New Novel from Philip K. Dick (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Sunday, February 01, 2009

 

Not a lot of news to report in the column this week. We covered some stories of note during the week, notably News from the HWA (Horror Writers Association) on this years lifetime achievement award recipients and the preliminary ballot for the Stoker Awards which will be announced in June.
 
I want to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions on the Top 15 All-time Greatest Science Fiction Writers.
 
Now you have another topic to start thinking about…The Greatest Horror Writers. I find this subject to be much more difficult than Sci-Fi as the lineage of horror goes back much further than Sci-FI and writers from the 19th century (Poe, Stoker, Bierce) and early 20th century (Lovecraft, M.R. James) are still so influential today. Should be interesting!
 
This week we have a number of major new releases including the latest from C.S. Friedman, Eric Flint; the 12th volume in Larry Niven’s Man-Kzin Wars series, and a new novel from Philip K. Dick. This novel was written by Dick in 1960 but went unpublished until released by a specialty, small press publisher in 1984. This is the first major release of this novel from one of my Top 15 all-time great Sci-Fi writers.
 
Top Picks in Fantasy
 
Worlds Eric Flint (Baen Hardcover)
 
Welcome to the many worlds of Eric Flint. Known for his New York Times best-selling alternate history novels, Flint is equally a master of shorter forms, and this large volume gathers the best of Flint’s shorter works. This generous selection includes: several stories and short novels set in Flint’s celebrated Ring of Fire alternate history series; two stories from Flint’s Joe’s World humorous fantasy series; a story with Dave Freer, set in their popular rats, bats and vats series; a short novel set in Flint and David Drake’s Belisarius series; and several shared-universe stories set in David Drake’s Foreign Legions universe, and a story set in David Weber’s best-selling Honor Harrington universe. In addition to the fiction, Eric Flint has written an overall introduction, plus an introduction for each story, telling how it came to be written, which will make this an irresistible book for the thousands of Eric Flint fans.
 
Wings of Wrath: Book Two of the Magister Trilogy C.S. Friedman (DAW hardcover)
 
Wings of Wrath is the second novel in C. S. Friedman’s Magister trilogy—a true high fantasy replete with vampire-style magic, erotic action, war, treachery, sorcerous danger, and one of the most terrifying dragon-like creatures in fantasy. Against a backdrop of knife-edged politics and fearsome prophecies, those who are sworn to protect the human lands must discover the truth that lies at the heart of ancient legends, and find a way to defeat an enemy that once brought mankind to the very brink of destruction.
 
Unholy: Haunted Lands, Book III Richard Lee Byers (Wizards of the Coast)
 
The formerly green fields lie in war-torn ruins. The formerly living populace is undead. And the formerly brilliant necromancer, the mastermind behind the civil war that drove the ruling council into exile, appears to have gone insane. But rumor spreads of a reason behind his randomness -- a reason all survivors of Thay must rally against.
 
Undone (Outcast Season, Book 1) Rachel Caine (Roc)
 
Once she was Cassiel, a Djinn of limitless power. Now, she has been reshaped in human flesh as punishment for defying her master—and living among the Weather Wardens, whose power she must tap into regularly or she will die. And as she copes with the emotions and frailties of her human condition, a malevolent entity threatens her new existence...
 
Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Book 4) Patricia Briggs (Ace Hardcover)
 
In a world where “witches, vampires, werewolves, and shape-shifters live beside ordinary people” (Booklist), it takes a very unusual woman to call it home. By day, Mercy Thompson is a car mechanic in Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shape-shifter with some unusual talents, Mercy’s found herself maintaining a tenuous harmony between the human and the not-so- human on more than one occasion. This time she may get more than she bargained for.
 
The Adventures of Florin & Lorenzo (Warhammer Omnibus) Robert Earl (Games Workshop)
 
Omnibus edition of the three Florin and Lorenzo novels: The Burning Shore, Wild Kingdoms and Savage City plus two short stories set in the old world of Warhammer Fantasy battle.
 
Mortal Coils Eric Nylund (Tor)
 
Nothing interesting ever happened to fifteen-year-old orphans Eliot and Fiona while they’ve lived in the strict, oppressive household of their grandmother. A chance visit, however, reveals that there is much more to the twins. They are the offspring of a goddess and Lucifer, Prince of Darkness. Now, to settle the epic custody battle between these two families, the fallen angels create three diabolical temptations, and the gods fashion three heroic trials to test Eliot and Fiona. More than ever they need to stick together to survive and to learn how to use their budding supernatural abilities . . . for family allegiances are ever-shifting in the ancient, secret world they have entered.
 
 
 
Top Picks In Science Fiction
 
Rx for Chaos Christopher Anvil (Baen)
 
Science and technology have made our lives easier, cured diseases, with achievements that an earlier age would have considered impossible. But once in a while, the law of unintended consequences breaks loose. Christopher Anvil considers the two faces of technological innovation: Sometimes the result is a literal life-saver; but at other times a breakthrough may not break quite the way it was supposed to.
 
Man-Kzin Wars XII Larry Niven (Baen hardcover)
 
The kzin, formerly invincible conquerors of all they encountered, had a hard time dealing with their ignominious defeat by the leaf-eating humans. Some secretly hatched schemes for a rematch, others concentrated on gathering power within the kzin hierarchy, and some shamefully cooperated with the contemptible humans, though often for hidden motives. In war and in uneasy peace, kzin and humans continue their adventures, as told by Hal Colebatch, Paul Chafe, and Michael Joseph Harrington, expanding on the concepts created by New York Times best-selling writer Larry Niven.
 
The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike Philip K. Dick (Tor hardcover)
 
The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike was written by Philip K. Dick in the winter and spring of 1960, in Point Reyes Station, California. In the sequence of Dick’s work, The Man Whose Teeth was written immediately after Confessions of a Crap Artist; the next book Dick wrote was The Man in the High Castle, the Hugo Award–winning science fiction novel that ushered in the next stage of Dick’s career. This novel, Dick said, is about Leo Runcible, “a brilliant, civicminded liberal Jew living in a rural WASP town in Marin County, California.” Runcible, a real estate agent involved in a local battle with a neighbor, finds what look like Neanderthal bones and dreams of rising real estate prices because of the publicity. 
 
Maelstrom: Destroyermen, Book III Taylor Anderson (Roc hardcover)
 
Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy, along with the men and women of the U.S.S. Walker, are once again at war. Having sided with the peaceful Lemurians against the savage, reptilian Grik, they now find themselves scrambling to prepare for the attack that is sure to come, searching for resources to support their forces—even as they look for allies to join their struggle.
 
Meanwhile, the Japanese juggernaut Amagi, also trapped in this strange world, is under Grik control—with her fanatical commander approaching madness. And soon they will have amassed a force that no amount of firepower and technology will be able to stop. As the raging conflict approaches, Reddy, his crew, his allies, and his loved ones face annihilation. But if there is one thing they have learned about their new world, it is that hope—and help—may be just over the horizon.
 
Top Picks In Horror
 
The Séance John Harwood (Houghton Miflin Harcourt Hardcover)
 
A haunting tale of apparitions, a cursed manor house, and two generations of women determined to discover the truth, by the author of The Ghost Writer Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plow the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there . . .” Constance Langton grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for Constance’s sister, the child she lost.Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a séance: perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life.
 
So begins The Séance, John Harwood’s brilliant second novel, a gripping, dark mystery set in late-Victorian England. It is a world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail and black-hearted villains—and murder. For Constance’s bequest comes in two parts: a house and a mystery. Years before, a family disappeared atWraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside with a sinister reputation.Now the Hall belongs to Constance. And she must descend into the darkness at the heart of theWraxford Mystery to find the truth, even at the cost of her life.
 
Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son Dean Koontz & Chuck Dixon (Del Rey/Dabel Bros. Graphic Novel)
 
In the nineteenth century, Dr. Victor Frankenstein brought his notorious creation to life, but a horrible turn of events forced him to abandon it and slip away from the public eye. Two centuries later, a serial killer is on the loose in New Orleans, gruesomely salvaging body parts from each of his victims, as if trying to assemble a perfect human being.
 
Detective Carson O’Connor is cool, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks. Her partner, Michael Maddison, would back her up all the way to Hell itself–and that just may be where their new case leads. For as they investigate the strange killings, O’Connor and Madison find themselves drawn into a weird underworld of deception and secrets where a man named Victor Helios has created an entire race of perfectly engineered people who are meant to take humankind’s place one day. But something is happening to some of Helios’s creations, and it may be that this bizarre serial killer is the least of the detectives’ worries.
 
Capsule Reviews
 
The Creepy Archives Vol. 2 (Dark Horse Hardcover)
 
 
How can people not love Dark Horse Comics? I never thought I’d see these classic Warren magazines reprinted but Dark Horse has come to the rescue of all of us horror fans who grew up on Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella in the 1970s. Volume two of the hardcover archive series reprints Creepy #6 – 10 in their entirety, complete with ads and letter columns. To go along with Frank Frazetta covers, the artists in this volume include Alex Toth, Gray Morrow, Reed Crandall, John Severin, and more. The stories include adaptations of Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado”; Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Body Snatcher”; and the Lovecraft-style tale “The Thing in the Pit”. It does not get any better than this. Grade A

 
Hercules The Thracian Wars Steve Moore and Admira Wijaya (Radical comics hardcover Graphic Novel)
 
 
When Radical Comics debuted last year I looked at their books and said, “Wow! This is beautiful stuff…there’s no way these guys will last!” That wasn’t meant as a slight against them but the Comic Biz is tough. Would they be able to maintain this level of quality and still deliver a product for a good price and be competitive? Well so far Radical has done just that. Hercules the Thracian Wars collects the entire mini series into a gorgeous hardcover edition, which features a cover and other designs by none other than the legendary Jim Steranko. In the tale, Hercules and several other Greek mercenaries are hired by the King of Thrace to train his troops for an upcoming battle. Now this isn’t your Kevin Sorbo or Marvel Comics Hercules. This is a Demi-God who has lived an arduous life as the whipping boy of the Gods. He’s ruthless and often barbaric and not the heroic figure of myth. 
 
The battle scenes are savagely gory and well constructed. The characters are very brutal but lively and entertaining. Admira Wijaya’s art is magnificent! Where did they find this guy! I’m down with anything involving Steranko. This was a darker look at Greek Mythology. We need to keep an eye on Radical! Grade A
 
The Many Deaths of the Batman (DC Comics Trade Paperback)
 
 
In the 60s and 70s, lurid comic book covers were often the norm. So often we saw covers, which claimed a character, would die, or their secret identity would be revealed. These were the hooks used to draw readers in, even if the story almost always turned out to be a “what if” story, or a dream, or a hoax perpetrated by the hero himself. We get seven such stories in The Many Deaths of the Batman, four of which come from the 60s and 70s. 
 
“The Strange Death of Batman” is a perfect example of this type of story. After Batman has captured a ridiculous villain known as The Bouncer, We see writer Gardner Fox lying on his sofa and contemplating what if the Bouncer had really killed Batman. It’s the kind silly story you saw a lot of in the mid-60s but it does give insight into that simpler era of comic book history. In “The Corpse that Wouldn’t Die” Batman is electrocuted. He’s breathing but has no brain function. The Atom shrinks down to microscopic size to stimulate Batman’s brain and control his body to track down the person responsible. His stimulation ends up saving Batman’s life. 
 
And so it goes through the rest of the stories. This isn’t required reading but its fun stuff for sure. The book reprints stories from Detective Comics #347, World’s Fines #184 and 269, The Brave and the Bold #115, Batman #291-294, Batman Chronicles #8 and Nightwing #52. Grade B


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