Weekly Book Buzz: An Open Letter to the Mania Readership (Mania.com)

By:Pat Ferrara
Date: Monday, August 25, 2008

It’s with a heavy heart that I must inform you, the Mania readership, that this 111th edition of the Weekly Book Buzz will be my last as columnist. Due to a decrease in free time and one of those unfortunate things called a regular job I can no longer give this column the attention it deserves.
 
Since I started the Book Buzz back in July of 2006 I’ve tried to make finding information on weekly genre releases a little bit easier and a little bit more fun. After two years of writing here on the site I’m not really sure I succeeded, but if the weekly release schedule helped just one of you keep better tabs on your sci-fi, horror and fantasy literature then I’ll consider myself lucky at having been a small part of your reading agenda.
 
Never in a million years did I think George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire hiatus would outlast my tenure here with the column, and it makes me sad to think of all the things I won’t be able to Buzz about in the future: the second volume of my new favorite sci-fi series, Peter F. Hamilton’s The Dreaming Void, the release of the late Robert Jordan’s final Wheel of Time installment, A Memory of Light, and all the exciting new book-to-screen translations coming out in the next few years like Gibson’s Neuromancer, Goodkind’s Raimi-helmed A Sword of Truth, and of course J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to name just a few.
 
Although my time here with the Weekly Book Buzz is at an end, the column itself will go on under the more-than-capable direction of resident staffer Tim Janson. Be sure to offer him a big welcome and keep your suggestions coming because, in the end, this column is still a work in progress. Concise release schedules and at-a-glance publisher information is great, but it’s you the fanbase that makes this all possible.
 
To all of you Maniac readers, thanks for a great two years.
 
 
 
New in Hardcover:
 
 
The Best of Lucius Shepard, Lucius Shepard (Subterranean Press)
 
Lucius Shepard writes from the darkest, truest heart of America--not the heart of the United States or of North America, but all of America--and he writes of it with rare passion, honesty and intelligence. His earliest stories, the ones that made his name a quarter of a century ago were set in the jungles of South America and filled with creatures dark and fantastical. Stories like "Salvador", "The Jaguar Hunter", and the excoriatingly brilliant "R&R" deconstructed war and peace in South America, in both the past and the future, like no other writer of the fantastic. A writer of great talent and equally great scope, Shepard has also written of the seamier side of the United States at home in classic stories like "Life of Buddha" and "Dead Money", and in "Only Partly Here" has written one of the finest post-9/11 stories yet. Perhaps strangest of all, Shepard created one of the greatest sequence of "dragon" stories we've seen in the tales featuring the enormous dragon, Griaule. The Best of Lucius Shepard is the first ever career retrospective collection from one of the finest writers of the fantastic to emerge in the United States over the past quarter century. It contains nearly 300,000 words of his best short fiction and is destined to be recognized as a true classic of the field.
 
 
 
New in Paperback:
 
 
Star Wars Coruscant Nights: Street of Shadows, Michael Reaves (Del Rey)
 
With the Jedi all but wiped out in the grim aftermath of Order 66, the Empire’s power seems unchecked. But one lone Knight continues to fight the good fight–against all odds and when all else fails. Deep in the bowels of Coruscant, Jedi Jax Pavan ekes out a living as a private investigator, a go-to, can-do guy for the downtrodden. Now a mysterious Zeltron knockout named Deejah approaches Jax with a case that needs to be cracked: to find out who killed her artist lover Volette, brutally murdered hours after his triumphant unveiling of a dazzling new light sculpture with obvious links to lightsaber pyrotechnics. Finding Volette’s killer won’t be easy–too many secrets, too many suspects, and all kinds of motives. But with the droid I-5YQ’s help, and ex-reporter Den Dhur’s excellent snooping skills, the investigation is soon operating like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, there’s a far more efficient machine hunting Jax. It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as the clock starts ticking toward the final explosive showdown…to see who strikes first and who will die first.
 
 
Enduring Flame: The Phoenix Unchained, Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory (Tor)
 
In this opening volume of a new epic fantasy trilogy from bestselling authors Lackey and Mallory, Harbormaster-to-be Harrier and the young nobleman Tiercel begin a marvelous journey to uncover their destinies. Along the way, they meet a charming female centaur, several snooty Elves, and the most powerful dragon their world has ever known.
 
 
Stargate Atlantis: Mirror, Mirror, Sabine C. Bauer (Fandemonium Books)
 
An all new novel based on the hit TV series, Stargate Atlantis, which has won the People's Choice Award for favorite SciFi show. Follow the team of soldiers and scientists as they attempt to unravel a new mystery in the Pegasus Galaxy. Mirror, Mirror is a must-read for all fans!
 
 
Star Trek Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru, Michael Martin & Andy Mangels (Star Trek Books)
 
To protect the cargo ships essential to the continuing existence of the fledgling Coalition of Planets, the captains of the United Earth's Starfleet are ordered to interstellar picket duty, with little more to do than ask "Who goes there?" into the darkness of space. Captain Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise seethes with frustration, wondering if anyone else can see what he sees. A secret, closed, militaristic society, convinced that their survival hangs by a thread, who view their neighbors as a threat to their very existence--the Spartans of ancient Greece, the Russians of the old Soviet Union, the Koreans under Kim Il-sung--with only one goal: attain ultimate power, no matter the cost. The little-known, never-seen Romulans seem to live by these same principles.
The captain realizes that the bond between the signers of the Coalition charter is fragile and likely to snap if pushed. But he knows that the Romulans are hostile, and he believes they are the force behind the cargo ship attacks. If asked, Archer can offer no proof without endangering his friend's life. To whom does he owe his loyalty: his friend, his world, the Coalition? And by choosing one, does he not risk losing all of them? What is the solution to a no-win scenario?
 
 
Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory (Del Rey)
 
It is a world like our own in every respect…save one. In the 1950s, random acts of possession begin to occur. Ordinary men, women, and children are the targets of entities that seem to spring from the depths of the collective unconscious, pop-cultural avatars some call demons. There’s the Truth, implacable avenger of falsehood. The Captain, brave and self-sacrificing soldier. The Little Angel, whose kiss brings death, whether desired or not. And a string of others, ranging from the bizarre to the benign to the horrific. As a boy, Del Pierce is possessed by the Hellion, an entity whose mischief-making can be deadly. With the help of Del’s family and a caring psychiatrist, the demon is exorcised…or is it? Years later, following a car accident, the Hellion is back, trapped inside Del’s head and clamoring to get out. Del’s quest for help leads him to Valis, an entity possessing the science fiction writer formerly known as Philip K. Dick; to Mother Mariette, a nun who inspires decidedly unchaste feelings; and to the Human League, a secret society devoted to the extermination of demons. All believe that Del holds the key to the plague of possession–and its solution. But for Del, the cure may be worse than the disease.
 
 
Posleen War: Yellow Eyes, John Ringo & Tom Kratman (Baen)
 
The Posleen are coming and the models all say the same thing: Without the Panama Canal, the US is doomed to starvation and defeat. Despite being overstretched preparing to defend the US, the military sends everything it has left: A handful of advanced Armored Combat Suits, rejuvenated veterans from the many decades that Panama was a virtual colony and three antiquated warships. Other than that, the Panamanians are on their own. Replete with detailed imagery of the landscape, characters and politics that have made the jungle-infested peninsula a Shangri-La for so many over the years, Yellow Eyes is a hard-hitting look at facing a swarming alien horde with not much more than wits and guts. Fortunately for the human race, the Panamanians, and the many veterans that think of it as a second home, have plenty of both.
 
 
Legion of the Damned: When All Seems Lost, William C. Dietz (Ace)
 
From the national bestselling author of When Duty Calls…Captured by the alien Ramanthians, diplomat Christine Vanderveen must protect the Confederacy’s President from both their captors and fellow prisoners. But rescue is on the way, led by Lieutenant Tonio Sanchez, Vanderveen’s former lover, who must try to set aside his personal feelings for the sake of the mission.
 
 
Wanderlust, Anne Aquirre (Ace)
 
Broke and unemployed, “Jumper” Sirantha Jax accepts a diplomatic mission for the government—only to find herself up against Syndicate criminals, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspaceweakened body.
 
 
The Long Twilight and Other Stories, Keith Laumer, Ed. by Eric Flint (Baen)
 
A huge volume of edge-of-the-seat science fiction adventure, including: The Long Twilight: Grayle and Falconer met in relentless combat with no quarter in prehistoric ages past, their endless battle now remembered only as dark myths and legends. Now their long battle is nearing its climax—and the final battleground is an uncontrolled experimental power plant that threatens the Earth itself! Night of Delusions: A detective is hired by men claiming to be government agents and given an assignment that may lead to his being hailed as the savior of the nation—or executed for treason. His mysterious clients also give him devices to use in the assignment, devices which seem to be far beyond anything of which human technology is capable. And as he doggedly pursues the case, he finds that the very fabric of reality seems to be changing around him, even to the point that he himself seems never to have existed! Plus three short novels of equally stunning concepts and breathtaking action.
 
 
Redwall: Eulalia!, Brian Jacques (Ace)
 
The aged Badger Lord of Salamandastron sends a young haremaid on a quest to find his successor Gorath—held captive by Vizka Longtooth and his scurrilous crew of Sea Raiders, bound for plunder and conquest.
 
 
Island, Aldous Huxley (Vintage Books)
 
For over a hundred years, the inhabitants of the Pacific island of Pala have been part of a social experiment whereby western science has been brought together with eastern philosophy and humanism to create a paradise on earth. In Island, Huxley gives us his vision of Utopia.
 
 
Heroes: Saving Charlie, Aury Wallington (Del Rey)
 
“Save the cheerleader, save the world” are the defining words of Heroes, the phenomenal series that has transformed television drama. They are also the cryptic marching orders for the show’s cross section of ordinary individuals united by an extraordinary bond. Each possesses a superhuman ability, and together they must prevent the course of history from taking a terrifying turn. Now, in this original novel based on the TV phenomenon, in a thrilling story that will captivate even those who haven’t seen the show, one of these unexpected saviors steps center stage on a deeply personal quest that will test the limits of his gift, the depth of his love, and the ultimate strength of his will. Hiro Nakamura possesses the remarkable power to control time. And like his uniquely blessed comrades, he’s on a mission for the good of humankind. But another challenge awaits him: saving the love of his life from an unspeakable death. Charlene “Charlie” Andrews is the big-hearted, small-town beauty whose sunny smile and sweet soul knocked the shy Hiro head over heels. But when Charlie’s young life is snuffed out by a grisly serial killer, their budding romance is brutally cut short. Or is it? Thanks to his astounding newfound skill, Hiro has the means to do what no tragedy-stricken lover in history ever could–turn back time. And no matter how raw his abilities, or how many twists of circumstance conspire to foil him, he vows to deliver Charlie from the evil poised to claim her. He will be her hero. But what possible consequences might changing the past visit upon the future? How could saving one cherished life affect millions of others? And what ultimate choice will Hiro make when the power of fate rests in his hands?
 
 
Acacia: The War with the Mein, David Anthony Durham (Anchor Press)
 
Acacia is a thrilling work of literary imagination that creates an all-enveloping and mythic world that will carry readers away. It is a timeless tale of heroism and betrayal, of treachery and revenge, of primal wrongs and ultimate redemption. David Durham has reimagined the epic narrative for our time.
 
 
Warhammer Age of Reckoning: Empire in Chaos, Anthony Reynolds (Games Workshop)
 
In a land ravaged by plague and swarming with mutants, a young woman and her companions become swept up in an epic battle to save the Empire from its most ferocious foes - the forces of Chaos.
 
 
Hellgate London: Covenant, Mel Odom (Pocket Star)
 
As Templar Simon Cross fights to lead the hunted survivors of the demon surge toward salvation, time and supplies run short. Simon must penetrate the dark secrets of the demons--as well as those of his partner in peril, Leah Creasey--to keep his charges safe. But Leah's organization won't surrender their knowledge easily, even as new technology emerges from the Goetia Manuscript that could help Simon's cause. Warren Schimmer, linked to one of the darkest of the hellspawn--the demonic Lilith--is himself also targeted by infernal forces. No longer able to hide, Warren must emerge as a leader and turn a ragged band of Cabalists into an army. But when a vicious weapon that uses dreams against the human survivors of the city draws the Templars, the Cabalists, and the Hunters into the same arena, will they join forces...or turn against one another?
 
 
Helfort’s War: The Battle of the Hammer Worlds, Graham Sharp Paul (Del Rey)
 
He thought Hell was the worst they could throw at him. He was wrong. Back from tangling with the Hammer of Kraa, the most brutal, trigger-happy tyrants in humanspace, Junior Lieutenant Michael Helfort is assigned to the Federated Worlds heavy cruiser Ishaq, which is struggling to rise to the threat posed by a newly resurgent Hammer. Aboard the floundering ship, Helfort is coming to grips with a painful injury and the unpleasant truth that nobody likes a young hero–least of all senior officers. Without warning, the Ishaq and twenty-seven Fed merchant ships are blown apart in a horrific ambush, the first step in the Hammer’s master strategy to destroy the hated Federated Worlds. Michael and a pitiful remnant of the Ishaq’s crew escape the inferno. The Feds have no idea who’s behind the heinous attack, and the Hammer are determined to keep it that way, consigning the Ishaq’s survivors to a prison camp deep in the wilderness of the Hammer’s home planet. No one’s getting out alive to derail the Hammer’s lethal master plan–especially not the FedWorlds hero who so humiliated them on the battlefield. It’s payback time, and the Hammers intend to throw their entire space fleet into destroying Michael Helfort and the Federated Worlds. Too bad it won’t be enough.
 
 
Fleet of Worlds, Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner (Tor)
 
A brand-new novel set in Niven's Known Space, two hundred years before the discovery of the Ringworld.
 
 
Thraxas Under Siege, Martin Scott (Baen)
 
In the enchanted city of Turai, the royal family is corrupt, the politicians can be bought, and the civil guards have better things to do than guarding. Thraxas, the overweight and somewhat disreputable private eye working out of an even more disreputable neighborhood, has often grumbled about that sorry state of affairs. Unfortunately, the state of affairs has suddenly gotten much worse, and Thraxas has more to worry about than where his next meal and beer are coming from. The city is under siege by an army of rampaging Orcs, and now he not only has to regularly take part in standing guard duty on the stout walls, the only thing between the Orcs and Turai’s destruction, but he also has a mystery to solve. A ship has managed to slip past the hordes of Orcs and made port in Turai. It was carrying a powerful magical talisman called the Ocean Storm which, used by the enemy, could raise a storm powerful enough to topple the city walls and let the Orcs in to pillage and slaughter. And it, along with the captain of the ship, mysteriously disappeared as soon as the ship had docked. If Thraxas doesn’t locate the Ocean Storm before it falls into the wrong hands, Turai will be doomed. Which could seriously interfere with the big card game that Thraxas had been looking forward to…
 
 
A Nameless Witch, A. Lee Martinez (Tor)
 
A tale of vengeance, true love, and cannibalism. Being born undead can have its disadvantages, such as eternal youth and flawless beauty--things most unsuitable for a witch. Hiding behind the guise of a grimy old crone, the witch is content living outside Fort Stalwart with her unlikely band of allies: a troll named Gwurm, an enchanted broom, and a demonic duck named Newt. She leads a simple life filled with spells, potions, and the occasional curse. So when a White Knight arrives at Fort Stalwart, the witch knows her days of peace are at an end. The Knight is just days in front of a horde of ravenous goblings, and Fort Stalwart lies right in the horde's path. But the goblings are just the first wave of danger, and soon the witch and the Knight must combine forces on a perilous quest to stop a mad sorcerer from destroying the world. Filled with menace, monsters, and magic, A Nameless Witch is a properly witchly read by the award-winning author of Gil's All Fright Diner and In the Company of Ogres.
 
 
Nocturne City: Pure Blood, Caitlin Kittredge (St. Martin’s)
 
In the shadows of Nocturne City, witches lurk and demons prowl, and homicide detective Luna Wilder must keep the peace—while living life as a werewolf. Now bodies are turning up all over town, the brutal murders linked by a cryptic message: We see with empty eyes…To make matters worse for Luna, she can’t get wolfishly handsome Dmitri Sandovsky out of her mind. The last time he helped her with a case, Dmitri suffered a demon bite that infected him with a mysterious illness…and now his pack elders have forbidden him from associating with Luna. But she’ll need his help when high-level witches start turning up slaughtered. Because a war is brewing between rival clans of blood witches and caster witches—a magical gang war with the power to burn Nocturne City to the ground.
 
 
Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles: Legacy, Jeanne C. Stein (Ace)
 
Anna has struggled to adapt to her supernatural status while clinging to the vestiges of her humanity. Now she must deal with her legacy. The sinister vampire who transformed her is dead, and Anna is entitled to his vast fortune. But a predatory werewolf comes forward, claiming the inheritance as her own—and she’ll kill to get what she wants most: blood and money.
 
 
Cosmos: The Engineer Reconditioned, Neal Asher (Wildside)
 
Mysterious aliens, ruthless terrorists, androids with attitude, genetic manipulation, punch-ups with lasers and giant spaceships! What more do you want?
 
 
 
New in Audiobook:
 
 
Meredith Gentry: A Caress of Twilight, Laurell K. Hamilton (Brilliance Audio Abridged)
 
As Princess Meredith will inherit the throne, the men of her royal guard desire to be the future king--and father of her child. Back-stabbing makes it difficult for Meredith to pursue her living as a private investigator in Los Angeles. The princess must fend off ancient evil that destroys the very fabric of reality. Read by Laural Merlington.