New Genre Fiction and New Art Books

Best New Genre Fiction

Railsea

      by China Mieville, TR, $37.99

Anyone who has read Mieville before will be prepared for his genre-bending pedigree, the almost reckless genius he has for casual creation; neologisms, mythology, geography, characters, entire worlds – his imagination acknowledges few bounds. This has back-fired in the past, with novels like The Iron Council, and Kraken (exciting and inventive, but over-burdened with action and trickery) but in others, like the stunning The City & The City and Perdido St Station it comes together in an Escherian warping of fictive genius. Railsea is a novel of this type, absorbing in plot and relentless creativity.

It’s a story set in a world-spanning sea of rail, rocky islands interlinked by an intricate and seemingly endless expanse of tracks. The rails ride above the earth, the surface of which hides extraordinarily dangerous creatures, predators all, ranging in size from merely life-threatening to immense. With hints of Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Dune and, above all, Moby Dick, Mieville constructs a gothic oddity through joyful narration and thrilling ideas. Quite simply, Mieville is one of the most creative authors alive today. View details

2312

     by Kim Stanley Robinson,  TR, $36.99

The new novel by the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Mars Trilogy.

Set in a technologically sophisticated solar system 300 years in the future, 2312 follows the experiences of former world designer Swan, who in the wake of an unexpected death is led into a plot to destroy everything she has helped to create. View details

Read the NZ Listener’s June 2012 interview with Kim Stanley Robinson

Long Earth

     by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, TR, $37.99

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive-some say mad, others allege dangerous-scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson finds a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and . . . a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.

The first Science Fiction novel in over three decades in which the visionary inventor of Discworld, Sir Terry Pratchett, has created a new universe of tantalizing possibilities-a series of parallel “Earths” with doorways leading to adventure, intrigue, excitement, and an escape into the furthest reaches of the imagination. Written with award-winning novelist Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth will captivate science fiction fans of all stripes; an adventure of the highest order and an unforgettable read. View details

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

     by Laini Taylor, PB, $12.99

Half of Karou’s life is normal.  She lives in Prague, attends art school, enjoys spending time with her best friend and avoids her ex-boyfriend like the plague.  The other half is another story, reflected in her sketchbooks, full of demonic-looking half-human, half-animal characters called Chimaera, the tooth-collecting Brimstone chief among them.  When pressed Karou admits, with a sly smile, that Brimstone and the others are real.  Telling the truth with an ironic tone and a shrug is easier than coming up with a lie.  After all, who would believe that Karou was raised in Brimstone’s shop, located…Elsewhere.  Nowadays Karou runs his errands, brokering deals with tooth hunters, never knowing why Brimstone collects the teeth, only that he pays for them with wishes.  But when the gates to Elsewhere are suddenly and unexpectedly closed, Karou, isolated from her Chimaera family, begins to discover the truth about Brimstone, the teeth, and the other door in his shop, the one that doesn’t lead back to Earth.

One of the best new contributions to contemporary Fantasy literature, Daughter of Smoke and Bone brings to life an engaging cast of characters and a plot full of intrigue, whimsy, exhileration and romance. View details

Existence

     by David Brin, TR, $36.99

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumours fill Earth’s infomesh about an alien artifact.
Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope, selfishness and love, violence and an insatiable curiosity. View details

Rule 34

     by Charles Stross, PB, $27.99

DI Liz Kavanaugh: You realise policing internet porn is your life and your career went down the pan five years ago. But when a fetishist dies on your watch, the Rule 34 Squad moves from low priority to worryingly high profile.

Anwar: As an ex-con, you’d like to think your identity fraud days are over. Especially as you’ve landed a legit job (through a shady mate). Although now that you’re Consul for a shiny new Eastern European Republic, you’ve no idea what comes next.

The Toymaker: Your meds are wearing off and people are stalking you through Edinburgh’s undergrowth. But that’s OK, because as a distraction, you’re project manager of a sophisticated criminal operation. But who’s killing off potential recruits?

So how do bizarre domestic fatalities, dodgy downloads and a European spamming network fit together? The more DI Kavanaugh learns, the less she wants to find out. View details

The New and Beautiful in Art Books

Birds of America

     by John James Audubon, HB, $98.99

John James Audubon’s paintings and descriptions of the birds of North America remain the gold standard against which all ornithological portraits are judged. His landmark work, Birds of America (1838), consisted of 435 life-size prints that were published in batches of five over the course of thirteen years. Because the prints were extremely large and had to be hand-colored by a team of painters, the cost of creating the original sets was exorbitant. Today, complete copies are rare–the last to be sold commanded approximately $11.5 million in a December 2010 auction, making it the most expensive book ever.

The exquisitely preserved, complete set of prints from which this facsimile edition was created is part of the permanent collection of the Natural History Museum of London. The images were captured using state-of-the-art digital scanning techniques to preserve the intricate detail and vibrant colors of Audubon’s original work. It’s a stunning book–and a reminder to us of the importance of preserving these lovely creatures and their natural habitats. View details

The NZ Book

     by Jess Lunnon, Sandi Mackechnie, Michael Fitzsimons, and Nigel Beckford, PB, $49.99

From the artists who brought us The Wellington Book, The NZ Book is a delightful romp through the country, depicting with whimsy and accurate, if tongue-in-cheek, facts just what it’s like to live today in the land of the long white cloud. Although light-hearted, the book is also an elegant representation of the Kiwi spirit and a joy for residents, ex-pats, and visitors alike. View details

Gorgeous prints of the art from The NZ Book can also be ordered on-line; you can view two examples (titled ‘Welcome to Wellington’ and ‘Bucket Fountain’) at vicbooks’ Kelburn store.

American Ads of the 50s and 60s

     edited by Jim Heiman, HB, $110.00

Gleaned from thousands of images, this companion set of books offers the best of American print advertising in the age of the Big Idea.

At the height of American consumerism magazines were flooded with clever campaigns selling everything from girdles to guns. These optimistic indicators paint a fascinating picture of the colorful capitalism that dominated the spirit of the 1950s and 60s, as concerns about the Cold War gave way to the carefree booze-and-cigarettes Mad Men era.

Also included is a wide range of significant advertising campaigns from both eras, giving insight into the zeitgeist of the period. Bursting with fresh, crisp colors, these ads have been digitally mastered to look as bright and new as the day they first hit newsstands. View details

New From Adam Art Gallery

Shadowgraphs

     by Batchen, Sullivan, et al, PB, $19.00

Shadowgraphs examines the camera-less photographs produced by Len Lye in the late 1940s, which the artist dubbed ‘shadowgraphs’. The book provides new insights into the practice of this extraordinary and celebrated NZ modernist artist. View details

Points of Contact

     by Cann, Vicente, Barton and Brett, PB, $34.99

Points of Contact focuses on the work of NZ artist Jim Allen, including the historical and conceptual connections between Allen and two of his key contemporaries: Len Lye and Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica. View details

Dark Sky

     by Batchen and Barton, TR, $15.00

Dark Sky explores how photography has been deployed to capture the skies. Delving into the intersections between science, art, and commerce, Dark Sky provides an occasion to think through our fascination for the celestial realm and examine its technological and visual consequences. View details

Behind Closed Doors

     by Barton, Pardington and Strongman, HB, $49.99

Behind Closed Doors offers a rare view into the intimate world of private art collecting in and around Wellington, giving readers a fascinating insight into the more personal stories that weave works of art into the fabric of peoples’ lives. View details

Triumph

     by Greg Broadmore, HB, $34.99

Master illustrator and story-teller Greg Broadmore chronicles two of the interplanetary misadventures of Lord Cockswain as he enforces Earth justice on the belligerent savages of our solar system using excessive violence, bad language and good old-fashioned rayguns.

“When Steampunk meets adventure and adventure meets comedy and comedy meets ingenuity and ingenuity meets charm and charm meets wonder and wonder meets pleasure, the result is a Triumph. Dr. Grordbort is the future. And the past. Which makes an ideal present.” –Stephen Fry View details

To enjoy more of Lord Cockswain’s raygun-toting adventures, check out Wellington local Dan Milward’s new site, Gamefroot, where users can create, play and share their own 2d video games.

The Gamefroot team have worked closely with author and illustrator Greg Broadmore to bring Lord Cockswain’s swagger to the gaming world, with awesome results.

Click to play the first game:  “V for Venusians”

Click to play the second game:  “Venusian Vengeance!”

Chronicles of Harris Burdick

     by Chris Van Allsburg, HB, $34.99

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals (awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American children’s picture book). The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children’s literature.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is a collection of short stories inspired by the curious and intriguing art in Van Allsburg’s previous title, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Each of Allsburg’s illustrations is reproduced and paired with a matching story from one of fourteen great modern writers of children’s and adult literature. Contributors include Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, and Lemony Snicket. View details

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