Sunday, 10 April 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 10/04/11

Met the old BoSS? Well, let me introduce you to the new BoSS - same as the old BoSS, more or less... except less is more. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

All caught up? Good. Let's get on with it, then.

What, another week happened? You're shitting me!

Well, I suppose Windows agrees, so it must be true. Further investigations as to where the past seven days have disappeared off to shall surely follow, but for the moment, seeing as its Sunday, shall we talk some exciting new arrivals?



by Catherynne M. Valente

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 29/03/11
by Tor

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Gosh but this girl's a productive one! Here I thought, after reading book one of The Habitation of the Blessed and falling head over heels for her work, thereafter to buy up her back catalogue in its entirety, near as dammit, that I'd have the chance to get all caught up before her next novel came along.

Not so much. And not only is there Deathless to look forward to, there's also Ventriloquism, her short story collection from the fine folks at PS Publishing (aforementioned on The BoSS), and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland On A Ship Of Her Own Making. So I've got my work cut out for me.

...but it's such wonderful work, I shan't complain.

Howl: A Graphic Novel
by Allen Ginsberg

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 25/11/10
by Penguin Classics

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Beat movement icon and visionary poet, Allen Ginsberg was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, and broke boundaries with his fearless, pyrotechnic verse. The apocalyptic Howl, originally written as a performance piece, became the subject of an obscenity trial when it was first published in 1956. It is considered to be one of the defining works of the Beat Generation, standing alongside that of Burroughs, Kerouac, and Corso. In it, Ginsberg attacks what he saw as the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in the United States at the time, and takes on issues of sex, drugs and race, simultaneously creating what would become the poetic anthem for US counterculture.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: What is the Beat Generation?

I'll have to spend a while Wiki-ing this and that, if I'm to do Howl any justice come the time I sit down with it. Of course I look forward to the opportunity, because as we all know, learning is fun!

But I wonder: Howl: The Graphic Novel, as far as I can tell, is beat poetry broken up by images intended to be carefully consumed. And can that work? I mean, two distinct narrative rhythms pieced together like this?

I suppose we'll just have to wait and see, won't we? :)

Heaven's Shadow
by David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/07/11
by Tor

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Heaven's Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race – but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined...

What they have landed on is no asteroid but a spacecraft from a civilization that has travelled tens of thousands of years to reach earth. While the team try to work out what it is they are needed for, more sinister occurrences cause them to wonder if their involvement with this alien race will lead to anything but harm for humanity.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Hmm.

Yes, I said "hmm." Because David Goyer, as good a reputation as he gets on the back of Chris Nolan's incredible Batman films... he's written some right rubbish, in truth. The Crow: City of Angels, for instance. And Jumper. God, just the thought of Jumper makes me miserable. And he's directed worse: anyone remember The Unborn? Horror of all horrors if you do.

And now he's turned his attention to speculative fiction. To wit, Heaven's Shadow sounds like Armageddon meets I Am Number Four -- not exactly inspiring.

I am sorry about all the movie talk, incidentally; I know this is a whole other medium and by all rights I should give Goyer a chance to demonstrate his literary know-how anew. And I will. But I haven't the highest of hopes, in all honesty. Is it just me?

The Inevitable
edited by David Shields & Bradford Morrow

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 22/03/11
by W. W. Norton & Co.

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Birth is not inevitable. Life certainly isn't. The sole inevitability of existence, the only sure consequence of being alive, is death. In these eloquent and surprising essays, twenty writers face this fact, among them Geoff Dyer, who describes ghost bikes in memory of those who die in biking accidents; Jonathan Safran Foer, proposing a new way of punctuating dialogue in the face of a family history of heart attacks and decimation by the Holocaust; Mark Doty, whose reflections on the art-porn movie Bijou lead to a meditation on the intersection of sex and death epitomised by the AIDS epidemic; and Joyce Carol Oates, who writes about the loss of her husband and faces her own mortality. Other contributors include Annie Dillard, Diane Ackerman, Peter Straub, Brenda Hillman and Terry Castle.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Having been well and truly awed by The Diviner's Tale back in January - here's the review - it was Bradford Morrow's involvement with this project that first drew me to The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death. The complete list of contributors pulled me that much further in, for secreted between the literary folks and the more experimental authors... none other than Peter Straub!

So not too snooty to knock back a genre author. A good sign, surely. Also ghost bikes.

Not that I'm expecting The Inevitable to make for happy fun times, ever -- the ghost bikes to one side. I do not however doubt that profundity is well within its grasp. Considering the subject matter, I might take longer than usual to read this, but I absolutely will, one way or the other.

Kincaid: A Paranormal Casebook
by William F. Nolan

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 10/06/11
by Rocket Ride Books

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: In the tradition of The X-Files and Kolchak: The Night Stalker comes a bold new book from master storyteller William F. Nolan, creator of the global bestseller Logan’s Run.

A headless corpse... a shape-shifting demon... a house of unspeakable horror...

When the case goes cold, baffling L.A. police, David Kincaid is the man - a different kind of investigator with talents both worldly... and otherworldly. Follow Kincaid into the realms of the paranormal and bizarre as he helps cop-friend, Mike Lucero, pick up the trail and solve cases that defy rational explanation, that indeed confront the darkest of forces. Multiple award winner William F. Nolan takes us to the intersection of terror and mystery in a trilogy of tales that will delight crime and horror fans alike.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: So The Dresden Files?

Well, alright. If it's coming from the living legend himself, fine; anything.

I've certainly seen the Logan's Run movie, and I've a battered old second-hand copy of the book it was based on in the library. Flicking through it, though, I'm not sure I can say with any certainly I've actually read William F. Nolan before. This seems dreadfully familiar, but who knows where I've gotten those memories...

In any event, if Kincaid: A Paranormal Casebook sounds a little generic, the time I spent with Rivers of London not so very long ago at all was all the proof I needed one can still make something delicious and nutritious from an assortment of seemingly overfamiliar ingredients.

That's why ketchup goes in everything I cook. :D


That's it for this week. But never fear: the nearly-new and probably only moderately improved BoSS will be back at the same bat-time next week, in the same bat-place. See you then!

In truth, I'm still catching up on the all the exciting new books to have arrived for inspection this last little while. It's been a hell of a month, I'll say; a hell of a month.

That said, I may just have to skip a few presumed sure things to get to Deathless a bit quicker. I really am excited for shiny new Cat Valente; the short stories from Ventriloquism I've been reading between books of late have only whetted my appetite the more.

In the erstwhile, what will you be reading?

1 comment:

  1. Ventriloquism was FANTASTIC. I really need to get Deathless, especially as Valente (along with Scalzi and more) will be coming to NY reasonably soon.