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Weekly Book Buzz: Star Wars: Death Troopers
Star Wars Meets the Night of the Living Dead
By Tim Janson
October 11, 2009
Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joel Schreiber(2009).
© Random House
It had to happen! With zombies being so prevalent in pop culture today, it was only a matter of time before they were paired up with the Mega Successful Star Wars franchise and it happens this week with the release of Star Wars: Death Troopers, written by Joel Schreiber. Will the marriage of Star Wars and horror be successful? I guess we’ll have to wait and see but I can tell you this much, Schreiber is a fantastic writer. His 2007 novel “Chasing the Dead was one of the best horror novels of that year and I’m glad they turned to an actual horror writer to handle this book as opposed to one of the usual Star Wars writers.
There was a major oversight on my part from last week’s column. I neglected to put into the new fantasy releases the latest Discworld book from Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals. This is the 37th book in the long-running series, this time a spoof of football…or soccer as we Americans like to call it.
…Raymond Feist’s At the Gates of Darkness: Book Two of the Demon War Saga, will be releases on April 6, 2010.
New in Fantasy
Shadowfae Erica Hayes (St. Martin’s)
Imagine a secret world veiled in fairy glamour and brimming with unearthly delights. A city swarming with half-mad fairies, where thieving spriggans rob you blind, beautiful banshees mesmerize you with their song, and big green trolls bust heads at nightclubs. And once you’re in, there’s no escape…
Enslaved by a demon lord, Jade is forced to spend her nights seducing vampire gangsters and shapeshifting thugs. After two hundred years as a succubus, she burns for freedom and longs to escape her brutal life as a trophy girl for hell’s minions. Then she meets Rajah, an incubus who touches her heart and intoxicates her senses. Rajah shares the same bleak fate as she, and yearns just as desperately for freedom. But the only way for Jade to break her bonds is to betray Rajah—and doom the only man she’s ever loved to a lifetime in hell.
Servant of a Dark God John Brown (Tor Hardcover)
The launch of a towering new fantasy series introduces an elaborate new world, a strange and dark system of magic, and a cast of compelling characters and monsters. Young Talen lives in a world where the days of a person’s life can be harvested, bought, and stolen. Only the great Divines, who rule every land, and the human soul-eaters, dark ones who steal from man and beast and become twisted by their polluted draws, know the secrets of this power. This land’s Divine has gone missing and soul-eaters are found among Talen’s people.
The Clans muster a massive hunt, and Talen finds himself a target. Thinking his struggle is against both soul-eaters and their hunters, Talen actually has far larger problems. A being of awesome power has arisen, one whose diet consists of the days of man. Her Mothers once ranched human subjects like cattle. She has emerged to take back what is rightfully hers. Trapped in a web of lies and ancient secrets, Talen must struggle to identify his true enemy before the Mother finds the one whom she will transform into the lord of the human harvest.
Imager's Challenge: The Second Book of the Imager Portfolio L. E. Modesitt Jr. (Tor Hardcover)
Imager’s Challenge takes up immediately after the conclusion of Imager. Still recovering from injuries received in foiling the plots of the Ferran envoy, Rhenn is preparing to take up his new duties as imager liaison to the Civic Patrol of L’Excelsis. No sooner has he assumed his new position than he discovers two things. First, the Commander of the Civic Patrol doesn’t want a liaison from the infamous Collegium, and soon has Rhenn patrolling the streets of the worst district in the city. Second, Rhenn receives formal notice that one of the High Holders, the father of a man Rhenn partly blinded in self-defense, has declared his intention to destroy Rhenn and his family.
Rhenn’s only allies are the family of the girl he loves, successful merchants with underworld connections. In the end, Rhenn must literally stand off against gang lords, naval marines, Tiempran terrorist priests, the most powerful High Holder in all of Solidar, and his own Collegium—and find a way to prevail without making further enemies and endangering those he loves.
Canticle (The Psalms of Isaak) Ken Scholes (Tor Hardcover)
Come back to the Named Lands in this compelling sequel to Ken Scholes amazing novel Lamentation. It is nine months after the end of the previous book. Many noble allies have come to the Ninefold Forest for a Feast in honor of General Rudolfo’s first-born child. Jin Li Tam, his wife and mother of his heir, lies in childbed.
As the feast begins, the doors of the hall fly open and invisible assassins begin attacking. All of Rudolfo’s noble guests are slain, including Hanric, the Marsh Queen’s Shadow. And on the Keeper’s Gate, which guards the Named Lands from the Churning Waste, a strange figure appears, with a message for Petronus, the Hidden Pope. Thus begins the second movement of The Psalms of Isaak, Canticle.
New in Science Fiction
Star Wars: Death Troopers Joe Schreiber (Random House Hardcover)
When the Imperial prison barge Purge–temporary home to five hundred of the galaxy’s most ruthless killers, rebels, scoundrels, and thieves–breaks down in a distant, uninhabited part of space, its only hope appears to lie with a Star Destroyer found drifting, derelict, and seemingly abandoned. But when a boarding party from the Purge is sent to scavenge for parts, only half of them come back–bringing with them a horrific disease so lethal that within hours nearly all aboard the Purge die in ways too hideous to imagine.
And death is only the beginning.
The Purge’s half-dozen survivors–two teenage brothers, a sadistic captain of the guards, a couple of rogue smugglers, and the chief medical officer, the lone woman on board–will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But nothing can prepare them for what lies waiting aboard the Star Destroyer amid its vast creaking emptiness that isn’t really empty at all. For the dead are rising: soulless, unstoppable, and unspeakably hungry.
Eclipse 3: New Science Fiction and Fantasy (Night Shade Books)
To observe an eclipse is to witness a rare and unusual event. Under darkened skies the sun becomes a negative image of itself, its corona transforming the landscape into a strange space where anything might happen, and any story may be true... In the spirit of classic science fiction anthologies such as Universe, Orbit, and Starlight, master anthologist Jonathan Strahan (The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year) presents the non-themed genre anthology Eclipse: New Science Fiction and Fantasy. Here you will find stories where strange and wonderful things happen - where reality is eclipsed by something magical and new.
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: The Complete Newspaper Dailies Volume 3 (Hermes Press)
The saga of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the world's most famous science-fiction newspaper strip, continues with Volume Three of Hermes Press' complete reprint of this ground-breaking title. Volume Three has it all: space ships, anti-gravity belts, damsels in distress, invaders from other worlds, nefarious villains, and, of course, heroes. Included in this volume are two more years of the strip, from 1932 to 1934, as well as a special 16-page introductory essay by noted science-fiction writer and pop-culture historian Ron Goulart and an afterword detailing how many of the predications about the future from the strip came to pass just as Buck Rogers had visualized.
New In Horror
No Doors, No Windows: A Novel Joe Schreiber (Del Rey)
When madness is your inheritance, how do you escape it?
Scott Mast thought he got away–first from a family haunted by a dark fate, then from a dull career writing greeting cards in Seattle. But now he has come back to his New Hampshire hometown only to find that his family is in ruins, his nephew needs a home, and a shattering truth is clawing its way into the light.
Fifteen years ago, Scott’s mother died in a fire. And now the shadowy circumstances–the bodies buried beneath the ashes, the lives ripped apart that fateful day–are starting to be revealed. The answers unspool in the pages of a peculiar old manuscript–an unfinished ghost story written in his father’s own hand that beckons Scott out to a strange house in the woods with a lightless corridor that cannot be seen from the outside. Here Scott Mast will uncover all that has been hidden–and perhaps finish his father’s unspeakable work.
The Midnight Guardian: A Millennial Novel Sarah Jane Stratford (St. Martin’s)
It’s 1938, and the tentacles of Hitler’s terrifying Third Reich have commenced their stranglehold on Europe. The Nazi empire will soon be clean of all bloodlines deemed tainted or undesirable…including vampires.
London’s ancient tribunal of vampires is aghast at the destruction taking place on the Continent. Though vampires try not to interfere with human politics, Hitler’s terrible plans force them into action. They resolve to send five of their most formidable vampires to Berlin— millennials that have lived over 1000 years and whose age and wisdom make them close to invulnerable— to infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy the growing Nazi war machine.
The brilliant and beautiful millennial Brigit is loath to go, but her powers are needed if the mission is to have any chance of success. She must summon all her strength to endure the separation from her lover Eamon, whom she made almost eight centuries ago, but whose lack of millennial status makes him an unacceptable choice for this operation. Though he longs to join her, his duty to Brigit is best served from afar, by nurturing their deep psychic connection and reinforcing her spirit with his fierce devotion and memories of his tender embrace.
But as the millennials attempt to penetrate and sabotage Hitler’s armies, they discover that the Nazis are more capable than any human force they’ve yet encountered and more monstrous than they'd ever imagined. Forced to take bolder, more dangerous steps, they soon attract the attention of specially trained vampire hunters loyal to Hitler and his vision of a vampire-free Europe. Exposed, deep inside enemy territory, with vicious Nazi officers and hunters at her heels, Brigit must attempt a daring escape from the Continent, guarding precious cargo that marks the only hope of salvaging their mission.
Vincent Price Presents Volume 1 (Blue Water Productions)
The Gothic horror tradition of film icon Vincent Price is revived in these twisted comic book one-shots that transplant the best of the horror genre into innovative and bizarre landscapes for a new generation of Vincent Price fans. Vincent Price serves as iconic host and muse for these unforgettable stories, which include horrific transformations, twisting plots, perversions of science, labyrinthine castles, Gothic dread, surreal revelations, and a little unexpected genre-bending.
Nightmare World: 13 Tales Of Terror Volume 1
Psychological horror in the vein of The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt! In this first "Definitive" Collection of stories from the acclaimed online comic series, we delve into a world of ghostly lovers, demonic abductors, vengeful victims, and sexy Cthulhu priestesses as these loosely connected stories weave an epic tale of a world not unlike our own where nothing is what it seems. Welcome to Nightmare World! Written by "Write Or Wrong" Newsarama columnist Dirk Manning, featuring remastered art, extras, and a new in-continuity prose story.
Vlad the Impaler (Hudson Street Press)
The Dracula myth has sparked a legacy of endlessly entertaining creepy tales. The fictional character, originally penned by Bram Stoker, was inspired by and named after a real-life fiend-Prince Vlad Dracula, the fifteenth-century ruler of Wallachia-a man infamous for massacring and impaling his enemies. In brilliant four-color illustrations, Vlad the Impaler tells the ghastly prince's life story from his seizure as a boy by the Turkish Sultan, to his love life, to his maniacal attempts to retain power regardless of whose throat he must slit.
From the bestselling writer and illustrator team who brought us The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation-hailed by Stan Lee as "beautifully and compellingly written and illustrated. . . . It will surely set the standard for all future works of contemporary history, graphic or otherwise"-this graphic novel, based on a true story, is replete with gory details of torture tactics. Ideal for readers who made 30 Days of Night and World War Z bestsellers, the combination of riveting legend and blood-and-guts drawings will be an anticipated addition to the graphic novel fan's library.
Best Horror of the Year 1 Ellen Datlow (Night Shade books)
An Air Force Loadmaster is menaced by strange sounds within his cargo; a man is asked to track down a childhood friend... who died years earlier; doomed pioneers forge a path westward as a young mother discovers her true nature; an alcoholic strikes a dangerous bargain with a gregarious stranger; urban explorers delve into a ruined book depository, finding more than they anticipated; residents of a rural Wisconsin town defend against a legendary monster; a woman wracked by survivor's guilt is haunted by the ghosts of a tragic crash; a detective strives to solve the mystery of a dismembered girl; an orphan returns to a wicked witch's candy house; a group of smugglers find themselves buried to the necks in sand; an unanticipated guest brings doom to a high-class party; a teacher attempts to lead his students to safety as the world comes to an end around them...
What frightens us, what unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the twenty-one stories and poems included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year.
New In Non-Fiction
Star Trek: A Comic Book History Alan J. Porter (Hermes Press Hardcover)
Now for the first time the complete history of the Star Trek universe in comic books and newspaper strips from all over the world. Written by pop-culture historian Alan J. Porter, author of the bestselling James Bond: The History of the Illustrated 007, this book will be the definitive history on the subject. Nine information-packed chapters detailing the history of Star Trek in comic books and newspaper strips from the first Gold Key comic books, to the English newspaper strip, to the Marvel and DC titles, to the present day. Exhaustively covers all publications of the entire Star Trek universe. Includes creator interviews, unpublished artwork and a detailed checklist. Published to coincide with the release of the new Star Trek movie. Boldly goes where no book has gone before!
Tom Strong Deluxe Edition Alan Moore (DC/Wildstorm Comics)
While perhaps best known for darker and cynical comic works like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Swamp Thing, writer Alan Moore shows that he can magnificently tackle comics with a more nostalgic tone with Tom Strong. This deluxe, hardcover edition collects issues #1 – 12 of the regular Tom Strong series published by DC’s Wildstorm imprint.
Tom Strong is a throwback to comics of the past, which lit the imaginations of readers. It is a Golden Age title that is written for the 21st century. Tom Strong is much like Doc Savage, the pulp-era hero. Strong has a genius level intellect, possesses great-than-human strength, and ages extremely slowly due to the ingestion of a West Indian native root. Tom is surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters including his wife Dhalua, daughter Tesla, Pneuman, a steam-powered robot built by Tom’s father, and King Solomon, a talking gorilla.
Born in 1902, the series jets back in forth in time, relating Tom’s adventures in the past, present, and near future as he battles with a cadre of super villains such as the evil scientist Saveen, the Modular Man, and more common villains such as Nazis during WWII. Chris Sprouse provides the art and he is a perfect choice. Sprouse’s clean pencils open up the art. It’s innocent and fun, and thankfully, completely without the cynicism of so many present day comic books.
The series is filled with pop-culture references, tributes to other comic book characters, and a sense of wonderment that is generally missing today. Tom Strong is one of the best comics of the last decade…period! Grade A
The Birthing House Christopher Ransom (St. Martin’s Press)
The past couple of years have seen a rebirth of the haunted house genre, a genre that has been forgotten for far too long. Slashers, demons, vampires…when done right, a good haunted house novel can top them all for sheer terror and suspense. The Birthing House comes very close to greatness but falls just short.
Conrad Harrison is returning to L.A. from his father’s funeral in Chicago. He gets lost and ends up in the small town of Black Earth Wisconsin. Now, I’m not sure how you want to go to L.A. from Chicago and end up in Wisconsin, but I’ll resist the urge to nitpick. Conrad finds an old Victorian home and immediately falls in love with it and buys it on the spot, seeking a fresh start for he and his wife, Jo. You don’t get to know his wife very well as she is quickly shuffled away to an eight-week training course, leaving Conrad to soak up the atmosphere of the old house.
The previous owner gives him an old box of photos and ominously tells Conrad, “…they belong to the house”. One old photo shows a woman who looks uncannily like Conrad’s wife. The haunts come subtle…the sound of a baby crying, an old doll found in the bedroom, and the appearance of the shade of a woman throughout the house. Ransom delivers a powerful sense of atmosphere, deftly knowing what buttons to push on the reader.
But then there is his unnatural attraction for the neighbor’s pregnant 19 year-old daughter who fills in a little bit of background on the house. Still, I could not help but find the relationship a little on the sleazy side, even if it might have been the house pushing Conrad that way. At just over 300 pages it’s a brisk read and the pacing is relatively quick. Some stronger development needed for some of the supporting characters keeps the book from true greatness. Grade B+