Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Recent book arrivals

Here are some book arrivals from June and July 2012.

This is a new translation of the seminal Soviet-era novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. The translation is by Olena Bormashenko and it restores a fair amount of text that was excised from earlier editions. James Morrow does a side-by-side comparison of translations at the Locus Roundtable. The story was made into one of the greatest of all science fiction films, Stalker, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (follow here for a short review). The film itself is the subject of a book-length analysis, Zona by Geoff Dyer (LA Times review of Zona). The new edition of Roadside Picnic includes a brief introduction by Ursula K. LeGuin and a fascinating afterward by Boris Strugatsky on the conception of the novel and the difficulties he and his brother had in getting it published in the Soviet Union, including specific passages that the censors objected to. I've included the brilliant Robert Penn Warren epigraph above.

Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey (actually the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) is the second book in their "Expanse" series, following Leviathan Wakes, which is currently nominated for the best novel Hugo Award. (Hugo voting closes at the end of this month.)

Unlike the first two books, which are new, Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter came out in 2011. This is the U.S. hardback edition. First in a trilogy.

The new book Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010 by Damien Broderick and Paul Di Filippo is a sort of sequel to the earlier Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels 1949-1984 by David Pringle, published in 1985. Pringle contributes a forward to the new book. As with the earlier book, there is plenty here to argue with and discuss. I'm pleased to see consideration given here to books by Gene Wolfe, Paul Park, Karen Joy Fowler, Maureen McHugh, Kim Stanley Robinson, Justina Robson, M. John Harrison, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Ian R. MacLeod, to name a few favorites, although I sometimes disagree with which title is chosen for a given author. There are a few authors I was disappointed to see included here: Orson Scott Card and Audrey Niffenegger for instance. Series fiction is treated in a confusing manner, sometimes listing groups of books, such as The Hunger Games trilogy, and at other times a single title of a book that does not stand alone and should be read as part of larger narrative. There are several I haven't read and hope to get around to reading, even some I had never heard of before, which is fun. Since the contents pages, above, only list the titles of the books being discussed, you can play along with the game of how many of the books can you name the author.

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2012 edited by Rich Horton is the latest in a series of year's best anthologies. The stories are actually all from 2011, of course, from diverse sources and are reprinted here in 2012. Judging from the stories I've read so far, it's a pretty good year.

In an unprecedented move, The New Yorker dedicated a June double-issue to the science fiction genre, both fiction and non-fiction. The Daniel Clowes cover has the science fiction genre crashing the party. A couple interior illustrations give a sense of the look of the issue.

The Laughter of Carthage by Michael Moorcock is the second in his Colonel Pyat Quartet. This is the 1984 first U.S. hardback edition. The first volume in the series was Byzantium Endures. PM Press is reissuing the series in trade paperback this year.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce is the latest novel from the acclaimed British author, unjustly not well known in the U.S.

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen, published in 2006, was discussed in the book Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010, above. I'd never heard of it. It looks quite fun.

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois, is the biggest, in terms of word-count, of the best of the year science fiction anthologies, and the longest running. Each year it keeps readers abreast of the best short fiction in the genre, and highlights new authors whose work readers should seek out. It's fascinating to compare the contents of this anthology with those of the Horton, above, and the year's best anthologies by Strahan and Hartwell & Cramer mentioned in earlier posts.

The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross, is the fourth book in the author's Laundry Files series, a Lovecraft-flavored espionage thriller series. The epigraph is the timeless Peter Principle.

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