Guys, I’m not going to lie to you here, tomorrow’s new releases are a little slim.
First up, and this is the one I’ll go gaga over, is Charles C. Mann’s follow-up to 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus - and that is 1493: Discovering the World that Columbus Created. I had a chance to see him speak at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center back in November (December?) of 2006. Because that’s the other thing I do – aside from getting too excited about science fiction/fantasy/literary supernatural/speculative fiction/urban horror, I also get too excited about pre-/post-Columbian anthropological books. Pre-contact is my preference, it’s true, but Mann is a wonderful and accessible writer who knows what the hell he’s talking about. 1491 was especially revelatory for folks both inside and outside the industry – he talked about the extensive cities, societies, and social networks present in the pre-Columbian Americas. The hardest part of any of this kind of research is the proof, of course – most of it was done with archaeology. (I did both: pre-Contact archaeology and post-Contact records research, and let me tell you how much I miss it.) In any event, this is not a book to be missed, if you are at all interested in the Contact era.
Lev Grossman’s The Magician King is also out tomorrow. I admit, I have not read The Magicians, and I should have. It’s gotten ridiculous reviews, and I am sorely remiss in my fantasy-reading duties.
Christie Golden’s latest contribution to the STAR WARS universe is Fate of the Jedi: Ascension. She’s also written in the STAR TREK, WORLD OF WARCRAFT, and STARCRAFT universes, including the WoW: Cataclysm prequel novel The Shattering. She knows what the hell is up.
I recently got into Laurie R. King (thanks, Mom); among other things, she wrote Touchstone, which is a bit of a post-WWI supernatural mystery conspiracy class warfare type affair, and it is wonderful. She’s also tackled Sherlock Holmes – well, she’s tackled Mary Russell, his American companion. This isn’t a new one, but God of the Hive is out in paperback tomorrow. I haven’t had a chance to get into the series, but my mother can vouch for them, and believe me when I say she has good taste in books. I mean, she likes the Dresden Files.
The one I’ve left for last is The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto by Pico Iyer, because I have no context whatsoever for it. I don’t know anything about the author. Goodreads tells me he’s a British born essayist of Indian descent, and mostly writes travel and spirituality. That actually makes me more inclined to give the novel a chance. It’s about a Westerner who travels to Japan to learn about Zen Buddhism, and meets a woman there, the wife of a “salaryman” (see: wageslave), and they strike up a friendship. I think there’s a very high likelihood that this will fall into the post-modern unnecessarily tragic doomed-romance category. We have yet to see if it’s abrasively written. Fingers crossed.