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January 2007

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New & Notable Books

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Mailing Date:
21 December 2006

Locus Magazine
New and Notable Books

John Clute, The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror (Payseur & Schmidt Oct 2006)

Noted critic Clute explores the nature of literary horror in this brief lexicon, with 30 encyclopedia-style entries ranging from AFFECT HORROR to VASTATION, each illustrated by a different artist.

Scott Connors, The Freedom of Fantastic Things: Selected Criticism on Clark Ashton Smith (Hippopcampus Oct 2006)

Critical essays and contemporary reviews provide a broad overview of the works of the noted writer, whose fame as a writer of weird fiction lagged behind contemporaries H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard — even while he was hailed as a poet. Authors include S.T. Joshi, James Blish, Brian Stableford, and Donald Sidney-Fryer.

Peter Crowther, ed., Forbidden Planets (DAW Nov 2006)

Crowther’s new SF anthology celebrates the 50th anniversary of the eponymous movie with an introduction by Ray Bradbury and 12 SF stories by a stellar roster of writers including Alastair Reynolds, Paul McAuley, Stephen Baxter, Jay Lake, and Michael Moorcock. ‘‘Very impressive…a pertinent book as well as a highly diverting one.’’ [Nick Gevers]

Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, eds., Futures Past (Ace Nov 2006)

Anthology of 14 stories of time travelers tampering with history, and the chaotic results. Authors include L. Sprague de Camp, R.A. Lafferty, Howard Waldrop, Kage Baker, and George R.R. Martin.

Mark Finn, Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard (MonkeyBrain Books Nov 2006)

This biography of the creator of Conan gives special consideration to the influence of Howard’s home state of Texas, and is meant as a refutation of parts of de Camp’s biography.

Edward Gorey, Amphigorey Again (Harcourt Oct 2006)

This posthumous sampling of Gorey’s charmingly surreal and macabre works gathers 28 items not previously collected — 12 in color — including three original items, unfinished works, and several privately published projects.

Elizabeth Hand, Saffron & Brimstone: Strange Stories (M Press Nov 2006)

Hand’s newest collection of eight stories has one original, as well as three of the four novellas from World Fantasy Award-winning Bibliomancy (limited British edition 2003). ‘‘The world may not be kind to muses in Hand’s beautifully orchestrated tales, but it’s a world whose gorgeous fragility, like the stigmas of those flowers that are gathered for saffron, positively glows in these radiant tales.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]

James A. Hetley, Dragon's Teeth (Ace Nov 2006)

The entertaining feuding magic families of Stonefort, Maine join in alliance once again when a defeated enemy comes back from the dead in this contemporary fantasy, sequel to Dragon’s Eye — but the seeming retread plot provides the basis for ‘‘something better, a deeper exploration of the first book’s various forms of magic in terms of the users’ psychological baggage….it deftly entwines the uncanny with what we tend to dismiss to blithely as the everyday.’’ [Faren Miller]

Matthew Hughes, Majestrum (Night Shade Books Oct 2006)

Hughes’ ‘‘witty and philosophically knotty’’ [Nick Gevers] tales of the Archonate — a tribute to Jack Vance’s Dying Earth — continue in this far-future science fantasy novel, the first in a trilogy about Henghis Hapthorn, freelance discriminator, as he battles the encroachment of wizardry on his scientific world.

Margo Lanagan, Red Spikes (Allen & Unwin Australia Oct 2006)

This collection of ten stories follows the critically acclaimed White Time and Black Juice and ‘‘…is no less brilliant. Its stories are unassumingly written yet dazzlingly original, full of moral force and unsettling psychological insight….’’ [Nick Gevers]

Deborah Layne & Jay Lake, eds., Polyphony, Volume 6 (Wheatland Press Nov 2006)

The latest anthology in this noted slipstream series presents 25 original stories by authors including Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Barry N. Malzberg & Jack Dann, Pamela Sargent, and Howard Waldrop. ‘‘Polyphony is now firmly established as the defining publication at the literary end of the fantastic spectrum.’’ [Nick Gevers]; ‘‘Overall, this is one of the best outings for Polyphony — perhaps the best…Very well worth a look.’’ [Rich Horton]

Jack McDevitt, Odyssey (Ace Nov 2006)

Priscilla ‘‘Hutch’’ Hutchins returns in her fifth novel, now a bureaucrat in the Space Academy, facing crises in space (unidentified alien spaceships) and on Earth, where politics and the media are calling the interstellar space program wasteful expenditure — an issue with strong parallels to the present day.

Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (Penguin Press Nov 2006)

The iconic great American writer again dabbles in SF, even offering a sort of alternate-history eulogy for pre-WWI genres, in this brilliant but exhaustingly dense novel of the early 20th century that includes elements of boys’ airship adventure, Westerns, scientific romance, and spy thriller — along with a cast of hundreds, and Pynchon’s trademark webs of meaning, enigmas that keep scholars employed in never-ending attempts to decode them all. A ‘‘great grotesque swaybacked desiccating book about the victory of Time against our single sad Earth…about the death of the stories we used to tell….’’

M. Rickert, Map of Dreams (Golden Gryphon Press Nov 2006)

The first collection from an author gaining acclaim for her magic realism and poetic exploration of the human heart, this presents 21 stories, two original, supposedly written by Annie Merchant, the protagonist of the title story. ‘‘The most impressive debut collection I’ve seen this year.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]

Mary Rosenblum, Horizons (Tor Nov 2006)

Political intrigue and mystery mix in this SF novel about a privileged woman, an empath, seeking vengeance for her murdered brother, a quest that takes her to the orbital Platforms above Earth, where upsiders have developed a culture of their own and now want independence.

Charles Stross, The Jennifer Morgue (Golden Gryphon Press Nov 2006)

Lovecraft meets Ian Fleming in the latest dark fantasy thriller featuring nerdy CIA demonology expert Bob Howard, who must stop a billionaire’s efforts to raise an eldritch horror in this sequel to The Atrocity Archives. This adds a related story and an afterword by Stross on James Bond and ‘‘The Golden Age of Spying’’.

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