This week in new hardcovers: Glen Cook, Neil Gaiman, J.-H. Rosny, and Koonchung Chan, plus the evolution of virtual reality and the most powerful of the Sith. Plus a reissue of Fahrenheit 451, to remind us that Ray Bradbury predicted everyone's 15 minutes of fame 15 years before Warhol.
Newly released hardcover books in science-fiction and fantasy this week include:
- As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary PreHistory of Virtual Reality by Michael Saler,
- A Path to Coldness of Heart by Glen Cook,
- Annotated Sandman Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, Leslie Klinger (Editor), Various (Illustrator),
- Dreadstar II Metamorphosis Odyssey by Jim Starlin (Author, Artist),
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury,
- Nature of the Beast by Adam Mansbach, Douglas McGowan, Owen Brozman (Illustrator),
- Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno,
- The Fat Years by Koonchung Chan,
- Three Science Fiction Novellas: From Prehistory to the End of Mankind by J.-H. Rosny, Daniele Chatelain (Translator, Contributor), George Slusser (Translator, Contributor), and
- The Rook by Daniel O'Malley.
As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary PreHistory of Virtual Reality by Michael Saler
"Many people throughout the world "inhabit" imaginary worlds communally and persistently, parsing Harry Potter and exploring online universes. These activities might seem irresponsibly escapist, but history tells another story. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, when Sherlock Holmes became the world's first "virtual reality" character, readers began to colonize imaginary worlds, debating serious issues and viewing reality in provisional, "as if" terms rather than through essentialist, "just so" perspectives. From Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos and Tolkien's Middle-earth to the World of Warcraft and Second Life, As If provides a cultural history that reveals how we can remain enchanted but not deluded in an age where fantasy and reality increasingly intertwine." Oxford University Press, USA, 304 pages, Jan 9.
A Path to Coldness of Heart by Glen Cook
Eighth and final novel in the Dread Empire series. "King Bragi Ragnarson is a prisoner, shamed, nameless, and held captive by Lord Shih-kaa and the Empress Mist at the heart of the Dread Empire. Far away in Kavelin, Bragia''s queen and what remains of his army seek to find and free their king, hampered by the loss or desertion of their best and brightest warriors. Kavelina''s spymaster, Michael Trebilcock, is missing in action, as is loyal soldier Aral Dantice. Meanwhile, Dane, Duke of Greyfells, seeks to seize the rule of Kavelin and place the kingdom in his pocket, beginning a new line of succession through Bragia''s queen, Dane''s cousin Inger. And in the highest peaks of the Dragona''s Teeth, in the ancient castle Fangdred, the sorcerer called Varthlokkur uses his arts to spy on the world at large, observing the puppet strings that control kings and empires alike, waiting... For the time of the wrath of kings is almost at hand, and vengeance lies along a path to coldness of heart." Night Shade Books, 320 pages, Jan 10.
Annotated Sandman Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, Leslie Klinger (Editor), Various (Illustrator)
"Meet the Endless, a family of immortals that govern all aspects of life and death throughout the universe. However, one of theirown lays captured--Dream, the Lord of Sleep. As Dream makes his escape and returns to his duties after 70 years of imprison-ment, he encounters countless characters from myth, legend and comics, from Lucifer himself to the tragic Greek hero Orpheusto the HELLBLAZER John Constantine." Vertigo, 560 pages, Jan 10.
Dreadstar II Metamorphosis Odyssey by Jim Starlin (Author, Artist)
"For the first time the original, classic episodes of Dreadstar: Metamorphosis Odyssey from Marvel/Epic Illustrated are collected in full color under the careful direction of creator Jim Starlin. These gorgeous, painted pages originally appeared in Epic from 1979 to 1982, and introduced audiences to Vance Dreadstar and the other characters whose saga would be continued in the Dreadstar series." Dynamite Entertainment, 240 pages, Jan 10.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
"Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family." But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn't live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life." Simon & Schuster, 176 pages, Jan 10.
Nature of the Beast by Adam Mansbach, Douglas McGowan, Owen Brozman (Illustrator)
"An alien race of religious extremists plan to honor their deity through the ritualistic annihilation of our planet. The only man who knows this is Milan Marlowe, an unstoppable media baron who sees opportunity everywhere." Soft Skull Press, 240 pages, Jan 10.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
"He was the most powerful Sith lord who ever lived. But could he be the only one who never died? "Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying." -Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Darth Plagueis: one of the most brilliant Sith Lords who ever lived. Possessing power is all he desires. Losing it is the only thing he fears. As an apprentice, he embraces the ruthless ways of the Sith. And when the time is right, he destroys his Master-but vows never to suffer the same fate. For like no other disciple of the dark side, Darth Plagueis learns to command the ultimate power . . . over life and death." LucasBooks, 400 pages, Jan 10.
The Fat Years by Koonchung Chan
"Banned in China, this controversial and politically charged novel tells the story of the search for an entire month erased from official Chinese history. Beijing, sometime in the near future: a month has gone missing from official records. No one has any memory of it, and no one could care less-except for a small circle of friends, who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the sinister cheerfulness and amnesia that have possessed the Chinese nation. When they kidnap a high-ranking official and force him to reveal all, what they learn-not only about their leaders, but also about their own people-stuns them to the core. It is a message that will astound the world. A kind of Brave New World reflecting the China of our times, The Fat Years is a complex novel of ideas that reveals all too chillingly the machinations of the postmodern totalitarian state, and sets in sharp relief the importance of remembering the past to protect the future." Nan A. Talese, 336 pages, Jan 10.
Three Science Fiction Novellas; From Prehistory to the End of Mankind by J.-H. Rosny, Daniele Chatelain (Translator, Contributor), George Slusser (Translator, Contributor)
Early Classics of Science Fiction. "To the short list that includes Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as founding fathers of science fiction, the name of the Belgian writer J.-H. Rosny Aine must be added. He was the first writer to conceive, and attempt to narrate, the workings of aliens and alternate life forms. His fascination with evolutionary scenarios, and long historical vistas, from first man to last man, are important precursors to the myriad cosmic epics of modern science fiction. Until now, his work has been virtually unknown and unavailable in the English-speaking world, but it is crucial for our understanding of the genre. Three wonderfully imaginative novellas are included in this volume. "The Xipehuz" is a prehistoric tale in which the human species battles strange geometric alien life forms. "Another World" is the story of a mysterious being who does not live in the same acoustic and temporal world as humans. "The Death of the Earth" is a scientifically uncompromising Last Man story. The book includes an insightful critical introduction that places Rosny's work within the context of evolutionary biology." Wesleyan, 216 pages, Jan 10.
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
""The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own. In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined." Little, Brown and Company, 496 pages, Jan 11.