Sunday, 18 September 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 18/09/11

In The BoSS this week: a sequel... an anthology... a collection... a movie tie-in... and a contemporary classic, flipbackified.

Wait, flipbackiwhat?

Well, quite. What can I say? I'm feeling a mite uninspired today. But the books, they just keep on coming. Like respawning enemies! 


Daylight on Iron Mountain
by David Wingrove

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/11/11
by Corvus

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Change is in the air...

The generals of the Middle Kingdom await the decision of the emperor.The campaign to secure the border from China to Iraq has reached a strange impasse. Two blood enemies have united against their common cause. But with the lives of thousands at his whim, the exalted Tsao Ch'un, the Son of Heaven, cannot decide. Destroy the Middle East in one blinding flash? Or take another path?

In the court of Tsao Ch'un, men of power have become smiling lackeys, whose graces conceal their fear, or their ambition. With his family held hostage by the empire, General Jiang Lei finds himself appointed to a special task: the orchestration of the last great war against the West. The total dominion of America.

But life in the world of levels continues. No hint of war, or want, or discontent can infiltrate the oppressive, ordered society that replaces the world Jake Reed once knew. Since the first airships rolled over the horizon, nothing has been the same. His new life means new thinking, new customs, a new way of behaving, and with his every move scrutinized, Jake can only serve the bureaucracy of new China. But he is not the only citizen who feels discontent with the anodyne new order...

My Thoughts: Now short of an entry in The BoSS in advance of its release, I haven't actually blogged about Son of Heaven at all. That is to say the first book of the re-envisioned Chung Kuo, a now twenty volume-long sf series Corvus have hopes of publishing over the next couple of years. 

However! Behind the scenes, I've actually spent an inordinate amount of time reading Son of Heaven, and then writing about it... at some length. The resulting review should see the light of day sooner now rather than later - I'll tell you when - and I aim to polish off Daylight on Iron Mountain (actually the second half of the single new introductory volume Wingrove wrote to bring the series up to speed) sometime between now and then; it's the decent thing to do, after all.

House of Fear
edited by Jonathan Oliver

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/10/11
by Rebellion

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: The tread on the landing outside the door, when you know you are the only one in the house...

The wind whistling through the eves, carrying the voices of the dead...

The figure glimpsed briefly through the cracked window of a derelict house...

Editor Jonathan Oliver brings horror home with a collection of haunted house stories by some of the finest writers working in the horror genre, including Joe R. Lansdale, Sarah Pinborough, Lisa Tuttle, Christopher Priest, Adam L. G. Nevill, Nicholas Royle, Chaz Brenchley, Christopher Fowler, Gary Kilworth, Weston Ochse, Eric Brown, Tim Lebbon, Nina Allan, Stephen Volk, Paul Meloy and more.

My Thoughts: I never did review The End of the Line, did I?

My bad! It wasn't a perfect anthology, as I recall, but it was worth my time, and it would have been yours too, I expect, if you were (or indeed are) in the least interested in some solid short horror fiction.

House of Fear, from those stories I've cherry-picked from it, is very much more of the same -- but better. Better by far, in fact. Certainly there've been far fewer duds in this timely collection of haunted house stories; though there's room for a few yet.

Expect a full review sometime... spooky! :)

The Uninnocent: Stories
by Bradford Morrow

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 05/12/11
by Pegasus Books

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Bradford Morrow's stories have garnered him awards such as the O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes and have given him a devoted following. Now gathered here for the first time is a collection of his finest, gothic tales. 

A young man whose childhood hobby of collecting sea shells and birds’ nests takes a sinister turn when he becomes obsessed with acquiring his brother’s girlfriend, in 'The Hoarder' (selected as one of the Best American Noir Stories of the Century). An archeologist summoned to attend his beloved sister’s funeral is astonished to discover it is not she who has died, but someone much closer to him, in 'Gardener of Heart.' A blind motivational speaker has a crisis of faith when he suddenly regains his sight, only to discover life was better lived in the dark, in 'Amazing Grace.'

In all of these stories, readers will find themselves enthralled and captivated by one of the most potent voices in contemporary American fiction.

My Thoughts: And from one short story collection to another. When it rains, eh?

Of course, I really did adore The Diviner's Tale, when I read it for review back in January, and given that it remains among my favourite novels of 2011 - it's not been a year full of surprises otherwise, has it? - The Uninnocent is a gimme for a Short Fiction Corner or two at the very least. Bedtime reading, I do declare!

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
by John le Carre

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 04/08/11
by Sceptre

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: The enduring novel by one of our greatest storytellers.

George Smiley, who is a troubled man of infinite compassion, is also a single-mindedly ruthless adversary as a spy.

The scene which he enters is a Cold War landscape of moles and lamplighters, scalp-hunters and pavement artists, where men are turned, burned or bought for stock. Smiley's mission is to catch a Moscow Centre mole burrowed thirty years deep into the Circus itself.

My Thoughts: Would you look at that! It's only baby's first John le Carre. :)

I've been hearing about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for what feels like a lifetime, and this movie tie-in edition seems to me the perfect opportunity to get caught up on what I understand to be among the best of the back-catalogue of books by an author many readers swear by.

I really must read it before I see the film, though; knowing me that'd only be another nail in its coffin, because much as I might profess a preference for books over movies... movies are quicker. And time is ever of the essence, isn't it?

Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 30/06/11
by Sceptre

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: "Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies..."

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagans California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation. The narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each others echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his extraordinary novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

My Thoughts: Yes, Cloud Atlas.

Yes, Cloud Atlas, in a funny new format.

I've been hearing about these new-fangled flipbacks for a while now, but I'll be brutal: until I actually laid hands on one, I couldn't for the life of me see the appeal. Then I laid hands on one. Now I do!

They're dinky, pocket-sized editions with bible pages and a strange aspect ratio -- which mightn't sound particularly marvelous, but seeing, in this case, might just be believing. We'll see.

Admittedly, it doesn't hurt that there's also the appeal of a book by a terrific author I never quite got around to finishing... or even reading beyond the first third. I know, I know; shame on me. But really, when isn't there shame on me?


Well, that's it for the week in books received, boys and girls. See you all soon. *waves*

In the meantime, given that I've fessed up to not one but two huge literary oversights this week, would anyone else care to share their deepest, darkest reading secrets?

It won't go any further than here, I swears it!


  1. I haven't heard of this flipback thingummy. But I like the tactile experience of bible pages (weird, I know) so if they show up in Singapore I'll check one out :)

  2. I can't get past the Sloosha's crossing bit in Cloud Atlas. I keep thinking 'Riddley Walker was a hundred times better' and putting it down. I think I just need to take a break from it and come back when I haven't a stinking head cold.

  3. Get well soon, Celine!

    I'm ashamed to say I'd never even heard of Riddley Walker before you mentioned it just now; my ignorance knows no bounds. :/

    But ordered, since you speak of it so highly.

  4. Squee. I love introducing folks to Riddley Walker!
    Beware, it is a bit of a marmite book. In fact I picked it up and put it down twice over the course of two years before suddenly being in the right head space for it. Then I INHALED it. A work of genius imo. I hope you love it :)