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The Show Must Go On

Pat's look at the upcoming Sci-fi/Fantasy books on the horizon.

By Pat Ferrara, Columnist     February 18, 2008


Fevre Dream
© Subterranean Press

The year 2007 was punctuated by the release of the final Harry Potter tome, by the start of the fourteen-week WGA strike, and by the deaths of some of SF’s and fantasy’s top writers, chief amongst those Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Jordan. But as Jordan himself would say the wheel of time turns and life goes on. With the nation’s writers back to work and the new year fully under way we’re good’n ready for a glimpse into the future of genre book entertainment.

Good Monday Maniacs and welcome to this late February edition of the Weekly Book Buzz. In another slow week of genre releases David Keck’s and Elizabeth Moon’s hardcover sequels stand out amongst the rest of the meager bookshelf offering. Also, Subterranean Press has once again unveiled a special edition of Martin’s Fevre Dream, this one signed and limited to 448 copies, and a non-signed limited edition imprint of the Ray Bradbury collection The Golden Apples of the Sun.

But this week we’ll focus solely on the continuance of genre mythos, and how it relates to current events. Last month we took a look at some of the side projects of prominent fantasy authors and how their conception can have debilitating effects on the main sequence. Yet nothing is more jarring to a story arc than an untimely death.

When Robert Jordan passed away on September 16th a strong voice in modern fantasy literature was lost and a lot was left up in the air regarding his groundbreaking Wheel of Time saga. Less than two months later, however, Jordan’s wife Harriet and Tor President Tom Doherty made the decision that Mistborn author Brandon Sanderson will round out the epic. Though I’m unfamiliar with Sanderson’s work, he seems like a prime candidate for penning A Memory of Light (due out tentatively in Fall 09) because of his familiarity with high fantasy tone and usage of strictly-defined magic systems. Sanderson also has full cooperation from Jordan’s loved ones and access to the late writer’s extensive set of oral and written notes. That’s not to say that a smooth transition between authors is totally assured, but it will definitely help that Sanderson is “striking while the iron’s hot” so-to-speak (one reason I think Brian Herbert and Christopher Tolkien have met with mixed success in trying to propel their forebears’ mythos).

Continuing a unified story across multiple authors is by no means a conundrum unique to the book realm, but it is one of the hardest mediums to reconcile continuity within. The future of genre book entertainment (and most other print entertainment), however, is undeniably the screen, and in that light I’ll treat those helming TV or movie adaptations as the next wave of a story’s authors.

Though Terry Goodkind wrote The Sword of Truth series, it will be Sam Raimi’s screen vision that hits the bigger audience. The first of 22 episodes based on Wizards First Rule is slated to debut in the Fall 08 TV lineup and is rumored to have a very expensive and time-consuming production. Will expensive and time-consuming translate to good? Only time will tell, but I think Raimi is the right man for the job and the most competent author to handle this next round of story refinement.

Another fantasy series that’s being reworked for the screen is Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire sequence, and fans of the series will be happy to hear that, despite the delay with A Dance with Dragons’ release, the end of the writer’s strike marks the continuation of ASoIaF’s adaptation. Under the able hands of David Benioff (TROY, WOLVERINE) and D.B. Weiss (screenwriter of the now defunct HALO and ENDER’S GAME projects) Martin’s series is poised to make a gruesomely violent splash on HBO.

Will either of these screen translations trump the original texts? Definitely in the case of Sword of Truth because Goodkind’s a terrible writer, but I’m more reserved about Ice and Fire. Whether they do or not will probably be a moot point by the time they air; each story will have already made that irrevocable leap to the screen and the public eye.

And maybe that’s just the natural cycle of the modern day story. As the tales of yesterday catch up with the synergistic trends in media the book will always become synonymous with the film. For better or worse the graveyard of our prized genre properties is the screen, and the continuation of the sci-fi and fantasy story stops with the visual translations, remakes, and those dreadfully clichéd the-book-was-better convos. 

New in Hardcover:

In a Time of Treason, David Keck (Tor Books)

David Keck captivated readers with In the Eye of Heaven. Now, he continues the gripping story of Durand Col, a man at the heart of a nation divided. Fighting under the banner of Lord Lamoric, Durand and his companions thwarted a mad duke’s ambition and saved the crown. They have spent the winter counting their last pennies in their master’s gloomy hall and wondering what the coming season will bring. One thing seems certain: the peace they forged cannot hold. Too many barons have plotted against the king, too many strongrooms are empty, and no one truly believes that a simple vote will long deter the brooding Duke of Yrlac. With the advent of spring, the king rails against traitors and flings mad edicts across the land. There is open rebellion in the North. And, the Duke of Yrlac steps over the border of Lamoric’s homeland. Even as Durand fights at Lamoric’s side, his loyalties are increasingly torn. As a knight of Lamoric’s household, he cannot stray far from his master’s wife—the one woman he can neither have nor forget—while siege and sorcery conspire to bring him closer to treason. Can his loyalties survive his divided heart? Can the land of his birth survive the forces that tear it asunder? Can love and loyalty endure in a time of treason?

Vatta’s War: Victory Conditions, Elizabeth Moon (Del Rey)

Elizabeth Moon’s thrilling Vatta’s War series, featuring the no-holds-barred space-faring heroine Kylara Vatta, has secured her reputation as a master of first-rate military science fiction. Now Commander Vatta is back–locked and loaded and ready to win the fight against the marauding forces of ruthless space pirate Gammis Turek. For Ky, it’s not just about liberating the star systems subjugated by Turek and defending the rest of the galaxy’s freedom. There’s also a score to be settled and payback to be meted out for the obliteration of the Vatta Transport dynasty… and the slaughter of Ky’s family. But the enemy have their own escalation efforts under way–including the placement of covert agents among the allies with whom Ky and the surviving Vattas are collaborating in the war effort. And when a spy ring linked to a wealthy businessman is exposed, a cracked pirate code reveals a galaxy-wide conspiracy fueling the proliferation of Turek’s warship fleet. Matching the invaders’ swelling firepower will mean marshaling an armada of battle-ready ships for Ky to lead into combat. But a violent skirmish leaves Ky reeling–and presumed dead by her enemies. Now, as Turek readies an all-out attack on the Nexus system–a key conquest that could seal the rest of the galaxy’s doom–Ky must rally to the challenge, draw upon every last reserve of her strategic skills, and reach deep if she is to tear from the ashes of tragedy her most decisive victory.

The Golden Apples of the Sun, Ray Bradbury (Subterranean Press)

Ray Bradbury is a modern cultural treasure. His disarming simplicity of style underlies a towering body of work unmatched in metaphorical power by any other American storyteller. And here, presented in a new limited edition, are thirty-two of his most famous tales--prime examples of the poignant and mysterious poetry which Bradbury uniquely uncovers in the depths of the human soul, the otherwordly portraits of our fascination which spring from the canvas of one of the century's great men of imagination. From a lonely coastal lighthouse to a sixty-million-year-old safary, from the pouring rain of Venus to the ominous silence of a murder scene, Ray Bradbury is our sure-handed guide not only to surprising and outrageous manifestations of the future, but also to the wonders of the present that we could never have imagined on our own. Limited to only 600 copies with never before published material.

Fevre Dream, George R.R. Martin (Subterranean Press)

When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something's amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn't care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh's dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won't earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh's concern, no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove. Marsh meant to turn down York's offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve-coupled with the terrible force of York's mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare, and mankind's most impossible dream. Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire's quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman's dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river. This special signed edition is limited to only 448 numbered hardcover copies signed by the author and artist (Justin Sweet).

Death Note: Another Note, Nisioisin (Viz Media)

There’s a killer loose in Los Angeles and super-sleuth L is on the case. Along with Naomi, a former FBI agent, he helps the LA police solve the grisly crimes. In typical Death Note fashion, things get complicated. And there’s a big surprising plot twist at the end of the book.

New in Paperback:

Saint-Germain Memoirs, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Elder Signs Press)

Saint-Germain is one of the genre's most memorable vampires. In this collection, follow the dark immortal from ancient Greece to the present as the tales of his timeless life are recounted. Also included is a brief essay by the author about her world-renown vampire, with an Introduction by Sharon A. Russell.

Mark of the Dragon, Robert Stanek (RP Books)

RP Books is proud to introduce our ultimate edition--a premium trade paperback for the discerning reader. Featuring an exclusive Art of Ruin Mist insert with illustrations from original paintings, and many extraordinary extras, this powerful fantasy novel will delight even the most demanding fantasy enthusiast! Mark of the Dragon is the continuation of Robert Stanek's multilayered epic fantasy adventure begun with Keeper Martin's Tale, continued with Kingdom Alliance, and last told in Fields of Honor. In his acclaimed Keeper Martin's Tale, he introduced us to the story of Ruin Mist, an extraordinary world of magic, adventure and intrigue. Now in the eagerly awaited follow-up to Fields of Honor, he once again proves himself a wonderful storyteller with a gift for fast pacing and believable storylines. Already hailed as a classic, Robert Stanek's powerful series has been enjoyed by readers all over the world. Against a backdrop of treachery and intrigue, murder and mayhem, the price of free will is high. Many will pay with their lives. Many will succumb to imprisonment and enslavement. For when alliances shatter, old hatreds rise anew and the plotting and scheming begin. Bold, inventive, brilliantly imagined, Mark of the Dragon is a novel of magic and wonder--a tale of pure excitement you will not soon forget.

Elric the Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock (Del Rey)

The release of this omnibus, illustrated 480-page volume is a major fantasy publishing event. British author Michael Moorcock is best known, especially in the United States, for his tales of Elric, but these classic stories have been held out of print for years by his agent. Now this influential antihero reemerges with his comprehensive collector's edition. Elric: The Sealer of Souls contains the stories that made its title character and Moorcock famous: "The Dreaming City, "While the Gods Laugh," "The Stealer of Souls, "Kings in Darkness," "The Flamebringers," "Dead God's Homecoming," "Black Sword's Brothers," "Sad Giant's Shield," and "Doomed Lord's Passing." In addition to these fantasy standards, this paperback original contains an introduction by Alan Moore, a foreword by Moorcock, and several background essays and other additional material.

Be With You, Takuji Ichikawa (Viz Media)

When Takumi's wife suddenly returns from the grave, he can't believe his eyes. How could such a thing be possible? Is she here to stay? Has love miraculously triumphed over death? As Takumi starts looking for answers to these questions, he discovers the secret of his wife's appearance is somehow linked to the past...and the future.

New in Audiobook:

Children of Dune, Frank Herbert (Macmillan Audio Unabridged)

The bestselling science fiction series of all time continues! In this third installment, the sand-blasted world of Arrakis has become green, watered and fertile. Old Paul Atreides, who led the desert Fremen to political and religious domination of the galaxy, is gone. But for the children of Dune, the very blossoming of their land contains the seeds of its own destruction. The altered climate is destroying the giant sandworms, and this in turn is disastrous for the planet's economy. Leto and Ghanima, Paul Atreides's twin children and his heirs, can see possible solutions-but fanatics begin to challenge the rule of the all-powerful Atreides empire, and more than economic disaster threatens... Narrated by Simon Vance, Scott Brick, and others.

Moving Mars, Greg Bear (Brilliance Audio Unabridged)

Greg Bear is "a writer who is rapidly redefining the shape of the modern hard science fiction novel" (Keith Ferrell, "Omni Magazine"), and in his newest book he explores one very plausible scenario for the future of Earth's neighboring planet. Mars is a colonial world governed by corporate interests on Earth. The citizens of Mars are hardworking, brave, and intelligent, but held back by their lack of access to the best education, and the desire of Earthly powers to keep the best inventions for themselves. The young Martians - the second and third generation born on Mars - have little loyalty to the Earth, and strong belief that their planet can be independent. The revolution begins slowly, but matures to its inevitable conclusion. Narrated by Sharon Williams.

Okay Maniacs that’ll do it for this week’s Buzz. Check back next Monday for all the latest info on current sci fi, fantasy, and horror book releases. Questions or comments? Hit me up at Pferrara.mania@gmail.com.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 8 of 8
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Epitome 2/18/2008 12:13:09 AM
"Will either of these screen translations trump the original texts? Definitely in the case of Sword of Truth because Goodkind’s a terrible writer, but I’m more reserved about Ice and Fire." Damn that's harsh. More than halfway through Confessor (last book) and it ties in the whole series, so far its outlining every major questionable thing since book 1. Only downside I can see is that these books go a little over the top on explaining concepts and whatnot but otherwise they are damn addictive. The main thing that attracts me about it is how adult the books are and how people react in severe and terrible situations (which seem more believable severe than in most fantasy books). Don't think it can trump what I like about them if it is going to be re-broadcast on WGN after it is shown on whatever network. Half to cut out so much of what made the books believable (severe situations) to me.
chirop1 2/18/2008 4:55:32 AM
Most of the complaints surrounding Goodkind have to do with two things: 1) His books are a thinly veiled manifesto on Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy. 2) The man is an arrogant prick. For proof on the first point, just read his books. For proof on the second, look at his answer as to why he doesn't have more maps in his books. Basically, he says that maps are a "fantasy convention" and that he does not write "fantasy." He says that authors like John Grisham don't have to include maps for the reader to understand how the main character got to the coffee shop... so why should he have to? News Flash Tairy... Grishams characters aren't war wizards with fancy swords fighting against a great evil horde from the south! That said, when Confessor comes out on paperback, I'll finish up the series just to see how it ends. I will admit that I never felt like his overall story was getting away from him and spiraling out of control like I did with Jordan towards the end. Oh... and here's my obligatory Martin comment... I'm happy the man is getting newfound attention for all of his decades old work, but lets not forget WHY you're getting all that attention, its a little series called ICE AND FIRE that the readers are getting very antsy for! I want my Dance with Dragons!!!
irascible 2/18/2008 8:10:49 AM
Martin's books are great.. I too am a bit worried about the adaptation and how these types of things tend to oversimplify rich stories. Here's crossing my fingers for HBO... AND GET DANCE WITH DRAGONS OUT DAMMIT! While it is sad Jordan didn't complete his series himself - mabye he shouldn't have DRAGGED IT OUT. I quit the series because it just seemed like he was milking it for every word - then when he could have ended he went back for a prequel... gah! Funny I critique Jordan that way when Martin is having such a hard time getting DWD done - I think I fear the same fate to Martin...
kaybar 2/18/2008 8:27:22 AM
I'm just interested to see how adult both Ice and Fire and Sword of Truth will be when they debut. For as much as I dislike Goodkind's writing, I've read all of the Truth books except the last two, and Epitome you're very right in saying they're definitely for grown-ups. I think Raimi would have done a fantastic job workin on an R-rated Truth translation, kind of like an Evil Dead / Army of Darkness.... but with higher production value and more serious. However, the fact that it's going on primetime cable worries me that a lot will get cut out or just glossed over. Now Ice and Fire going on HBO on the other hand... that could be f'n awesome. I'm glad both series went with the proper pacing route of making 22 episodes PER BOOK, which is the only way I can see a lot of these fantasy epics, Jordan's included, being translated for the screen at all.
kaybar 2/18/2008 8:32:19 AM
Oh and irascible if you haven't visited Martin's official site recently check out the Ice and Fire update, he put up another new chapter for ADwD early this past January (through the POV of Jon Snow) http://www.georgerrmartin.com/if-sample.html
irascible 2/18/2008 4:23:20 PM
Thanks Kaybar - I visit every once in a while to read his "not a blog" and to see how he's faring... Haven't been there in a while and it reminded me... I'm not sure if I want to read - it'll just tease me more until it's out.... and then 2 more after this?! ARRRGH!!
experiMENTAL 2/19/2008 12:58:24 PM
and which of these tomes is Uwe Boll translating to the big screen?
kaybar 2/19/2008 1:51:46 PM
oh don't even joke about that mental, because i absolutely hate Uwe Boll (http://www.mania.com/56792.html).
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