans will have to wait until next April to see Robert Jackson Bennett's sophomore effort after the excellent Mr. Shivers. The Company Man focuses on some abnormal occurences in a 1920s alternate America. When eleven union workers are discovered dead on a subway car, it appears all is not right within America's largest corporation. (October 7 from Orbit)

The Cardinal's Blades - Pierre Pevel

The Cardinal's Blades, Book 1 - Pierre Pevel is a well-known, award-winning French author but his works have yet to be translated into English. Until now. Pyr is finally bringing The Cardinal's Blades to American audiences. A historical fantasy set in seventeenth century France, The Cardinal's Blades focuses on a covert group of the same name focused on protecting France's interests in an alternate Europe where dragons are a part of everyday life. (October 5 from Pyr)

Passion Play - Beth Bernobich

The Erythandra Series, Book 1 - A sure contender for debut of the year, Passion Play is Renaissance fantasy from a rising genre star. So far, the biggest complaint I've seen is that riveted readers will have to wait until Book 2 for more. There's romance, intrigue, sex, magic, violence - basically everything you could want in a fantasy series. Be forewarned, Passion Play does contain some sexual violence. (October 12 from Tor)

Kill the Dead - Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim, Book 2 - For being the home to Halloween, October sure is short on Urban Fantasy. The only real contender is Kill the Dead, the 2nd entry in the Sandman Slim sequence. James Stark fought his way out of hell to avenge his girlfriend's death in Book 1. Now he's playing bodyguard for the devil himself. What could go wrong? Kadrey writes noir fiction with a darker edge than most Urban Fantasy authors. Don't expect Twilight. Expect something worth reading. (October 5 from Eos)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: This one is like picking Snickers or Reese's on your neighbor's doorstep. You've got a caramel covered stand-alone in Felix Gilman's promising The Half Made World but Scott Westerfield's first Leviathan book was a delicious blend of literary chocolate and visual peanut butter. There's no indication Behemoth will be any different. Why not just take both? Both Behemoth and The Half Made World are my YetiStomper Picks of the Month.

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: While I haven't read it yet, I've been hearing a lot of positive buzz around Beth Bernobich's Passion Play. I've yet to read it (it's on the top of a very deep pile) but I've read plenty of her short stuff as part of my Authors Worth Watching campaign. She's the real deal and her blend of fantasy is traditional world building with more than a pinch of spice. If you are a looking for a new voice, Passion Play is the book for you.

YetiStomper Cover Of The Month: If Behemoth's cover was anything like Leviathan's it had the potential to walk away with this category. Unfortunately, they dropped the ball big time so the door is wide open for a new champion. The Wolf's Age is a well-executed take on a fantasy cover. The noir atmosphere comes through the deep blues and shadowy character on The Company Man. However, the clear winner is Richard Kadrey's Kill the Dead. I absolutely love the colors and the way they are bright but gloomy at the same time. The picture just oozes atmosphere and it conveys a sense of foreboding that is hard to ignore. The scene plays out in my mind as a quiet evening in some generic industrial park. The silence is broken by a single gunshot, throwing birds into the air like buckshot. Cool stuff for sure. And the Worst? I know Fairwood Press is a small press but the cover to Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars is almost too bad to be unintentional. It's like photoshop and Roger Corman had a baby. 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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