Mar 5, 2011

YetiStomper Picks for March

Didn't realize how many good books came out this month until I sat down to write this post and it took me a few extra days. Happy Birthday to me, I guess.

Black Halo - Sam Sykes

The Aeons' Gate, Book 2 - Sam Sykes's band of less-than-amiable adventurers continues their fantastic exploits in Black Halo. Lenk and his five compatriots return to cause more chaos with the unique blend of action and hilarity that only Sykes can deliver. (March 22 from Pyr)

Star Wars: The Old : Deceived - Paul S. Kemp

Star Wars Novel, The Old Republic Era - I've been somewhat hard on the Star Wars universe lately, particularly after the disappointment that was Red Harvest. Fortunately, the next Star Wars novel scheduled to hit shelves is penned by Paul S. Kemp, one of the few Star Wars authors still capable of recreating the magic of the Original Trilogy. Deceived is set in the same era as Bioware's new MMORPG, and further explains the situation highlighted in this cinematic short. (March 22 from Del Rey/Lucasbooks)

The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss

The Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2 - I almost didn't include The Wise Man's Fear on this list. Rothfuss is a genuine genre superstar and his inclusion here won't add a single sale to the total of this year's most anticipated novel (barring A Memory of Life or A Dance With Dragons [damn you GRRM!]). Rothfuss originally delayed The Wise Man's Fear due to the colossal expectations built upon the foundations of his stellar debut. He's finally satisfied with his sophomore effort and the early word is that everyone else is too. Go get it, if you haven't already. (March 1 from DAW)

King's Justice - Maurice Broaddus

The Knights of Breton Court, Book 2 - The Knights of Breton Court is a retelling of the traditional Arthurian Legend, albeit with a few minor changes. Broaddus moves the action from Medieval England to modern day Indianapolis where King James White tries to bring order to the drug dealers and gang members of the Breton Court Projects. So it's really not that different from the original.  (March 1 from Angry Robot)

Up Against It - M.J. Locke

Stand Alone - A promising SF debut, Up Against It came out of nowhere to quickly become one of my most anticipated books of early 2011. It's already garnered a starred review from Publisher's Weekly who called it "compulsively readable" and "smart, satisfying hard SF" that "celebrates human resilience."  Up Against It blends space opera, cyberpunk, and post-humanist concerns into a mixture of ideas that ignites like rocket fuel. But that's par for the course where alien crime syndicates and rogue AIs are concerned, right? (March 15 from Tor)

Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom - Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke & Key, Book 4 - Over the past few months, I've sampled some of the best graphic novels the industry has to offer. Fables, The Walking Dead, Y: The Last Man, Atomic Robo. All great, but none as good as Locke & Key. At a high level, the setup sounds like a generic "house with a history" tale, but Hill's oddly gripping tale is anything but. As the Locke family attempts to escape their tragic history, they find secrets hidden behind the ancient locks of Keyhouse and a set of magic keys that do so much more than open doors. I'm a sucker for object based magic (anyone remember The Lost Room?) and Hill displays talent beyond his years as each collection builds to another game changer. Locke and Key is without a doubt the most captivating comic I've ever read and Rodriguez's gorgeous art refuses to let Hill take all the credit. (March 29 from IDW Publishing)

Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant, Book 2 - Del Rey is quick to follow up on the success of last month's Midnight Riot with the second book in Aaronovitch's Urban Fantasy series. Musicians are mysteriously dying and it's up to supernatural detective Peter Grant to find out why. If you're a Dresdenfiliac craving your next hit of paranormal adventure, Aaronovitch might just scratch that itch. (March 1 from Del Rey)

Equations of Life - Simon Morden

Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy, Book 1 - The lovechild of near-future thrillers and theoretical physics, Equations of Life is the first volume of The Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy. With Books 2 and 3 coming in May and June, fans won't have to wait long for the conclusion of Morden's unique blend of science fiction tropes and it's hard to deny the appeal of yet another rapid fire publishing plan from Orbit. When the Russian Mafia, the Yakuza, and the New Machine Jihad all share an interest in your (lack of) well being, things are bound to get interesting.(March 29 from Orbit)

Wolfsangel - M.D. Lachlan

Claw Trilogy, Book 1 - Wolfsangel received rave reviews from the UK blogosphere last fall. If your version of a werewolf doesn't include shirtless teenage boys, you'll be happy to know that Lachlan agrees, taking the werewolf mythos and redefining it from scratch. Wolfsangel is the first book in a sprawling epic that chronicles the lunar intolerant throughout history. (March 22 from Pyr)

Enigmatic Pilot - Kris Saknussemm

Stand Alone, Book - I don't know too much about this one other than I like the cover and Del Rey has a tendency to put out some extremely solid literary cross-over novels (think China Mieville or Daryl Gregory). Apparently part Twain and part Pychon, Enigmatic Pilot is a "puzzle packed yarn" chronicling a young genius's journey across Civil War era America.  (March 22 from Del Rey)

The Crippled God - Steven Erikson

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 10 - Like A Memory of Light, this is one of those books where maybe isn't an option. Either you've read the 9 doorstops in Erikson's epic history or you need to back up and start from scratch. If you are interested in this weighty fantasy series, I'd recommend starting with the first volume, Gardens of the Moon. If you don't have time to read 10K pages of intricate worldbuilding, you might want to read something else. is also featuring an extensive re-read so you might want to head over there to see if it's up your alley or even just to refresh your memory. (March 1 from Tor)

Late Eclipses - Seanan McGuire

October Daye, Book 4 - Seanan McGuire won last year's John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Find out why with the latest entry in her faerie based Urban Fantasy series. It's often hard to find the diamonds behind the rough covers of the Urban Fantasy marketing but make no mistake, McGuire is one gem of a storyteller. (March 1 from DAW)

Revolution World - Katy Stauber

Stand Alone - Why choose between economic collapse and ecological disaster when you can have both? In Revolution World, Stauber hypothesizes that everything the pundits predict will go wrong, does, and sooner rather than later. The end result is a crazy cultural mash-up that needs to be read to fully understood. Don't believe me? Here's the first line from the back cover - "Revolution World is an over-the-top bio-punk adventure novel featuring fire-breathing cows, ninja Pomeranians, marijuana bombs, hovercars, laser guns, and vampires. I think "over-the-top" is putting it mildly. (March 1 from Night Shade Books)

The Gravity Pilot - M.M. Buckner

Stand Alone - Probably the least speculative of all the books on this list, The Gravity Pilot tells the story of Orr Sitka, stratospheric skydiver whose high altitude exploits earn him a sort of celebrity in an all-to-plausible future.  (March 15 from Tor) 

Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors - Livia Llewellyn

Short Story Collection - I've only read a few stories in Livia Llewellyn's debut collection so far but it's easy to see why Laird Barron speaks so highly of her. Her work is simultaneously erotic and grotesque, titillating and terrifying. With an effortless complexity that consciously confuses predator and prey, Llewellyn's stories touch on the dark side of sexuality with a fearless voice. And if you couldn't figure it out from that description, be forewarned - this collection does contain explicit sexual content. (March 15 from Lethe Press)

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 5 - Jonathan Strahan
"Best of" Short Story Anthology, 5th Edition - Strahan returns to catalog the best genre shorts of the year in what I believe to be the preeminent genre "Best Of" anthology. Strahan selects fewer stories from a larger pool (both SF & F) than Dozios and typically produces a better book top-to-bottom. This year's edition includes stories from a lot of great new writers including Hannu Rajaniemi, Theodora Goss, Ian Tregillis, and Rachel Swisky. Gaiman and Abercrombie also make an appearance. You can see the full ToC here. (Febuary 22, 2011 from Night Shade Books)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: His debut novel came in third on's Best of the Decade list. His second book is rumored to be better than the first. Ten years from now, chances are high that more people will be reading The Kingkiller Chronicles than any other book on this list.  And that's not taking anything away from the other books on this list - Rothfuss's work is simply nothing short of must read fantasy. Which is why (surprise, surprise) The Wise Man's Fear is my YetiStomper Pick for March.

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: March's slate of debuts is another strong one, including Revolution World, Engines of Desire, Wolfsangel, Equations of Life and Up Against It among others. All of these books are intriguing for one reason or another but none more so than Up Against It. Science Fiction needs more Scalzi-, Stross- or Reynolds- caliber authors to remind readers that it's not dead yet (it can dance and it can sing!). With a few more novels as strong as Up Against It, Locke has a chance to join them.

YetiStomper Cover Of The Month: With 16 books to choose from, this one is almost impossible. The optical illusion on Equations of Life is eye-catching even if I can't look at it for long. The photograph on Engines of Desire is pitch perfect for the tone of the collection. I also really like the cool tones and perspective that DAW used to strength the typical fantasy cover of The Wise Man's Fear. Then, I can't deny that Enigmatic Pilot's graphical collage is what drew me to it in the first place. But despite all these strong covers, The Gravity Pilot takes the cake this month (Note: The cake is a lie.) Looking at it makes me feel like I'm sitting at a Space Station viewport as the lonely figure drifts across the silent vacuum of space. Almost as if it's not a still image but instead a video lacking a velocity defining reference point.

And sorry Sam, Black Halo's cover is better than the travesty that graced the front of Tome of the Undergates but it's still not enough to prevent it from being my choice for Worst Cover of the Month.

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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