On Friday evening, while I was tidying up some other parts of this blog (the reviews section) I re-read my review of Michael Marshall Smith’s collection of short stories, What You Make It. This gave me the link for MMS’s web site, where I found out that his long-awaited new novel The Straw Men is now out in hardback. Ooh! Ooh!
So I picked up a copy yesterday afternoon while we were in town. It’s published under the name “Michael Marshall”, without the “Smith”:
“The big news is that Michael has just announced that THE STRAW MEN will be coming out under a – slightly – different name. In both the US and UK the novel will be published under the name Michael Marshall. The move was initially precipitated in the US, due to the publishing last year of a book called STRAW MEN by Martin J. Smith. On consideration, however, Michael has decided to consolidate the split in names in order to create the possibility of publishing different types of novels under the two names. His next novel will also come out under the name Michael Marshall, but he does already have plans for a forthcoming Michael Marshall Smith novel.”
Looks like he’s doing an Iain (M.) Banks, then, because it looks like The Straw Men is more of a mainstream thriller rather than a whacked-out paranoid slipstream detective/SF crossover kind of thing. But that’s cool.
By coincidence, yesterday afternoon was also when I found out that Banks has a new novel coming out next week: Dead Air. I saw the poster for it in Ottakar’s bookshop on George St. (And since when is that an Ottakar’s? Last time I looked it was James Thin.) It’s an “Iain Banks” book, so not SF. His last mainstream book, The Business was fun, but a bit lightweight. I’m curious to see what this one will be like.
And while I was snuffling around Amazon looking for the link for Dead Air, I happened to see that “customers who bought this item had also bought”: Engine City by Ken Macleod (not out until November). This is the final book in his “Engines Of Light” trilogy, and I haven’t even read the first two yet. They’re sitting on my “to read” shelf next to my desk right now, staring up at me with baleful spines as if to warn me that if I don’t read them soon, there’ll be trouble.
Also on the list of “customers who bought” Dead Air was Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. (It isn’t going to be out until March 2003, so at least that will give me time to get my copy of Cryptonomicon back from James and re-read it.) Apparently Stephenson has been writing Quicksilver with a fountain pen:
“I’ve written every word of it so far with fountain pen on paper. Part of the theory was that it would make me less long-winded, but it hasn’t actually worked. I think it has improved the quality of the actual work somewhat, simply because it is actually easier to edit something on paper than on screen. So usually every page of the original manuscript has been gone over 2 or 3 times before it goes into the computer and then when I type it into the computer that’s another pass again where I can make changes if I want to.”
The novel is set about 300 years ago, with some loose familial connections to the characters in Cryptonomicon, and should delve further into the history of cryptography. Cryptonomicon was an utterly fascinating read. Even though I’ve only been through it once, it has definitely registered as one of my favourite books of all time. (Note to self: must do a “favourite books” page at some point…)
Finally, the Hugos. Worldcon is happening this weeken in San Jose. I’d thought that the Hugo awards were being presented on Saturday evening (last night), so I went scurrying across the web this morning to see who’d won. Couldn’t find a damn thing, though. Probably because they’re not due to be announced until this evening (Sunday). But while I was looking, I did stumble across Neil Gaiman’s weblog, where I found out that he has a new book out: Coraline. I’ve read–and loved–all of Gaiman’s Sandman work, but I haven’t read any of his novels. They always hover on the borderline of “buy me” when I’m browsing through a book shop. Coraline, though, looks like a must have.