BOOK & BLOG
July 30, 2010
Books of the Week:
I’m a huge Naomi Novik fan, so I was hopping up and down with anxiety to read her latest. Temeraire the dragon and his rider, Captain Will Laurence, have been sent to Australia in exile after the events of Victory of Eagles. Laurence has no official status, he’s a pariah among his peers, and his future is uncertain. He still has friends, though, and Temeraire is a valuable dragon. Maybe it was inevitable that this would be a “down” book, since Laurence’s future is so uncertain and his downfall so extreme. The interest here lies in Novik’s imaginative picture of the early colonization of Australia and the bleakness of its interior. Temeraire comes across as a wistful creature in Serpents, and Iskierka has lost much of her charm. I hope things look up for the team of Temeraire and Laurence in the next book.
I dropped by the Penguin booth at ComicCon, and since I was talking about the zombie panel I’d attended (the only one I got to attend as a member of the audience), the Penguin staff kindly gave me a copy of State of Decay. I was very impressed by this debut novel by James Knapp. In a futuristic world, the human race is served by revivors, former humans who’ve donated their bodies to be re-used after they die. FBI agent Nico Wachalowski has had a traumatic encounter with revivors, and when he becomes involved with a case of smuggling revivors for the sex trade he comes face to face with unpleasant possibilities about the lingering sentience in the revivors. The narrative moves between four characters: Nico, policewoman Faye, wrestler Calliope, and Zoe, who can psychically invade human minds. This is a well-constructed and exciting novel with some original world-building.
Chimera is not one of Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros books, but it is about brothers. Stefan Korsak, son of a transplanted Russian mobster, has spent his life looking for his abducted brother. Finally, he gets a good lead, and in a creepy passage recovers the boy he believes to be his brother, a boy who has been used in horrible ways. The man who abducted Lukas (and many other children) wastes no time trying to reacquire the teenager. Stefan and Lukas (now a trained killer) are on the run. One by one, Stefan’s lifelines are cut off, until finally the two are on their own with no one to turn to but each other. If you like the Cal Leandros books, I think you’ll definitely like Chimera, which has a great pace and wonderful characters.
I haven’t gotten to write this feature lately. I have so many things to do in this next week that I can’t believe I’ll accomplish them all, but I’m giving it a try.
First, I have to finish Sookie 11. We’re still talking about the title. How do you feel about a book called simply Sookie Eleven? I don’t know if I can train myself to call it anything else now. I’m closing in on the finish, but Comic Con and a root canal slowed down my momentum. I worked in my room every day in San Diego, but now I have to pull all the threads in the book together as I home in on the conclusion.
Daughter has her wisdom teeth out next week, too, and I also have some (not serious) medical appointments. This just takes a whack out of my time. Real life always intrudes into my fictional world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Comic Con was a blast; a nerve-wracking blast. Though I had a wonderful time at the Entertainment Weekly/SyFy party, and maybe I’ll write about that sometime, to me the real thrill lay in meeting some writers I’d always wanted to talk to. This year I got to meet Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, Patrick Rothfuss, Justin Cronin, Seanan McGuire, Rob Thurman, Ryan Mecum, and Kathy Reichs, plus many others. (Sorry if I skipped your name!). I got to talk with long-time friends Jeanne Stein, Kat Richardson, and Tanya Huff. Anton Strout and I ate dinner together. And I got to hear Max Brooks, a huge favorite of mine, on the Zombie Panel. I also got a list of writers to read from that panel, so it was an hour well spent.
Though I didn’t get to spend as much time chatting as I wanted, I also reunited with the staff of Mysterious Galaxy, one of my favorite stores. I had two great signings with their help, and I stopped by their booth to sign stock; my timing was great, because I got to give Marjorie Liu a hug. Marjorie is an exciting writer and a lovely person.
Since my resourceful and determined publicist, Jodi Rosoff, was with me, and my editor Ginjer Buchanan was able to stay for a couple of days, I had great support and guidance. Our middle son was also able to help me get through the crowds. Mike Russell, an Episcopal priest, was my guest relations contact from the Comic Con staff, and he was able and genial. He knew EVERYTHING about the convention.
I know this blog is a bunch of name-dropping, but you know . . . there are some names that deserve to be dropped. Am I lucky, or what?
© 2010 Charlaine Harris