Books Received: Vance, Wicked Plants, Invisible Prague, and More

(Okay, so I know this is the one everyone will be excited about, and I am, too–after all, I have a story in it, but frankly the book that’s got me way thrilled right now is the next one mentioned…)

Yeah, what happened to being back next week? Well, a couple days of going to bed at 1am instead of 11pm, combined with exercise in the afternoons and melatonin before sleeping, has me feeling much more like a normal human being.

So here’re books received and graphica received, with wombat contest winner Monday afternoon. Enjoy! (I’ll be curious to have your thoughts on some of these titles…)

…This book, The Other City, from Dalkey Archive Press, has me jazzed. Here’s the description: “In this strange and lovely hymn to Prague, Michal Ajvaz repopulates the city of Kafka with ghosts, eccentrics, talking animals, and impossible statues, all lurking on the peripheries of a town so familiar to tourists…the novel is a guidebook to this other Prague, overlapping the workaday world: a place where libraries can turn into jungles, secret passages yawn beneath our feet, and waves lap at our bedspreads.”

This nonfiction guide to strange plants that might hurt you is not only beautiful in its own right–the packaging, which comes with a DVD and a sampler chapbook, is awesome.

Orbit sent me Mr. Shivers for possible blurbing. Not out until 2010. I’m reading it, and thus far it’s really quite interesting. I like Orbit a lot. I think they’re doing a great mix of stuff, and working in some really odd material (in the best sense) along with the more commercial stuff.

Want a good way to rejuvenate your fiction? Delve into the fiction of other cultures. I’m really salivating at dipping into Mexican Fiction and The Black Mirror.

I don’t know why, but I find Amberville by Tim Davis intriguing. I think it’s YA, with all kinds of weird stuff.

Not sure about this one. Not so sure I’m not completely OD’d on superheroes.

More YA coming at ya!

I like the idea behind the Red Wolf Conspiracy–six hundred year old ship on a mission to end a war–but am not as sure about the execution of same. Will investigate further. And Kay Kenyon returns with another novel in her ongoing very cool series, which continues to get a lot less respect than it deserves.

God Bless David Lubar’s Weenies. And another novel from the author of Amberlight, which I found a good debut.

You gots yer full-on heroic fantasy and yer latest from a stone-cold classic, the ever-great Ian McDonald.

Godmother, meet The Adversary…

A.J. Hartley is a supremely gifted writer of complex thrillers. Now he turns to fantasy comedy, with good results. Meanwhile, the juggernaut that is Caravan graces us with another installment.

Tim Lebbon’s The Island is about a family’s idyllic adventures in Corfu, complete with lovable animal sidekicks. Valente’s Palimpsest is a balls-to-the-wall action adventure written in a stripped-down Elmore Leonard style.

Tom P’s follow-up to a genuine classic, The Cold Spot, isn’t quite as intense, but I liked it a lot just the same. No idea what the Enge is about. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Melko and Kress, giving us some SF-fu.

Robert Conroy continues to fill in years we didn’t know we needed. Paul Tremblay’s The Little Sleep looks to be a big hit, and very entertaining.

Alan Campbell and the hard-working Chris Roberson discover that “chicks with swords” are extremely popular on covers this year, whether you want them to be or not. (Personally, woman with sword or man with sword on cover generally says “no, naw, never” to me, but I know both of these are probably worthy books.)

Bruce Sterling’s Caraytids looks extremely interesting, although bad on Cory Doctorow for proclaiming it the best novel of 2009. Hey, dude, it’s not even spring yet. Cool your jets. (Oh yeah, and a Sub Press book by a new, unknown British writer.)

And, finally, a host of other cool things from Subterranean Press.


  1. says

    OK, I think I have raging book lust now, even if I have about a half-dozen or so of the books in some form or another. Curious to know what you’ll make of the Mexican fiction one and that Ajvaz book sounds like it’d be just the sort of thing I’d enjoy reading. Nice to know Metatropolis will be out in book form as well – I asked Buckell about it in an interview months ago and he didn’t know then for sure if it’d be available in print form.

  2. David says

    Lot of titles there that i’m interested in. The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton is not new. It is the first part in trilogy he wrote about 10 years ago. Looks like they’ve just reprinted it with another new cover :) It’s a rollocking good read though if you like space opera.


  3. says

    I started reading The Reality Dysfunction a few years back. Got to about 100 pages and the 110th gratuitous sex scene and thought it was a bit hokey.

    I finished Kenyon’s A World Too Near last week. It’s a very good series so far, and its a nice science-fantasy crossover. I can’t decide if the open ending is a good or bad thing, though. Bright of the Sky was a great self contained story that still left plenty of room for the following books, but World is clearly the middle of something bigger.

    And I didn’t realise that McDonald’s Cyberabad Days is a short story collection. That’s pretty cool.

  4. Andy Goodger says

    I also read The Reality Dysfunction many years ago and thought it was very good although it did take a while to get going. This actually the first part of a huge trilogy and well worth persevering with.

  5. says

    Great stuff in here. Almost everything Dalkey puts out is worth reading, but this one looks particularly interesting. I don’t see a lot of advance copies of their stuff floating around.

    Cyberabad Days has been on my nightstand for a while, and I’ve been dipping into it one story at a time—good so far. I’ve got Valente’s book on order, but I’ll also have to check out those anthologies from abroad. Short fiction from overseas is rare enough, but speculative stories are something else we really don’t see often enough.

    And the Sub Press books by themselves make a great haul. The Vance tribute, obviously, but also the memoir and the Kage Baker book are on my list.

    Amberville doesn’t sound like YA from Ingram’s description, by the way. Not that I care too much about categorizing it, but maybe Riley shouldn’t read it yet.

  6. Adam Balm says

    Hey Jeff, I don’t know if you had a look at China Miéville’s “The City and The City” yet, but having just finished the ARC, I’m wondering if it might be a tribute of sorts to Ajvaz’s Other City. A lot of similarities.

  7. Jeff VanderMeer says


    It’s probably just that he’s working from a bunch of Eastern European influences. More The Other Side than The Other City, right? Also, this novel was just translated this year. I confess I haven’t gotten to it yet. I thought I’d jump right in but Finch seems to have blown a fuse in my mind and I can’t seem to read any mystery-fantasy hybrids right now. Working through Derek Raymond instead, along with Waltz with Bashir and a couple others.


  8. says

    Thx for a thought-provoker Ecstatic Days » Blog Archive » Books Received: Vance, Wicked Plants, Invisible Prague, and More! Dale Politi

  9. says

    At first I thought you told Google to call the library, and it did, and that blew my mind.
    Then I realized that you actually called the library, and my mind became unblown.

    I’ll get back to work…
    If you ask my opinion about this topic I really like. Thank you for sharing your friends. Hope to see you another day.