Monday, June 14, 2010

Still Life with Fantasy and Fruit #5

Well hi there! A couple of these are older releases but they're new to me, so I'm featuring them with citrus, a small topnote of berries, and a side o' watermelon:
Still Life with Fantasy and Fruit #5

It should be noted that the only lemons in this picture are the actual lemons. There are no lemons here in the pejorative sense. From L-R: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane, Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout, and Leviathan by Scott Westerfield.

I haven't read Unholy Ghosts yet but I'm excited to get to it. Stacia has the same release schedule as me—her next two books in the series are coming out later this month and then in July, I think—and I have plenty of questions for her. Her main character, Chess Putnam, is something of an anti-hero, even for urban fantasy; besides being a witch, she's a drug addict. 

If you're a fan of Norse mythology, Norse Code is a good time. Don't let the girl with the sharp pointy thing fool you, because it's not all about her. There's sort of a revolving cast, and the cover actually amuses me now because I can just imagine the meeting between the editorial and art departments:

"Okay, there's this god Hermod who's really the main character but we can't use him."

"Why not?"

"Because even though he's kind of funny, you can't really illustrate that; he's sort of a bum, socially inept and insecure about his abilities."

"Right. What else you got?"

"Well, there's this hot Valkyrie who wields a Chinese saber."

"Excellent! That's made of win! Let's do it!"

The point of view switches from the Valkyrie to the god to a pair of ravens and so on. It's the oldest release of the bunch, but quite worth picking up. The author's latest release is a book called Kid vs. Squid, a novel for young readers, and my ten-year-old daughter is digging it very much.

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, is also intended for younger readers, and it's the first of a series. It's unusual in that it's an alternate history of WWI—you don't see many of those around. It can also be classified as an example of early Dieselpunk, if you like to classify things. As a subgenre, I'm not sure that Dieselpunk will ever catch on or hold the allure of Steampunk; the Victorian era had such smashing fashion, you see, and such interesting social taboos. On the other hand, the Dieselpunk era (1920-1945) is a very fertile fictional playground, especially if one wants to play with it as an alternate history. You have the swing era, mobsters & Prohibition, WWII...and there's plenty of room for new writers to break in here and do something very cool. I don't think the "definitive work" of the genre's been written yet; Westerfeld's book is clearly wonderful, but he's forced to steer clear of some of the grittier, "punkier" aspects of the time since he's writing for a younger audience. If you're interested in seeing more about the Dieselpunk aesthetic, check out this neato spread at Dark Roasted Blend (just scroll down past the ad). Based on Westerfeld's work, I'm ready to see more of this sort of thing targeted to an older audience. His book is great for his intended audience, though; my daughter loved it too.


  1. I can't wait until you do the still life including your own published works!

  2. My favorite Westerfeld books are ones that seem to be ignored by many people - the Risen Empire duology.

  3. ahahah! Yeah, you're right about that cover. I hadn't even thought about it really-- I heard about the book somewhere else before I saw it in the store, I think, so I wasn't paying attention to the cover art when I bought it.

  4. Oh, Leviathon was such a great book. :P Course, pretty much everything Scott Westerfeld writes I end up loving. I'm sixteen--I don't know if he was a aiming for younger or not--and thought it was pretty much fantabulous. :P

  5. Alan: Me too! :) Ted: thanks for the heads up, I'll have to look for them because I enjoyed Leviathan too. Amalia: If you look at the title and then the sword, you actually start to think, "Are they trying to say she's a hacker and being a bit punny about it?" I seriously thought this was going to be a cyberpunk novel instead of an urban fantasy based on Norse mythology. Sam: I'm pushing 40 and I loved Leviathan. I say it's intended for the young'uns merely because the protagonists are young and he's toned down the gore and language you get in books aimed at adults. ;)