February 01, 2004

Books to be Excited About

by Alan Beatts

We just placed our orders for all the books that will be coming out in the late spring and summer from Tor books and I thought a little preview of what I'm excited about might be of interest.
First off, I just finished reading an advance copy of WHITE DEVILS by Paul McAuley. I hadn't read anything by McAuley before and I was quite impressed. WHITE DEVILS is set in Africa (specifically the Congo) in the near future and the main story deals with the discovery and investigation of a pack of apparently genetically engineered apes that have savagely attacked and killed several groups of people in the bush. Though it starts out as a straightforward "find the monsters, deal with them and the government cover-up" story, I quickly found that almost nothing was as it seemed. Instead of the typical black and white treatment that I anticipated, WHITE DEVILS treats complex subjects like the consequences and problems of genetic engineering, the relation between large corporations and third world countries, and the problems of post-colonial Africa with an even-handedness and a degree of understanding that I found refreshing. McAuley's ability to combine those qualities with believable, sympathetic characters and an engaging and suspenseful story puts him high on my list of notable talents. The book is out this month in hardcover from Tor and I highly recommend it.

Publisher schedules sometimes produce really notable months and it looks like June is going to be one of those. We'll be getting yet another Ringworld novel, RINGWORLD'S CHILDREN by Larry Niven. Though I have found some of Niven's recent work a bit disappointing, I've always loved his Known Space stories, especially the Ringworld books, and I expect that this novel will deliver at least several hours of entertainment. If you've never read any of Niven's work, I would suggest starting with either TALES OF KNOWN SPACE or, if your taste doesn't run to short stories, PROTECTOR or A WORLD OF PTAVVS. After any of those books you'll be ready to jump into the Ringworld books (RINGWORLD, RINGWORLD ENGINEERS, and THE RINGWORLD THRONE).

Also in June will be the first US publication of GARDENS OF THE MOON by Steven Erikson. This is the first of the lengthy (five books published in the UK thus far) Malazan Books of the Fallen series which have previously only been available in the UK. I know that many of our customers are already familiar with the series but for those of you who aren't, it is arguably the second best fantasy series going after G.R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. For any book collectors / speculators out there, this series is going to be very big in the US and since there were no previous hardcovers of the first three books in the series, first printings may become quite desirable.

Last but far from least, June will also see the release of Ken MacLeod's new stand-alone novel, NEWTON'S WAKE. I haven't heard very much about it yet but here are a few "word-bites" -- Post computational singularity -- Scottish organized crime families -- competition between colony worlds -- cut-throat space traders. Given MacLeod's track record I'm expecting a damn good book.

The last forthcoming book that I'm going to mention is KINDLING, the newest book from Mick Farren. I'm really looking forward to this alternate history romp. In Mick's own words (courtesy of Funtopia http://www.thanatosoft.freeserve.co.uk/ ) -- " . . . What we have here is an alternative history work in an approximately parallel time to the present, except, in this world, the Crusades never happened and scientific progress was considerably slower, Islam and Christianity never assumed the same dominance, and the Industrial Revolution and the "discovery" of America both got off to a much later start. To cap it all, the highly unpleasant Mosul Empire roared out of Asia Minor some two hundred years earlier, and, in an unholy alliance with the Teutons and Mamalukes, placed all of Northern Africa, and Eastern and Southern Europe under a tyrannical police-state theocracy and were only stopped at the English Channel by the Norse Union of Britain and Scandinavia."

"The action of the book takes place in an America where the only European settlements are a string of Kingdoms and Republics along the East Coast, while the rest of the continent is firmly in the hands of the native tribes and confederations. The Mosul under Hassan IX have just invaded from across the ocean, establishing a colonial beachhead in what would be Virginia. The techno level is kinda Victorian steam punk, with trains, airships, and some big nasty automatic artillery, but with an awful lot of Davy Crockett stuff thrown in for good measure. And just for even better measure, the paranormal plays a far greater part than it does in our world, and also allows for a lengthy visit by the inter-dimensional Yancey Slide (currently starring in his own web serial right here on Funtopia), plus guest spots by Johnny Cash, James Dean, Elvis, and JFK, who have very different job descriptions. Thus I can promise you cavalry charges and trench warfare, political satire, epic heroics, and weird shamanism, nasty sex, and nastier religions, public executions, and rip-snorting good fun."

KINDLING will be out in hardcover from Tor in August and we hope to be hosting a signing with Mick in August or September. We are, of course, happy to accept pre-orders for these or any other forthcoming titles.

Until next month, keep warm.