Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Recent Reads

So, I won a book raffle at Balticon and have finally got through my, uh, winnings.

First up, Bud Sparhawk's collection "Non-Parallel Universes." I admit to bias here. Bud is not just a fantastic writer of short stories but fun to hang out with in convention bars. I already owned some of the stories in this collection, due to his regular contributions to Analog, but some were new to me. All excellent, as always.

Second - The Biggest Bounty by Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano. I was quite skeptical about this book - it's not exactly serious and I keep my funny bone in a very odd place. So I was delighted and surprised to find I loved it. It's basically the same tone and feel as Guardians of the Galaxy - so I highly recommend it to GotG fans.  It's about two less than competent bounty hunters bumbling their way towards...well, yeah. The biggest bounty ever.

Third - Three short novels by Diana Bastine. I did these, I swear, in the order I read them. I liked the look of these - Source, Shapeshifter, and Selkie. They focus on fairies, which I am inordinately fond of.

I was...profoundly disappointed.

First of all, the print layout of these books was literally the worst I'd ever seen. I know mine's not great (Uh, yeah, I do know there should be headers) but I don't double space. Or leave Word artifacts in the book. To be fair, it was remarkably clean and typo-free, but the layout was terrible. Brief research indicated that it was even worse than I thought. Bastine's publisher, Helm Publishing, appears to be a vanity press. Assuming I have the right Helm Publishing, and I think I do, the publisher has two thumbs down from Writer Beware. Now, Bastine has got her rights back and the books will be re-released. I don't know what happened, of course. I do know that the layout is too shoddy for any publisher to put their name to. But I'm inclined to see Bastine as a victim of the desire to be published.

Second, unfortunately, I found Bastine's knowledge of fairies to be insufficient (Most especially, she doesn't seem to know the difference between Tuatha de Danaan and Cait Sidhe). If you aren't bothered by that the way I am, the books are fun, and hopefully the new versions (apparently e-only) won't have the layout issues these do. And she does get diversity points for having same sex couples and treating them as pretty much normal (except for the homophobic bad guy, of course :P). But I found it very hard to get past the layout issues.

Tip #1: Never pay to be published.
Tip #2: If you are signing with a publisher, get your hands on their finished print books so you know they make a quality product.

At the same time, I acquired "If We Had Known" - a science fiction anthology of "cautionary tales" by e-Spec books. To end on a good note, this book was also excellent and enjoyable and I highly recommend it. (I figured it would be from the names in the TOC, but...)