Read in September

Before I get into the list, let me backtrack. When I started Antick Musings, I edited SFF professionally, and so didn't write much about genre fiction -- certainly not in a critical way. And I insisted that I didn't do reviews or criticism; I did write about books I read, but not in a systematic way.

Well, that SFF-editing job ended abruptly, and my subsequent job was in a different part of publishing entirely. (Though I still try to keep to the same general rule: I don't shit where I eat, so I only talk briefly and mostly positively about business books, except for occasional potshots at those evil, money-grubbing bastards, the consultants.)

Gradually -- in the manner of a frog being boiled -- Antick Musings moved from being a general blog by someone who worked in book publishing into a book blog, and then into almost exclusively a book-review blog, in which I covered every last book I read in an essay-like post. (The year-long Book-A-Day stretch of 2010 and early 2011 mostly accomplished this.) This isn't what I intended, and -- though it's taken a while to realize it -- isn't what I want, either.

So I'm going to try to go back to something I've said several times and never quite lived up to: covering all of the books I read in a given month by (approximately) the end of that month, and tossing them quickly into a month-end post if need be. Yes, it's more elegant to have an essay, each with its own post, for every book I read, but I don't think many of you care about most of these books and it's a huge commitment of time and energy when my day-job is sucking ever more of both out of me every day.

(I'm happy to write essay-like posts on occasion when someone else wants to pay me for them -- and I'm open to offers of egoboo, traffic, and other non-convertible currencies -- but doing them for everything here strikes me as overkill.)

Those quick takes might still end up being separate posts, if they're long enough (I have a vague longer-than-the-book-cover metric that I use), and they have for a lot of the books below. Even when I proclaim I've got a new, specific, organized way of doing things, I still manage to overcomplicate things; I've sat on this post for a week, trying to get the missing reviews "done" before I posted it. Finally, with enough sleep and free time on a Saturday, I'm closing it up and backdating it to where it belongs -- there will be some edits for links (and maybe to add short reviews here) later, but there always is, anyway.

Kazu Kibuishi, Explorer: The Mystery Boxes (9/4)

Laura Lee Gulledge, Paige by Paige (9/4)

Seymour Chwast, Dante's Divine Comedy (9/6)

William Carlos Williams, Paterson (9/6) -- It's one of the great long poems in the English language, and (I think) one of the most purely American great poems. It's also about the closest large city to me -- but, mostly, it's about how a man is a city, or a city is a man, or a river is a life, or how poetry can encompass absolutely everything in a life or a mind. It's difficult to describe, though I've never found it difficult to read. And I've now read it once a decade for the last three, getting a new copy each time, though not on purpose. If you only know Williams from the wheelbarrow or the plums in the icebox, you're missing a lot. No ideas but in things!

(The cover above is the prior edition -- the one I read 5 or 7 or 10 years ago -- not the current one, which doesn't seem to exist anywhere online.)

Mark Kalasniko, Freeway (9/7)

Daniel Pinkwater, Bushman Lives! (9/10) -- This one deserves a real essay, and will get one. The short form: Pinkwater's novels are all good, but some are magnificent. This is one of the magnificent ones.

David Malki!, Dapper Caps and Pedal-Copters (9/17)

Doug TenNapel, Cardboard (9/18)

Kazu Kibuishi, Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves (bound galleys) (9/19) -- I've covered all four previous books in reasonable depth: one, two, three, four. And this volume is more middle, like the last book but even more so. It's an entertaining graphic novel series for tweens, but not much more than that -- any comparisons with Jeff Smith's Bone are quite strained. Still, Kibuishi tells a good story, and I still have hopes that he'll hit a point when he stops complicating it and starts knitting it back together for a big finish. But, for now, it's enough to note that it exists, it's very popular, and it's pretty good for what it is.

Susan Cain, Quiet (9/20)

Raina Telgemeier, Drama (bound galleys) (9/21)

Garth Mueller, Frommer's Los Angeles Day by Day (9/22) -- I'm holding this one to review it with a similar book from the Lonely Planet folks. Honestly, I should probably wait until after my big vacation to review all of the travel books, since only then will I be able to really say how useful they were. But I won't.

Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (9/25)

Andi Watson & Tommy Ohtuska, 15-Love (9/26)

William Gibson, Distrust That Particular Flavor (9/27)

Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: Book Three: The Score (9/28)

I do plan to keep writing essay-like posts for books that I think deserve them, or that will be of greater interest to the people I think are reading this blog. (I look at traffic figures every so often, and continue to be amazed that people actually are reading this blog.) That probably means SFF, most of the time, but I've learned by this point not to make promises.

The Heart of the Matter

Tillknycklad av kärlek, fas 4
1996 stod jag på Sjöhistoriska muséets gräsmatta i Stockholm då Eagles gav en utomhus-konsert en ljummen sommarkväll. Strax innan de började en akustisk avdelning hade vi flyttat fram för att se lite bättre. Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter" tog vid. Jag hade alltid gillat Henleys elektriska solo-version, men detta tog mig med storm. Marken verkade ostadig och jag vet att jag stod där och tårarna rann nerför mina kinder, av både frustration och över att bli berörd djupt in i själen. En ny styrka fanns oväntat och vägen tillbaka hade börjat...

EDIT: Borttagen video: Annan länk finns här!
Och: En elektrisk live-version!

The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I'd figured out
I have to learn again
- Don Henley

En av de riktigt stora sångerna! En ödmjuk skildring av vikten att förlåta, hur omöjligt det än kan verka. En uppgörelse med dig själv och ett ställningstagnade att gå vidare. Trots allt...

In Which Robots Are Not As Effective As They Think They Are

Inspired by James Nicoll, I ran my two blogs through two sophisticated analysis engines of the Internet -- aw, who am I kidding? They're both probably hack-jobs put together by a couple of geeks in their spare time, like everything else on the 'net. But it's amusing anyway.

Antick Musings:
Editorial Explanations:
That's a huge gap in my gender between two things I write regularly -- 39% of difference. Is it because EE is mostly made up of short posts and dripping in sarcasm? Or is it the stench of politics that drives women away?

Interestingly, the collective wisdom of the crowd is that AgeAnalyzer is less correct -- 59% of the votes are currently "no" -- even though that's not my experience, and it has some wide bands (though still not as binary as male/female).

Does this mean anything at all? No, of course not. But it's yet another tool to poke through things that look like data, which I suppose is moderately useful, at the very least as a way to waste time.

Lyssna till regnet

Tillknycklad av kärlek, fas 3
Så var vi då framme vid nästa fas, då distansen börjar infinna sig och läkandet tar vid. Livet måste fortgå och någonstans så kommer ljuset igen, även om det kan ta sin tid.

Eric Andersen har ju skrivit starkt om kärlek under så lång tid och "Listen To The Rain" är inget undantag. Som balsam för en sargad själ.

Take your time
and rest your heart
Time will fade away your pain
Close your eyes
and take some time
Stop and listen to the rain
- Eric Andersen

Jag tror att vi skulle må bra av att lyssna till regnet lite oftare. Öppna ögonen och se, öppna alla sinnen för alla de intryck vi normalt inte ens registrerar.


Tillknycklad av kärlek, fas 2
I förra inlägget skrev jag om chocken när kärlek plötsligt tagit slut. Sen kommer de bittra anklagelserna och sökandet efter vägar att stå ut:

Det finns egentligen inget att tillägga till John Gorka's "Armed With A Broken Heart". För att överleva, kunna sova, stå ut, så kommer dessa anklagelser, avståndstagande, ja rentav en form av hat... Ingen har skildrat denna fas så mästerligt och ocensurerat som här. Jag minns hur jag ältade sådant här om och om igen. Låt mig aldrig behöva uppleva det igen!

Tillknycklad av kärlek

Det du upplever med alla dina sinnen är plötsligt inte där, bortsopat, förintat, utan att du märkt det minsta...

Några vänner har på kort tid blivit tillknycklade av kärlek, eller av kärlek som utan förvarning skurits av. Jag har varit där några gånger, så jag vet hur djävligt det är. Som om det fanns en hinna mellan dig själv och verkligheten. Men misär skapar stor kultur... Tänk hur stor del av alla sånger, dikter och böcker som skulle vara ogjorda om alla levde lyckliga i kärlek...

Först kommer chocken, ganska omgående framträder bitterheten och anklagelserna, efter ett tag distansen och insikten. Sedan kommer i bästa fall någon slags uppgörelse med dig själv. Sen sluts cirkeln och du är tillbaks till denna eviga längtan som tiden aldrig kan tämja.

Chocken kan ju komma helt oväntat eller växa fram:
Looking hard into your eyes
There was nobody I'd ever known
Such an empty surprise to feel so alone
- Jackson Browne

Jag har många gånger sagt att "Late For The Sky" med Jackson Browne är den starkaste sång som gjorts. Och det är den kanske. Fortfarande framkallar den rysningar och tårar hos mig, och ändå så gör den att jag mår så förbaskat bra... Tala om magiska krafter och skira känselspröt... Här en mindre känd, men helt suverän, live-version:

Now for me some words come easy
But I know that they don't mean that much
Compared with the things that are said when lovers touch
You never knew what I loved in you
I don't know what you loved in me
Maybe the picture of somebody you were hoping I might be
- Jackson Browne

Varje ton, varje klang från gitarr och piano, den känsliga sången, varje textrad, varje paus, varje inandning... är ett bidrag till att förstå kärlekens och livets vidunderliga svängningar lite bättre.

Trillions! Trillions! Trillions!

Most of the projects I work on for my day job never get mentioned here, because they're deeply technical and only of interest to accountants, CIOs, and similarly specialized business folks. But, once in a while, I do have something that's more exciting that that, and this is one of those times.

Yesterday was the official publication date for Trillions, a great book on what pervasive computing will mean for business and society, from three very smart and very savvy technologists/designers/thinkers, Peter Lucas, Joe Ballay, and Mickey McManus. They're all part of MAYA Design, a Pittsburgh firm that does amazing work on interface design and other things I don't even have the terminology to describe. (When I visited them last year to talk about marketing for Trillions, they showed off an amazing system called Visage that they created for DARPA to manage and control manifold real-time dataflows for a battlefield.)

So Trillions is genuinely visionary, and comes from three guys who really know and live this stuff. It's an exciting book to be (a tiny) part of.

I'd like to get more copies of Trillions out there, particularly in the hands of SF folks and influential Internet people. (And who else would be reading this blog?) In the past, I've sent out queries to people I knew on books of less direct interest to the field, but I think I've already outstayed that welcome. So, this time, I won't spam anyone; I'm just looking for inbound interest. I'll be happy to send a copy of Trillions to you if you'll read it and possibly blog/talk/write about it -- I'm not looking for guarantees, just interest. I might be able to swing e-books in some format as well, though it's still much easier to ship blocks of dead tree.

Check out the website, which has a bunch of fascinating videos about what MAYA has done and the topic of the book, and shoot me an e-mail if you're interested in a copy of Trillions.

C'mon! It's the only book at Wiley I've worked on that has a quote from a SF writer! (And probably the only one that ever will!)

"Trillions is bold, unabashed, ingenious, and absolutely fizzing with insights about the new-modern process of blending design, high-tech, and commerce. Always entertaining and mostly right on topic."
 - David Brin

Top Shelf Sale Extravaganza Aftermath!

Hey, remember a couple of weeks ago, when I told you Top Shelf was having a big sale, with lots of great books cheap? Well, the package I ordered -- that very day, for I am one to put my money onto the place where my mouth already is -- has just arrived, and you can see a picture of the awesome treasures it contained off to the left.

These amazing riches of comics cost well under a single C-note, which is a damn fine deal.

Normally, I would include links to Amazon for all of my new books, to make a few pennies for myself, but, this time, I want you to go to Top Shelf and buy comics from them. Quick -- the sale ends on Friday.

Tell 'em Hornswoggler sent you, and they'll just look at you funny!

Värt att kämpa för...

Jag såg "Par i Terapi" på TV i kväll, äntligen en vettig form av terapeutisk behandling, med människor som vill göra något åt sin situation. Ärligt och professionellt, så långt från t.ex.
"Dr. Phil":s självcentrerade dynga som man kan komma. Terapi är svårt, terapi på TV är ännu mycket svårare! Poul Perris arbetar både sympatiskt och utan att framhäva sitt eget ego. Han skulle nog behöva ha terapi med många TV-kändisar...

Just kampen för/om/i kärlek har fått ge namn åt Al Lewis nya skiva, "Battles". Som aptitretare publicerades samtidigt hans och Sarah Howells tolkning av Cheryl Cole's "Fight For This Love", som dock inte finns med på skivan. Originalet går mig tämligen spårlöst förbi, men det här är ruskigt bra! Imponerande hur det räcker med en bra låt, två trovärdiga röster och några enkla bilder för att göra en varm video om det allra viktigaste i livet.

Freeway by Mark Kalesniko

No matter how hard storyboard artists and other animation types try, a graphic novel is not the same as a movie, and limiting a comics page to entirely film-derived effects is just as crippling as any other unnecessary artistic limitation. (Writing a novel without the letter 'e," or an opera without the key of C, or trying to tape a live-to-tape sitcom with only one camera -- they can be interesting experiments, but the focus will always be on that live-wire act of the experiment, not the resulting product.)

Freeway is a graphic novel that feels like it desperately wants to be an animated movie, full of camera moves and pans and dissolves, caught up in an entirely film-derived visual vocabulary that denies the physical, tactile possibilities of page-turns and transitions. Mark Kalesniko does use varied panel sizes and placements, but those feel like camera motions -- zooming in and out, changing scenes with establishing shots, making very visual transitions into flashbacks or alternate possibilities -- rather than like pure comics. (Although I may think that because I know Kalesniko is an animator; an actual animator could disagree with me.)

Freeway is the story of both one day -- one morning commute, to be more precise -- and of the whole failed and shattered career of Alex Kalienka, who (like his creator) came to southern California as a young man to work in animation. Alex drives his AMC Pacer to his job as a layout artist at Walt Disney Studios Babbitt Jones Productions, a job that was his dream as a child but which is soul-destroying now for both personal and artistic reasons. Kalesniko doesn't explain anything, and I wasn't always sure what was a flashback, what was real, what was an alternate version of Alex's life, and what was pure fantasy. But Freeway dips in and out of all of those things, showing Alex's arrival in LA in 1979 as the requisite dewy-eyed Canadian youngster, how he got his job at Babbitt Jones -- and how his artistically-driven but politically unwise choices of friendships slowly got him into trouble -- how he met his girlfriend, and how their relationship suffered from the onslaught of her large Chinese family, and other events in his working life. But it also shows what seem to be entirely fantasy sequences -- as when Alex imagines his own death on the highway several times -- as well as a perfect version of his own life, lived in the late '40s, in which his girlfriend and work are both perfect and he's always happy. And the end of Freeway jumps ever-more-quickly among these different levels of reality -- often panel-to-panel -- leaving the reader confused about what "really" happened.

More frustrating is the timeline of Freeway. Both the fantasy life and Alex's first visit to LA are closely fixed in time -- in the late '40s and 1979, respectively -- but his Babbitt Jones career is fuzzier. He clearly didn't start working there until some time after that first trip -- but is "some time" one year? Five? A dozen? Any of those are plausible. And his career at Babbitt Jones doesn't seem to have lasted more than a handful of years -- so does that mean that the "now" of Freeway is set in the late '80s? Or the mid '90s? Or really "now"? (How old and decrepit are we meant to take that AMC Pacer?) My impression is that Freeway is meant to take place only about a decade or so after that first visit, that Alex is having his first crisis about the value of his work and the purpose of his life, some time in his early '30s. But the book never says that, and never makes it clear -- this is a book published in 2011, so the default reader assumption is that it's happening "now".

So Freeway is a frustrating book: lovely and thoughtful, but one that keeps the reader thinking about technical and story considerations (when is this taking place? is this scene real or memory or fantasy?) when he should be falling into Alex's life and experiencing his crisis directly. Freeway is very ambitious, but perhaps a little too much so: a little more clarity, and a little less flashy camera-work, would have made it flow better and punch harder. (And its lesson is unfortunately banal for anyone Alex's age or older: the working world, and the world in general, is not a wonderful, special place full of love and light and happiness, but work -- often unpleasant and always directed by someone else -- full of people that we don't get to choose.) Read Freeway for those masterful shifts of focus, from reality to fantasy to flashback, but keep your eye on it and all of your attention, so that it doesn't get away from you.

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/22

I have no particularly amusing opening for you this week, and for that I deeply, humbly apologize. Really. But we must soldier on anyway, and so I'll tell you that the below are the books and other ephemera that arrived on my doorstep over the past week, which I have not yet read. Here, then, is what I can tell you about them, in hopes that one or more of them will be your favorite whatever-it-is of the year or decade or week or hour.

First up is a comics collection, Wings for Wheels: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen, which comes in a neat pseudo-LP format, with a red 36-page "record" with six comics stories sitting inside a white "sleeve" with that swell wraparound art from Dan McCool that you can see above and to the left. Wings for Wheels is edited by Nomi Kane, who also contributes one of the six pieces as well -- other contributors are Todd McArthur, Jen May, Josh PM Frees, Jen Vaughn, and Pat Barrett. I imagine I got this because I'm a Jersey guy who reviews comics, and I'm very happy to see it: it's a great package with work by cartoonists I'm not familiar with, so it'll be a great sampler. My quick web research shows that it debuted at the recent SPX small-press comics show, and that you can get it either at other shows attended by the contributors or online at Kane's Brew for Breakfast webstore.

Along completely different lines is the young-readers "choose-your-fate adventure book" Wonder Woman: Power Outage by Michael Teitelbaum. It's one of those "if you go through the right door, turn to page 17" books that people my age remember from the '80s, with a storyline centered on Wondy losing her powers at random times for unknown reasons and a number of puzzles in the middle of the story. It's for readers from age 8-12 (or possibly strong readers a bit younger than that, and WW fans above that age), and will be published by Tor's Starscape imprint in paperback tomorrow.

Vertical, a prominent publisher of smart and interesting books from Japan in translation (including a lot of Osamu Tezuka books over the past few years) has a couple of new manga series starting this month, and first up is Keiko Suenobu's Limit. It's a look at bullying and cliques in a high school setting, and -- since Suenobu is best known for her Kodansha Award-winning shojo story Life (which included elements of self-mutilation, rape and suicide), it's not likely to be a quiet or renormalizing story.

Also from Vertical and also set in a highschool -- though looking to be slightly less dramatic, is a new edition of Paradise Kiss from AiYazawa (best known here for Nana). This classic josei story of high fashion will be published in three volumes this time around.

Max Gladstone's first novel is Three Parts Dead, which clearly spurns all conventional pigeonholes to instead strike out on its own: it seems to be, more or less, a necromantic steampunk legal thriller set in a quirky secondary world. Our heroine, Tara, must resurrect the fire god Kos before his city falls apart -- and, of course, it will not be that simple. Three Parts Dead has admiring quotes from writers as diverse as Carrie Vaughn, Jerry Pournelle, James Morrow, and John Crowley (whom I don't recall seeing blurb anything for a long time, if ever), and will be a Tor hardcover hitting stores October 2nd.

I have to admit I don't really understand the thrust of Walter Mosley's current writing project for Tor, "Crosstown to Oblivion," which will eventually consist of six novellas published in three volumes -- probably because I haven't yet read the first duo, The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin. But the second volume -- again, two novellas, this time entitled Merge and Disciple
-- will be published by Tor in hardcover on October 12th, and Mosley remains one of the most interesting contemporary American writers, so it's certainly worth a look. (See the opening paragraph of my review of Mosley's novel Killing Johnny Fry for a sketch of my brief for Mosley as a major American writer; I don't think it makes sense to continue to qualify him as "mystery" or "African-American" at this point.)

And last for this week is The Skybound Sea, the finale of Sam Sykes's Aeons' Gate trilogy. It's big, dark epic fantasy, and it has one of the best blurbs I've seen in a long time: "I do not wish Sam Sykes dead." -- John Scalzi. How can you resist that? Skybound Sea is a trade paperback from Pyr, which hit stores two weeks ago.

Dapper Caps and Pedal-Copters by David Malki!

I find it very hard to fault a man who includes an exclamation mark in his name, so don't look to me for serious criticism of David Malki!'s latest Wondermark collection, Dapper Caps & Pedal-Copters.

Dapper Caps is the fourth collection of the Wondermark webcomic, and -- like all collections of periodical comics, though even more so since webcomics started outcompeting newspaper strips -- it's basically a compendium of stuff you could have read, or perhaps already did read, elsewhere. But if that didn't stop your kid brother from amassing the world's largest collection of Garfield books, why should it stop you from getting a Wondermark collection?

As usual, Malki! takes old art, primarily Victorian, and twists it to his own ends, creating quirky, unconventional dialogues among diverse creatures and people -- his humor is often dark, and always at right-angles to expectations, which is just what I look for in humor. There are rarely continuing characters -- except the alien Gax, for some reason -- so you can start reading Wondermark anywhere: the beginning, this book, today's strip, or a random point in the archives.

Dapper Caps is funny, and weird, and overdesigned in that silly Wondermark way -- if you're not familiar with that, check out the online strip to see if it hits your particular funnybone.

The Most Meta Post Yet

Blogger, in its relentless Googleicious quest to make everything as stark and white and difficult to navigate as possible, has made the new design mandatory, as of a couple of days ago.

But it's still ugly, and still more difficult to use, and all of the problems it had before. It's dull and bland and I hates it.

(And now I have a new excuse for not blogging! Yea me!)

In Which a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

All that talk about the 47% not paying taxes and being "takers" is bunk -- you know that, right? (See Ezra Klein for the details, if you disagree.)

And, also from Klein, is this graphic, which combines all US tax burdens (state, local, and federal) to show that we'll all paying tax, and that the very rich are actually paying slightly less, as a percentage of income, than those of us in the middle. (You may think that's hunky-dory, which I respect, but you do need to admit what is actually true.)

Vägran att ge upp...

Blåklockan står där på min tomt bland högt gräs och vissna löv och vägrar acceptera att det är höst och att den nog borde lagt ner verksamheten precis som sina kompisar gjorde för en månad sen... Envist blommar den vidare och struntar fullkomligt i vad andra säger eller tycker. Än finns det krafter kvar!

Tänk, vad vore mänskligheten utan alla eldsjälar som vägrar ge upp, de som aldrig säger att
"det tjänar ändå inget till..." De som envist hävdar att det aldrig är för sent och tror att vi kan förändras och styra utvecklingen mot ett humanare och mer rättvist samhälle.

Tack alla ni kända och okända vänner som kämpar vidare... Ni som vågar vara obekväma, vägrar att följa med strömmen, ni som tänker själva och tar konsekvenserna av det ni ser.
Ni som utan att tveka går som ett åskmoln, tvärt emot den rådande vinden...

"Allt rusar in vidare i mardrömmen
och ingen tycks veta varför
Och förändringarna dom tar hundratals år
Det går långsamt,
så långsamt
men, Isabella,
det går...!!"
- Ulf Lundell

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/15

It's Monday once again, so I'll regale you with details of the stuff that arrived on my doorstep last week. (Yes, it's a man's life reviewing books on the Internet.) As usual, I haven't read any of these books yet -- in fact, what I've done with them, up to this second, is opened their packages and placed them gently onto a pile on my desk -- so what I have to tell you has the slight chance of being somewhat inaccurate. But I'll do my best to avoid that, and to tell you whatever are the most wonderful/interesting/compelling things about each of these books, since your favorite book is not necessarily the same as mine.

But, just in case your favorite book is the same as mine: I'll start with that. Chris Ware's most recent massive comics project (after Rusty Brown and Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and the various other things he's bundled into ACME Novelty Library over the years) has been Building Stories: a series of separate stories about the residents of one apartment building, appearing in different publications over the past decade. But now Building Stories has completed construction: it will be published, as a single artifact, by Pantheon on October 2nd. But Building Stories is not a book: it's a box containing 14 different comics objects (two hardcover books, one softcover, several pamphlets of radically different sizes -- including a couple at broadsheet size -- and a fold-out printed in what looks like a board-game format). It's a fascinating experiment in narrative, and many people will try to convince you over the next few months that it's not "comics" or a "graphic novel" because of that. But it is comics -- a massive, proliferating, expansive exploration of many of the ways comics can tell stories -- and so you must deny anyone who says that: this is comics, it's just really good comics.

It's also time for the monthly mass-market paperbacks from DAW, and the three that will be hitting shelves and wire racks near you in October are:
  • Changes, a Valdemar novel by Mercedes Lackey, and the third in her "Collegium Chronicles" sub-series -- I see from the card page that there will be at least one more, Redoubt, so this is not the end of a trilogy.
  • The Ninth Circle, fifth in the Military SF adventures of the redoubtable ship U.S.S. Merrimack by R.M. Meluch.
  • And Sand Witches in the Hamptons, fifth in Celia Jerome's urban fantasy series about a comics-artist-turned-magician named Willow Tate, which is, as the astute reader may have realized, set in New York City's playgrounds of the rich, the Hamptons.
Clay and Susan Griffith's alternate-historical vampire epic Vampire Empire hits its third book with The Kingmakers, which was published by Pyr on September 3rd. (This is the series where the vampires have conquered the temperate regions of the world, and regular humans -- who, from the covers of the books, all look to be pretty pale themselves -- are fighting back from the hot tropical regions.)

Swedish horror writer John Ajvide Lindqvist is still best known for Let the Right One In, his novel about a boy's unsettling friendship with an ancient vampire who looks like a girl his age (partially because that novel was made into movies both in Sweden and the US), but he's written a number of other novels (I saw his Harbor in a trade paperback edition just a couple of weeks ago). And his 2010 novel Lilla Stjarna has been translated into English as Little Star, publishing from Thomas Dunne Books on October 2nd. This one is about a baby girl, found in the Swedish woods in the early '90s, and the teenager she becomes fifteen years later, when she enters a TV singing contest. And it is a horror novel.

Steven Erikson has not let the end of his main "Malazan Book of the Fallen" series slow him down -- barely a year after the end of that series with The Crippled God, he's back with the first book in a new trilogy in the same world. Forge of Darkness, the first book in the Kharkanas Trilogy, is set in the deep past of the original series, in the warren of Kurald Galain, apparently at a time when the Tiste people had not yet been split into three. It's a Tor hardcover, available September 18th.

And last for this week is the newest book from Tom Pomplun's Graphic Classics line, Halloween Classics, which has 140 pages of comics based on classic tales of monsters and mayhem from writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Washington Irving. Creators involved include Matt Howarth, Rod Lott, Simon Gane, Jeffrey Johannes, Nick Miller, Antonella Caputo, and Pomplun himself. It'll be in comics shops and other retailers any day now -- in plenty of time for the holiday -- and, like the others in the series, it can be a great way to introduce reluctant prose readers (possibly including yourself) to the work of great writers while still being very entertaining at the same time.

West of Eden på Josef's i Eskilstuna

West of Eden, Josef's House of Blues, Eskilstuna, 2012-09-15, arr. Tontroll

West of Eden från Göteborg har funnits i femton år och har fått många recensenter att jubla och goda omdömen blandas med rent lyriska. Ändå väntar de fortfarande på det riktigt stora
"lyftet". Vad krävs egentligen?
- De spelar en elegant och ambitiös folk-rock-pop med klara irländska influenser.
- De har gjort sju riktigt bra skivor.
- De har en sångerska, Jenny Schaub, med en röst och utstrålning som skulle kunna få vem som helst till både tårar och innerlig glädje.
- De (Martin och Jenny Schaub) skriver sånger med både klass, innehåll och melodier som känns självklara ofta redan efter första lyssningen.
- De har ett tätt sound och det finns utrymme för både vackra klanger och riktigt ös.

De har nu spelat 4-5 gånger i Eskilstuna och en trogen skara kommer till Josef's denna lördagseftermiddag trots det fina sommarvädret utanför. Men var är alla andra? Det känns ruskigt orätttvist att inte fler utnyttjar tillfället att se West of Eden.

De började med flera låtar från "Safe Crossing", tema-skivan om livet på sjön och båtar i sjönöd. Kanske att det blev lite väl lägmält och de borde lagt in några fler up-tempo nummer för att få igång den lite tysta (och mätta?) publiken... Men snart lossnade det och ingen i publiken kunde låta bli att dras med i gunget som uppstod.

Jag saknade några av deras bästa sånger: Balladerna "I Still Remember How to Forget", "This Piece of Earth" och "Relationship" och de snabbare "Rollercoaster" "Anywhere the Wind Blows" och min favorit "Didn't you, Didn't I", För min del kunde de gärna spelat hela den näst senaste skivan "Travelogue", en riktig fullträff rakt igenom. Men varför gnälla om det vi inte fick, det fanns så mycket som var bra och kvällens (eller eftermiddagens) höjdare blev för min del
"Broken sky over Waterville ", "Chisel County" och "Scottish Rain" från nämnda "Travelogue" och så den snabba outgivna låten som de medgav lät som Waterboys. Inte illa, Martin Schaub lät ju som Mike Scott och det var nästan så man väntade på att Sharon Shannon skulle studsa in på scenen...

Efteråt funderar jag på hur orättvist det är att skapa musik i Sverige. Men att det aldrig går att tiga ihjäl riktigt bra musik. Inget av detta är ju något nytt. Men det retar mig fortfarande!

West of Edens hemsida - med komplett diskografi och allt övrigt du vill veta.