Sunday, 23 October 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 23/10/11

In The BoSS this week: IQ84.

Oh yes. :)

Also other books. And I mean no slight to them - none at all - but seriously: IQ84.

That's my week's reading sorted, then!


by Haruki Murakami

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 25/10/11
by Harvill Secker

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo. 

Her work is not the kind which can be discussed in public but she is in a hurry to carry out an assignment and, with the traffic at a stand-still, the driver proposes a solution. She agrees, but as a result of her actions starts to feel increasingly detached from the real world. She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult.

Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true?

Both Aomame and Tengo notice that the world has grown strange; both realise that they are indispensable to each other. While their stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, the two come closer and closer to intertwining. 

My Thoughts: I've actually had this for a couple of weeks - long enough to have read books one and two in full - but an embargo meant we couldn't chat about it. Actually, we still can't, because oddly, the thing I signed is in effect through the 25th.

But IQ84! It could be Haruki Murakami's seminal work. It's certainly been a long time coming; after all, After Dark was hardly longer than a novella, and Kafka on the Shore (my first and as yet my favourite Murakami) was nearly ten years ago. Not since I got my grubby paws on The Islanders by Christopher Priest have I been half so excited about a book that's arrived for review.

Stay tuned for more on IQ84, folks. Much more.

The Vampire Shrink
by Lynda Hilburn

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/08/11
by Jo Fletcher Books

Review Priority
2 (It Could Happen)

The Blurb: Kismet Knight is a young psychologist with a growing clinical practice, and she's always looking for something to give her the edge in her chosen career. When her new client turns out to be a Goth teenager who desperately wants to become a vampire, Kismet is inspired to become the vampire shrink, offering her services to people who believe they are undead. Kismet herself, as a scientist, knows it's hokum, but she's looking at it in a purely psychoanalytic light, already imagining the papers she's going to write on this strange subculture. That's until she meets the leader of a vampire coven, a sexy, mysterious man who claims to be a powerful 800-year-old vampire, and she is pulled into a whirlwind of inexplicable events that start her questioning everything she once believed about the paranormal.

My Thoughts: Hmmm.

Never mind that I'm all in a tizzy about IQ84 this week, I've been keen to see what's to come from Jo Fletcher Books for quite a while... Jo Fletcher Books being a new genre fiction imprint under the Quercus Books umbrella, headed up by Gollancz's former associate publisher, moved on to pastures new.0

Alas, The Vampire Shrink is resolutely not the introduction to the imprint I'd have liked. I've read a little and, I'm sorry... it's just not for me. I'm sure it'll sell, but no.

So what I'm going to do - because there are actually a whole load of lovely-looking books to come from JFB further down the line - what I'm going to do is pretend that last week's John Ajvide Lindquist (which you'll be hearing more about this week) was actually the launch title of this exciting new imprint, and not this bottom-of-the-barrel paranormal romance.

Given which, long live Jo Fletcher Books!

by Scott Westerfeld

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 21/09/11
by Simon & Schuster

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Alek and Dylan are back onboard the Leviathan!

The ship is ordered to pick up Tesla, a Russian inventor who has created a machine he claims can destroy half of the world, which he is using as a threat to impose peace. Alek wants to the end the war, so decides to back Tesla politically, as do the Darwinists. Meanwhile Dylan is still pretending to be a boy, though Alek has figured out her true identity, and promises to keep her secret.

With stops in New York, California and Mexico, Dylan and Alek encounter adventure and intrigue at every turn, but when a secret German plan to sabotage Tesla's machine leads to a heart-stopping stand-off, as Tesla threatens to fire his weapon, it's up to the two of them to stop him - or face the end of the world for real...

My Thoughts: After Leviathan came Behemoth. Now, on the tail of Behemoth, comes Goliath.

It sure looks pretty. But steampunk and me, we don't exactly get on; Cherie Priest seems to have single-handedly seen to that. Nevertheless, the allure of a complete trilogy - particularly one so profusely and beautifully illustrated as these three pretties, stood together on my shelf - is no little thing, and I've heard so many people say such nice things about Westerfeld's work that I admit, the idea of reading Leviathan through Goliath is an appealing prospect.

So do you think I should? After Halloween and Murakami and The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin, that is.

Gosh, I've got my work cut out for me, haven't I? :)

Bronze Summer
by Stephen Baxter 

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 15/09/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Centuries have passed. The wall that Ana's people built has long outlasted her and history has been changed. The British Isles are still one with the European mainland and Doggerland has become a vibrant and rich land. So rich that it has drawn the attention of the Greeks. An invasion is mounted and soon Greek Biremes are grinding ashore on a coastline we never knew... the world will be changed forever.

Stephen Baxter's new series catapults forward from pre-history into the ancient world and charts a new and wonderful story for our world. This is a superb example of Baxter's belief that anything is possible for mankind - even making a new world.

My Thoughts: Though I've found a lot to like about Stephen Baxter's science fiction in the past, I'm sorry to say I never did get around to reading last year's Stone Spring. But the trilogy marches on! 

From the sidelines, still, Bronze Summer seems as vast in scope as its predecessor, and thought that expansiveness appeals, to a certain extent, I wonder, does this trilogy have any time for its characters, such as they are? 

I really would love to hear from someone who's read Stone Spring. Should I take the time to get caught up on this series, do you think, or would I be better off with one or another of the classic Stephen Baxter novels I haven't had the pleasure of?


That's all for this week, everyone. To no-one's surprise, I imagine, I'll have my nose buried in book three of IQ84 for the foreseeable, but what about the rest of you? Anything good I've overlooked?


  1. Gaaaaaaaah, the Leviathan trilogy is Dieselpunk, it's not Steampunk. I'm going to beat the marketer to death with a barking beastie for that. Argh! Sorry, Niall, not a dig at you, but it makes it clear that it's dieselpunk so why it's marketed as steampunk is beyond me.

    I thought Goliath was mostly more of the same, but with a good and bad finale. Well, I'm sure you can guess what happens in Goliath, but really I'd say pass if you've got more interesting books to read. It really is a by-the-book read (Pun not intended).

    If I had to criticise it, it's that I felt Westerfeld forgot the attitude and behaviour of a certain ladyboffin, and that he stretched Deryn/Dylan's hiding way too far. I didn't buy it in Leviathan, I certainly didn't buy it in Goliath.

  2. That's kind of disappointing. The pictures are so pretty! But of course beauty is only diesel deep.

    I've never understood all this somethingpunk business anyway. Cyberpunk, sure... that made sense. But since? Literary lunacy.

  3. It's to do with the setting and technology, Niall.

    Steampunk uses, oddly enough, steam power. So the fuels tend to be things like coal, I guess. Often they have a Victorian feel to the setting, too. As for Dieselpunk, the technology is more advanced (as you may know from Leviathan/Behemoth, which have combustion engines and things) and the setting is a little bit more advanced.