November 22


Archived Newsletter Content


Newsletter #91 September November, 2010

Short Recommendations
by Don Blyly

        S. M. Stirling has written a couple of related series, which are now being called Novels of the Change. The first trilogy consisted of Island in the Sea of Time ($7.99), Against the Tide of Years ($7.99), and On the Oceans of Eternity ($7.99), and follow a story line where Nantucket Island and an area around it are mysteriously sent back to the bronze age. The other series postulates that in our world, the laws of physics suddenly change so that internal combustion engines no longer work, electric motors no longer work, and explosives no longer explode, resulting in the very rapid collapse of civilization world-wide. The first three books concentrate on events in Oregon and the main characters are of the generation that were adults at the time of the change: Dies the Fire ($7.99), The Protector’s War ($7.99), and A Meeting at Corvalis ($7.99). The following books use as main characters people who were too young to remember what things were like before the change, and show us how the change affected other parts of the world: The Sunrise Lands ($7.99), The Scourge of God ($7.99), and The Sword of the Lady ($25.95, $9.99 pb due September 7). I’ve enjoyed and recommended every book in the series.
        The next book in the series is The High King of Montival ($25.95, due September 7) and it is also very good. However, it had better not be “the thrilling conclusion to this unforgettable series!!!”, as the publisher is advertising. In the previous book, Rudi and his companions fight their way across the country to reach Nantucket Island to claim the Sword of the Lady, while the forces of the Prophet try to stop him. In The High King of Montival, the forces of the Prophet try to invade Oregon, while Rudi and his companions fight their way back across the continent (much of the time in Canada) to return the sword to Oregon, recruiting allies for the war against the Prophet along the way. By the end of the book, Rudi and his companions and the sword have reached Oregon, and the allies are getting ready for the climatic war against the Prophet.
        S. M. Stirling will be signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Tuesday, September 7, 5-6 pm.

        I kept hearing good things about Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey ($7.99), and in spite of some bad proofreading and a continuity problem, I enjoyed it a lot.
        James Stark grew up in Southern California as a troublesome teenager, partly because he could do magic. He fell in with a bad group of kids who could also do magic, although his ability was greater than any of the others. But the group managed to send him to Hell, and later murdered his girl friend. After 11 years in Hell, Stark has escaped back to L.A. and is looking for revenge. The hard-edged, sarcastic story is full of interesting ideas (the Southern California branch of Homeland Security has been taken over by a hard-nosed angel who’s more interested in using it to crack down on supernatural threats than on international terrorists), and the story is only slowed down a little by filling in back-story for some of the characters.
        The sequel, Kill the Dead ($22.99, due early October) is even better. The first sentence of the novel: “Imagine shoving a cattle prod up a rhino’s ass, shouting “April fool,” and hoping the rhino thinks its funny.” As you would expect from such an opening, the book is full of action mixed with lots of rude, crude humor. It’s delightful.
        Stark has been barely supporting himself as a hitman working for Homeland Security, bumping off vampires and other supernaturals. Then he gets an offer he can’t refuse–Lucifer has come to Hollywood to work on a movie deal, and Lucifer insists that Stark be his bodyguard. Stark thinks that Lucifer isn’t likely to swindle him on pay as badly Homeland Security has been doing, and besides both Stark and Lucifer think that the bodyguard job is just for the sake of image. But it’s surprising how many want to bump off Lucifer, and Stark soon has his hands full.
        Richard Kadrey will be signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Wednesday, October 13, 5-6 pm.

        I’ve previously recommended The Devil You Know by Mike Carey ($7.99), the first of a series about London exorcist Felix Castor, who drifts from being an exorcist to being a kind of PI who specializes in solving supernatural crimes (and mooching from his friends, since he never seems to get paid). If you like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, you’ll probably also like Mike Carey’s series.
        While the first in the series is a delightful blend of gruesome crime, a mix of interesting characters both pleasant and unpleasant, and a lot of snide humor, I didn’t care for the second book in the series, Vicious Circle ($7.99). Almost every new character introduced in the second book was loathsome and deserved to be shot, and the humor was missing. Many people who enjoyed the first book gave up on the second book. But, there are situations and characters in the second book that are mentioned frequently in the rest of the series, so you should go ahead and at least skim the second book before moving on to the vastly superior later books in the series. Apparently, the U.S. publisher gave up on the series after the third book, Dead Men’s Boots ($7.99), and suddenly we were able to easily get import copies of the next two books in the series, Thicker Than Water ($8.99) and The Naming of the Beasts ($8.99). We sold our first 10 copies of each very quickly, but we hope to be restocked around late August.
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