Book Watch

I was poking around some of my usual online haunts, author webpages, and some new sites, and I realized that there's a number of books that are coming out that I'm going to be checking out soon.

First up, SciFi and Michael Stanwick did a cool little project a while back called the Periodic Table of Science Fiction, where Stanwick wrote a short story for every element in the Periodic Table of Elements. Each story related to each element, and a cool series of short stories emerged. This was just posted on the SciFiWire:

Swanwick's Table Is A Book
Michael Swanwick, author of The Periodic Table of Science Fiction, told SCI FI Wire that the collection of stories that originally appeared on SCIFI.COM's SCI Fiction site is being released in book form. Swanwick added that he considers Mendeleev, who designed the periodic tale of elements, a genius and that he found it challenging to write short-short SF stories about each of the 118 elements.
"The periodic table is one of the great achievements of the human race: descriptive, predictive and endlessly useful," Swanwick said in an interview. "Shakespeare never wrote a sonnet half so beautifully constructed. … Although I knew some of it would be easy (who couldn't write a story about gold?), there were elements that would be a serious challenge to dramatize. It's like watching a tightrope walker. Nobody wants him to fall. But it's the possibility that he could that makes it so exciting."
To create a story for each element, from hydrogen to ununoctium, Swanwick tried everything. If there was an obvious association, he used it: The story about hydrogen is about time travelers meeting at the site of the Hindenburg explosion. Potassium is about bananas and how you can live forever by eating them every day, though a side effect is that you turn into a monkey.
Other elements required Swanwick to do research. Osmium is named after its smell ("osme" is Greek for "odor"); Swanwick humorously pointed out the importance of personal hygiene. Praseodymium responds to magnetism by getting colder; Swanwick found it a small step to write a story about cryogenic research.
Swanwick called vanadium the most boring element, since all he could uncover about it is that it is essential to a chicken's diet. "I made the mistake of writing it up as 'the couch potato of the periodic table,'" he said. "Did I get letters? Hoo boy. It turns out that a lot of people out there care passionately about vanadium and don't like to see [it] dissed."
Swanwick said that he always wanted to be a scientist; that is, until he discovered his inability to replicate the easiest laboratory experiments. "So I became a science-fiction writer as a next-best thing," he said.

On the links section, there's a link to the original stories online. I'd highly recommend checking them out, they're exremely fun to read, and it'll be a really good book to pick up when it is released.

The second one that I found when I was browsing around Max Barry's webpage to see if he had any news. He did, and I found the cover and information about his next book, called Company. I loved Jennifer Government, which is a very cool satire about capitalism, and I'm sure that his next will be just as good.

Here's what has to say about it: Nestled among Seattle’s skyscrapers, The Zephyr Holdings Building is a bleak rectangle topped by an orange-and-black logo that gives no hint of Zephyr’s business. Lack of clarity, it turns out, is Zephyr’s defining characteristic. The floors are numbered in reverse. No one has ever seen the CEO or glimpsed his office on the first (i.e., top) floor. Yet every day people clip on their ID tags, file into the building, sit at their desks, and hope that they’re not about to be outsourced.
Stephen Jones, a young recruit with shoes so new they squeak, reports for his first day in the Training Sales Department and finds it gripped by a crisis involving the theft of a donut. In short order, the guilty party is identified and banished from the premises and Stephen is promoted from assistant to sales rep. He does his best to fit in with his fellow workers–among them a gorgeous receptionist who earns more than anyone else, and a sales rep who’s so emotionally involved with her job that she uses relationship books as sales manuals–but Stephen is nagged by a feeling that the company is hiding something. Something that explains why when people are fired, they are never heard from again; why every manager has a copy of the Omega Management System; and most of all, why nobody in the company knows what it does.

Book Three is Archer Mayor's latest, coming later this year, entitled St. Alban's Fire, which has something to do with Barn Burnings in VT. If you like Mysteries or live in Vermont, Mayor is an excellent author to check out. His stories have gotten slightly weaker in the past years, but they are still fairly well written and thought out. All but one are about Vermont, take place here, and he's got some of the coolest characters out thus far.

Finally, Allen M. Steele is finishing up his Coyote Arc with a final Coyote novel, titled Coyote Frontier, which takes place nearly twenty years after the first novel. Coyote, for those of you who don't know, is a kind of American Revolution in space. A colonization effort is formed under an oppressive remnant of the United State, and the colonization ship is hijacked by a group of Dissitent Intellectuals who have been blacklisted by the Government. They set out for a moon called Coyote, which is thought to be livable. It is, and they form a small colony, and the rest of the book is about their life there, from the dangerous native lifeforms, to political problems and exploration. It's an amazing book. The second one, like the first was Serialized in Asimov's, and is just as good. Where the first book was about the colonization, the second book is about the moon's occupation when travellers from Earth come to the moon and try and take over. Think the American Revolution there. From the plot of the third one, it looks decent, but I'm a little wary that it's not going to be as good as the first or second.

A couple of things to keep one's eyes on, among others...