Dafydd Neal Dyar (dafydd@dyarstraights.com)
Sun, 11 Mar 2001 12:33:50 -0800


I've got a couple of books en route from Asahiya, so I should be posting a
Gundam book report on Monday or Tuesday. Meanwhile, here's some info about
non-Gundam books that I think will be of interest.

First off, Ballantine Del Rey will NOT be reprinting the Schodt translations of
the Tomino novelizations this year. They're definitely taking a "wait and see"
approach and not planning to release the books as a tie-in to the upcoming
Cartoon Network broadcast of First Gundam. Since that doesn't kick off until
June or July, Ballantine Del Rey can wait until next year to reprint the books
and still have half a year in which to tie them in with the ongoing series. But
once burned, twice shy -- they won't reissue the books unless they're sure
they'll sell.

Next up, Star Wars. The same book publication forecast that showed the Gundam
isn't even a blip on the radar yet -- not surprising given the effect of
Minovsky particles (^_^);; -- showed the following offerings from Ballantine
Del Rey and LucasBooks:

Apr = Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Edge of Victory: Conquest by J. Gregory
Keyes
May = Star Wars: Rogue Planet by Greg Bear (paperback reprint)
Jun = Star Wars: Cloak Of Deception by James Luceno
Jul = Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Balance Point by Kathy Tyers (paperback
reprint)
Aug = Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Edge Of Victory: Rebirth by J. Gregory
Keyes
Oct = Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Star By Star by Troy Denning (hardcover)
Dec = Star Wars: Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves (paperback
reprint)

Meanwhile, on 15 Feb 2001, Ballantine Del Rey released Star Wars: Darth Maul -
Saboteur by James Luceno exclusively as an e-book. The $1.99, 14,000-word
offering is the preface to Michael Reaves' Shadow Hunter, published in hardcover
in January and due to be reprinted in paperback in December. You can download
Saboteur for various e-book platforms from a number of book distribution sites,
including Amazon Books < http://www.amazon.com >, Barnes & Noble <
http://www.bn.com > and Powell's Books < http://www.powells.com >.

Then there's the BattleTech novelization franchise from Penguin/Roc

Apr = BattleTech #50: Flashpoint by Loren L. Coleman
Jun = BattleTech #51: Test Of Vengeance by Bryan Nystul
Sep = BattleTech #52: Of Patriots & Tyrants by Loren L. Coleman
Oct = BattleTech #53: Call Of Duty by Blaine Lee Pardoe
Dec = MechWarrior #4: Initiation To War by Bob Charrette

The Passing Of The Techno-Mages, Book I: Casting Shadows, the first volume of a
new Babylon 5 trilogy by Jeanne Cavalos, is on sale now. Book II: Summoning
Light is due in July and Book III: Invoking Darkness in December.

And now for something completely different -- I'd like to introduce you to the
OTHER Mark Simmons.

Wm. Mark Simmons is a writer whose only fault is that he doesn't get published
more.

He first came to my attention 10 years ago with his debut novel IN THE NET OF
DREAMS (Popular Library, 1990). It was actually half a book -- in those days,
no one would publish anything over 300 pages for the mass market. The second
half appeared as WHEN DREAMS COLLIDE (Questar, 1992). It's basically the same
trope as Larry Niven's DREAM PARk and Bruce Bethke's HEADCRASH -- a
"live-action" RPG inside a Virtual Reality "consensual universe" goes haywire,
trapping the participants in a fantasy world that can now kill them for real.
The protagonist goes into that world, a typical Middle Earth type magical
fantasy, to set things right, only to discover that it's not an accident -- a
mad "sorceress" has taken over the computer and is trying to make all her dark
fantasies come true. Even worse, she's the protagonist's estranged ex-wife.

The story is told with great intelligence, wit and humor, drawing out all of the
implications of what might happen if VR could ever be made to work as described
by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. In some ways, it's reductio ad absurdam,
as many of the commonly accepted aspects of a magical world have unexpected
consequences when combined with human nature and the limits of technology. The
author clearly knows all about computers and what they can and can't do.

It was four more years before Wm. Mark Simmons surfaced again, this time with
ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE (1996, Baen, reprinted 1999, ISBN 0-671-87721-6).
Although the cover blurb characterizes the book as "Dracula meets the
Godfather," it's really more akin to the Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV series,
which it predates. Vampires and their werewolf minions are real, as are
leprechauns and other fey creatures. Being the next thing to immortal, they've
established an invisible empire, with enclaves in New York, Seattle and other
major cities, where they secretly rule the night. The protagonist is about to
upset the balance of power in this underworld, because he's turning into a
vampire, but not in the usual way. He is, in fact, stuck somewhere in between
human and vampire and represents quite a problem for both.

The book is a fun read and really takes the premise and runs with it. Another
book is now in the pipeline and, judging by the title, DEAD ON MY FEET, it's
either a sequel to ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE or at the very least set in the same
milieu. I'm really looking forward to it, although it's not being published any
time this year.

I also hope that Wm. Mark Simmons turns his hand to hard SF....

-Z-

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