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New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh

New arrivals this past month have included books from Terry Pratchett, Ben Bova, Kim Stanley Robinson, Harry Turtledove, Ursula Le Guin, Ian R. MacLeod, Jeff VanderMeer, Neal Stephenson, and many more.

As for me, I've been reading beyond genre fiction for a while, but here are some of the better books I've encountered recently, two novels and two collections:

  • Arts and Wonders by Gregory Norminton (Sceptre, hc, 490 pages, February 2004, UK)
        Boiled down to its simplest summary, this novel is told as the memoirs of a talented, adventurous dwarf in the late 16th to early 17th centuries who aspires to be a court painter for the Holy Roman Emperor in Prague, and ends up as a court forger for a minor Bavarian nobleman in the mountains just next to nowhere important. His adventures are outrageous, frightening, funny, pathetic, naughty -- everything you'd expect from the author who brought us The Ship of Fools (in 2002, also from Sceptre). And of course pretty much everything ends in disaster for our poor stunted narrator. All in all, this is a thoroughly entertaining novel. It is perhaps surprising to see such a mature work for only a second novel; many writers publish for years before they attain the same degree of comfort within their own style that Norminton seems to have discovered so easily, so naturally.
  • Captains Outrageous by Joe R. Lansdale (Phoenix, trade, 336 pages, April 2003, UK; first published in 2001)
        This is the 6th Hap & Leonard novel, and the 23rd novel overall from Lansdale. It's the first one I've read. I had no trouble diving into the world of Hap & Leonard, and although I sensed there was a depth of history to these characters, I never felt like I was missing anything critical to my enjoyment of the story at hand. Hap & Leonard are security guards at a chicken plant in Texas who inadvertently get themselves into trouble with Mexican police, international mobsters, and Caribbean cruise liner staff. Taking matters into their own hands, the trouble intensifies. The only solution is to meet it head-on. This novel is fun, light reading.
  • The Book of Ten Nights and a Night by John Barth (Houghton Mifflin, hc, 295 pages, April 2004, USA & Canada)
        John Barth is one of my all-time favourite American writers, although my wife would probably say he's a boy's writer. He's also very much a writer's writer, being one of the most adept and most entertaining metafictionists. This book includes 11 short stories linked together with the frame story of the author's narrative voice & muse personified as they play at constructing their world which is the frame story, all in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the WTC & other targets. The frame story is quite possibly more interesting than the individual tales, which is just as well, since it takes up more than half of the book. I thought the muse & narrator spent more time than they required to convince me in justifying and feeling guilty about the need to create art in the wake of disaster, complete with historical/literary analogies. Nevertheless, I enjoyed their banter. This book is a good example of how John Barth is the antithesis of James Joyce; where Joyce invites you into his head to experience the difficulty of even attempting to understand what's inside someone else's mind, Barth invites you into his head and gives you a delightful guided tour of his thoughts.
  • Everything in This Country Must by Colum McCann (Picador USA, trade, 150 pages, March 2001, USA; first published in 2000)
        For a more straight-ahead type of fiction, here's a collection of two short stories and a novella from an award-winning Irish writer resident in the US. Man, can this guy write. The title story is very brief, and probably the best-written short story I've read in years. In a few short pages he reaches right into your heart and yanks it sideways. In all 3 of these tales, McCann writes with a very direct style, skillfully and subtly displaying the depths of emotion and the anguished decisions that rage just beneath the surface in his characters. Each of these 3 stories, and all of them together, provide valuable insight into the apparent simplicity and hopeless complexity inherent in a political situation that has been so divisive for so long.
(Books are listed alphabetically by author. Only books received are noted.)

New Arrivals & Forthcoming Books: Mid-May 2004
A Forest of Stars: The Saga of Seven Suns, Book 2 by Kevin J. Anderson
Pocket Books (mm, 742 pages)
Publication date: 7 June 2004, UK

The Gernsback Days: A Study of the Evolution of Modern Science Fiction From 1911 to 1936 by Mike Ashley & Robert A.W. Lowndes
Wildside Press (hc & trade, 499 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): July 2004, USA (hc) / September 2004, USA (trade)

Condemnation: War of the Spider Queen, Book 3 by Richard Baker
Forgotten Realms, Wizards of the Coast (mm, 375 pages)
Publication date: May 2003, USA & Canada & UK

Recursion by Tony Ballantyne
Tor (trade, 345 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): 16 July 2004, UK

Star Wars: The Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes
Del Rey, Ballantine (hc, 401 pages)
Publication date: 8 June 2004, USA & Canada

The Temple of Hashem by Hyam Yona Becker
Gefen Publishing House (mm, 312 pages)
Publication date: 1997, USA & Israel

Dreamers by Christian R. Bonawandt
(e-book, CD)
Publication date: 2004, USA

The Silent War: The Asteroid Wars, Book 3 by Ben Bova
Tor (hc, 380 pages)
Publication date: 13 May 2004, USA & Canada

Bengal Station by Eric Brown
Five Star (hc, 278 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): July 2004, USA

Alone with the Horrors by Ramsey Campbell
Tor (hc, 448 pages)
Publication date: 14 May 2004, USA & Canada
   Short fiction from 1961 to 1991, first published in 1993. This edition boasts a new introduction from the author.

Creative Self-Publishing in the World Marketplace by Marshall Chamberlain
Grace Publishing Group (trade & e-book, 302 pages)
Publication date: Spring 2004, USA

The Journals of Eleanor Druse: My Investigation of the Kingdom Hospital Incident by Eleanor Druse
Bantam Books (trade, 250 pages)
Publication date: 27 May 2004, UK

Take No Prisoners stories by John Grant
Willowgate Press (trade, 260 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): 1 July 2004, USA

Boofalo! by Richard S. Greene
iUniverse (trade, 369 pages)
Publication date: 2004, USA

The Ordinary by Jim Grimsley
Tor (hc, 368 pages)
Publication date: 12 May 2004, USA & Canada

The Fifth Dawn: Mirrodin Cycle, Book 3 by Cory J. Herndon
Magic The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast (mm, 310 pages)
Publication date: May 2004, USA & Canada & UK

Trial of Fire: Elita, Book 5 by Kate Jacoby
Gollancz (mm, 441 pages)
Publication date: 13 May 2004, UK & Canada
reviewSF Site Review

Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin
Harcourt (trade, 288 pages) Publication date (forthcoming): September 2004, USA & Canada
   A new novel for readers aged 12 and up.

W.I.T.C.H., Book 1: The Power of Five adapted by Elizabeth Lenhard
Volo, Hyperion, Disney (trade, 160 pages)
Publication date: April 2004, USA & Canada

W.I.T.C.H., Book 2: The Disappearance adapted by Elizabeth Lenhard
Volo, Hyperion, Disney (trade, 160 pages)
Publication date: April 2004, USA & Canada

W.I.T.C.H., Book 3: Finding Meridian adapted by Elizabeth Lenhard
Volo, Hyperion, Disney (trade, 160 pages)
Publication date: April 2004, USA & Canada

W.I.T.C.H., Book 4: The Fire of Friendship adapted by Elizabeth Lenhard
Volo, Hyperion, Disney (trade, 160 pages)
Publication date: April 2004, USA & Canada

Weirdmonger by D.F. Lewis
Prime Books (trade, 397 pages)
Publication date: 2003, USA

Cloud of Chaos, Planet of Light by Blanche F. Lord
1st Books (trade, 285 pages)
Publication date: 2001, USA

Breathmoss and Other Exhalations by Ian R. MacLeod
Golden Gryphon (hc, 309 pages)
Publication date: June 2004, USA & Canada

Absolutely Brilliant in Chrome edited by Keith Olexa
Phobos Books (trade, 351 pages)
Publication date: 2004, USA

Shadow of the Dark Angel by Gene O'Neill
Prime (trade, 228 pages)
Publication date: 2003, USA

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins (trade, 288 pages)
Publication date: 25 May 2004, USA & Canada

The Lebo Coven by Stephen Mark Rainey
Five Star (hc, 269 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): July 2004, USA

The Z Radiant by Jessica Reisman
Five Star (hc, 208 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): June 2004, USA

Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds
Gollancz (mm, 662 pages)
Publication date: 13 May 2004, UK
reviewSF Site Review

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson
Bantam Spectra (hc, 360 pages)
Publication date: 8 June 2004, USA & Canada

Van Helsing by Kevin Ryan, based on the screenplay by Stephen Sommers
HarperCollins Entertainment (mm, 262 pages)
Publication date: 5 May 2004, UK

The Tolltaker by James Sneddon
Five Star (hc, 298 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): June 2004, USA

The Confusion: Baroque Cycle, Book 2 by Neal Stephenson
William Morrow, HarperCollins (hc, 815 pages)
Publication date: May 2004, USA & Canada
reviewSF Site Review of Book 2, Quicksilver

Compositions for the Young and Old by Paul G. Tremblay
House of Dominion, Prime Books (trade, 211 pages)
Publication date (forthcoming): July 2004, USA

Out of the Darkness by Harry Turtledove
Tor (hc, 524 pages)
Publication date: 25 April 2004, USA & Canada

Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer
Golden Gryphon (hc, 305 pages)
Publication date: June 2004, USA & Canada

The Search for Power: Dragons from the War of Souls edited by Margaret Weiss
DragonLance, Wizards of the Coast (mm, 335 pages)
Publication date: May 2004, USA & Canada & UK

Heroes, Volume 3: Weasel's Luck by Michael Williams
DragonLance, Wizards of the Coast (mm, 347 pages)
Publication date: May 2004, USA & Canada & UK

Lord of Lies by David Zindell
Voyager, HarperCollins (mm, 675 pages)
Publication date: 15 March 2004, UK

Magazines

Aurealis, #32, October 2003, Australia
Contributors to this issue include: Paul Haines, Stephen Dedman, Sue Isle, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Richard Harland, Brendan Duffy.

Electric Velocipede, #6, Spring 2004, USA
Contributors to this issue include: Liz Williams, Neil Ayres, Edd Vick, Brendan Connell, Jodee Rubins, Stepan Chapman, Gene P. Lass, Alan DeNiro, Michael Simanoff, Jay Lake, William Shunn.

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