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New and Noteworthy

Once again we present the most interesting of the new arrivals at our office, with a special look at some intriguing Young Adult SF and Fantasy titles.

New Releases

Joe Haldeman's The Forever War is one of the true classics of the genre. Winner of the 1976 Hugo and Nebula awards, it shattered many of the genre conventions surrounding interstellar war, showing what a true conflict conducted across the gulf of space might really be like -- especially for the soldiers on the front lines. Despite a fine assortment of later work, including Worlds, 1968, and The Hemingway Hoax, Haldeman remains best known for The Forever War. And now he returns to the theme of futuristic war with his latest novel, Forever Peace (Ace, October 1, 326 pages, $21.95).

It's 2043, the eighth year of the Ngumi War, a prolonged and dirty conflict between the US-led Alliance and a third world coalition. Atlanta and San Diego have endured limited nuclear strikes, and the soldiers on the front lines this time are indestructible war machines linked to human soldiers hundreds of miles away. Sergeant Julian Class is one of these "soldierboys", linked to the other members of his platoon by a form of telepathy which makes secrets impossible. When Dr. Amelia Harding, Julian's lover, discovers that a super-science project being assembled near Jupiter may well mean the end of the universe, the news is greeted with skepticism by most. But for Julian, it's all the reason he needs to re-direct his life. Though it's not going to be easy -- there's a war on, and for some victory is all that matters.

Attila's Treasure, (Bantam Spectra, October 13, 519 pages, $6.99) is the second novel from Irishman Stephan Grundy. Apparently writing his previous novel, Rhinegold and completing his Ph.D. on ancient pantheons was not sufficient to keep Mr. Grundy busy. In the first book we met Hagan, the slayer of Sigifrith (Siegfried in Wagner's Ring Cycle); Attila's Treasure recounts his early life in an intriguing blend of history, magic and myth. As part of a peace agreement between the Burgundians and the warrior Attila, young prince Hagan is sent east to serve as a foster son (read hostage) to the Hun leader, where he must prove himself on the battlefield. But during his very first test Hagan discovers his unusual talent: the ability to open a gate to the otherworld, an ability he must conceal carefully. But with the arrival at the camp of Hildegund, a young Christian woman whom Attila intends to marry, Hagan finds that there are some things worth risking everything for -- his secrets, his life, and even war.

Michael Williams is a novelist and poet best known for his Dragonlance books, including Weasel's Luck and The Oath and the Measure. But perhaps his most ambitious work to date is also his most recent: the novel Arcady, the saga of the Hawken family, based on the religious mythology of the poet William Blake. Allamanda (Penguin/Roc, October, 417 pages, $14.95) takes place ten years later and follows the Hawken family members Solomon, Endymion and Garrick, who have fled Arcady to their brother's Allamanda estate. But even here they cannot escape the threat of the all-devouring Absence... or their turbulent family history.

Sometimes it seems the shelves at the local bookstore are groaning under the weight of Star Trek books. Even for fans of the sub-genre, the volume of franchise wordage produced every month can be a little overwhelming, and for others the tendency to skip over that whole section has become habitual.

But when an excellent book in the Star Trek canon does appear, it's time for everyone to take notice. The Art of Star Trek (Pocket Books, October 1997, 298 pages, $25), by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens is exactly the kind of book that reminds us of the wonder and style of Star Trek, from the original series all the way through the latest full-length features. This beautifully illustrated peek-behind-the-scenes begins with the conceptual designs and drawings for the pilot episode "The Cage", including the surprising original models for the starship Enterprise and everything inside: from Federation costumes and sets to phaser and tricorder blueprints. The next chapter moves on to the original series where we're treated to a dazzling array of familiar matte drawings and set designs, and shown the reality of TV production economy with a revealing look at how the one of the series' few permanent sets, the Enterprise Briefing Room, was converted into literally dozens of other rooms -- including the ship's chapel and theater -- with only a few subtle changes. Even more revealing are the photos which show how the background matte for the mining operation on Janus VI (Devil in the Dark) was brazenly re-used as the underground complex on Triskelion. Or how the lithium cracking station on Delta Vega in the show's second pilot (Where No Man Has Gone Before) was airbushed into the Tantalus Penal Colony in Dagger of the Mind.

From the photos of Star Trek's various creatures (including a tribble, flipped over top reveal its inner workings) to Ralph McQuarrie's beautifully detailed conceptual paintings for the aborted Star Trek Phase II 70's TV series to the construction of the Stellar Cartography set for Star Trek: Generations, this book contains the kind of loving detail that will entrance even the most hardened ex-Trekkie. This is the kind of book that will get you to slow down next time your eyes flash over the Trek section at the bookstore -- and remind you of why Star Trek first fired your imagination.

Young Adult

Garth Nix's first YA fantasy novel was the well-received Sabriel, which generated considerable excitement among our reviewers. While Nix has kept busy with such recent work as the HarperTrophy X-Files novelizations for young readers, the appearance of his next original novel has been highly anticipated. Shade's Children (HarperCollins, September, 288 pages, $15.95) is no disappointment.

While Sabriel was fantasy, Shade's Children is a dystopian science fiction novel. The future is very grim indeed, for it is ruled by ruthless Overlords who police their realm with frightening mechanical creations such as Wingers, Myrmidions, Screamers, and Trackers. Children are raised in Dormitories and on their Sad birthday, when they turn fourteen, they are visited by the Overlords... for as powerful and deadly as they are, the Overlord's creatures all have one thing in common: they require the freshly transplanted brain of a fourteen-year-old human to operate. Trios of trackers sweep the abandoned cities looking for escapees, and hiding in the ruins are four children and the teacher they know as Shade -- a man who claims that it's possible to overthrow the Overlords and return things to the way they were.

Epic fantasy sagas have a thing about size. In general, bigger is assumed to be better. Trilogies are everywhere, as are novels the size of phone books. Quests are bloated things that cover 15 chapters and as many continents. Perhaps that's why William the Curious, Knight of the Water Lilies (Random House, August, 426 pages, $23.95), written and illustrated by Charles Santore, is so strangely refreshing. Yes, it's a fantasy, and yes it has a quest. But the quest spans only a few dozen yards and encompasses a single question. Not that this isn't a daunting challenge to the hero William, who happens to be a frog.

When the Queen of the Land of Far and Wide orders her subjects to throw everything imperfect out of the castle, the beautiful and comfy moat which William and his friends inhabit quickly becomes clogged with royal junk. Donning the vest and armor of a cast-off toy soldier, William takes up the quest to enter the castle and ask the Queen why she has destroyed his home -- a quest which presents ample opportunity for courage and heroism, despite its small scale. A fine blend of art and words which come together in an engaging environmental fable.

S. P. Somtow is an award-winning novelist and filmmaker whose work includes the best-selling Vampire Junction series, Moon Dance, The Wizard's Apprentice, and the memoir Jasmine Nights. But he's never written anything quite like The Vampire's Beautiful Daughter (Byron Preiss/Atheneum, illustrated by Gary A. Lippinscott, September, 116 pages, $17), an intriguing horror/love story for young readers. Rebecca Teppish is the daughter of a vampire, which means she must chose whether she wishes to remain mortal, or become a vampire. Her choice is complicated by the arrival of Johnny Raitt, whose relationship with his own father, a best-selling author, has surprising similarities to hers. Rebecca finds that she may be falling in love with Johnny and -- worse -- that Johnny is responsible for the death of a vampire. An unusual urban fantasy with just the right touch of gothic horror.

Jane Yolen's guiding hand behind Harcourt Brace's Magic Carpet imprint is gradually becoming more apparent. In the last nine months Magic Carpet has produced some of the most beautifully packaged and striking fantasy titles in the Young Adult market. And last month it added to an already impressive list with a reprint of Vivian Vande Velde 1985 fairy tale, A Hidden Magic (Magic Carpet/Harcourt Brace, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, August 1997, 176 pages, $5.00).

Vande Velde is the author of several recent notable YA titles, including Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird and The Conjuror Princess. Here she tells the tale of the charming but plain princess Jennifer, who has the misfortune to fall in love with the conceited prince Alexander. Alexander's offensive habits have managed to annoy a great many folk, including a witch who casts a potent spell upon him. And now it's up to Jennifer to save him and, in the process, defeat a very powerful opponent. But is it worth it? An engrossing tale of young love and young magic from "a master of the unexpected." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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