January 26, 2010

This week we'll be featuring an in depth review of an outstanding new book, namely Incarceron.

One hesitates to refer to Incarceron as Catherine Fisher's new book, as it was published in the UK in 2007, however one feels no hesitation in referring to it as a terrific fantasy. In Incarceron Fisher presents a world which responded to violent disorder 150 years ago by enforcing order at all costs. To achieve order it came up with a two tiered plan. All criminal and otherwise disorderly elements were enclosed within a living, sentient prison, designed by their best scientific minds, the Sapients. The prison is named Incarceron, and is meant to use its absolute control over organic and inorganic matter to impose a paradise for the prisoners. For this task 70 Sapients entered Incarceron along with the prisoners to help insure that its purpose is met. Incarceron was then removed from the sight and knowledge of those remaining, with the exception of its powerful Warden, who lives in the outer world.

Artificial Intelligences designed to oversee humanity must belong to some sort of Union which negotiated for them the right to go bad and turn on their makers for as you may have guessed, unbenownst to all but the Warden, Incarceron has turned itself into a nightmare rather than a paradise for its inhabitants. The outer world too, is a sort of prison, in which security has been achieved by enforcing a static society made roughly fourteenth century in technology arts, and politics. Maintenance of the era is called protocol, and while powerful persons may breach it with a washing machine here, and an elevator there, in general an effort has been made to abolish the effects of time on society and culture. In the midst of this interesting dual prison Fischer inserts standard fantasy and fairy tale components. The warden's daughter, Claudia, arranged to be married to the brutish heir to the throne, a scheming Queen, a ruthlessly political and ambitious father, the true heir to the throne, the child of the dead king's first marriage, reported dead but cast into Incarceron without knowledge of his past, and so forth. These elements are analogues to the outer world itself, which has imposed a static storyline on itself which is encased in a much more complex narrative system.

Fischer's control of her material is masterly, and the effect marvelous. For example stock scenes, such as the hero confronting the dragon in its lair, the notion of being transfixed by the dragon's eye, are rendered with a compelling freshness and complexity here. The dual exploration of escape from the security of imposed order, told through dual narrative perspectives, invigorates Incarceron's fairy tale elements and gives great depth to its well constructed characters. This is a terrific fantasy book indeed and, once it is on hand, will be the answer to a question regulalry posed around here, "is there anything awesome that's just come out?"

Here they are! Our weekly picks for the two best: two hardcover, two paperback, and two children's books. The very best new arrivals to leap out of the box and onto our shelves this week. Call or email us if you want more information on any of these titles, or to have us hold you a copy. Or stop in and check them out in person. We'd love to see you. Thanks as always for sharing your reading with us!

 

Incarceron

Incarceron
By Fisher, Catherine
2010-01 - Dial Books
9780803733961 - Hardcover
List Price $17.99 - Your Price: $14.39

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See the review above! ...More

Wild Child: And Other Stories

Wild Child: And Other Stories
By Boyle, T. Coraghessan
2010-01 - Viking Books
9780670021420 - Hardcover
List Price $25.95 - Your Price: $20.76

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If you woke up wondering whether T.C. Boyle has published a new collection of short stories lately, the answer is yes, today in fact! This is a broad ranging collection of Boyle's most recent work. ...More

Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes Pop-Up



Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes Pop-Up
By Reinhart, Matthew
2010-01 - Candlewick Press (MA)
9780763631710 - Hardcover
List Price $29.99 - Your Price: $23.99

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Have Reinhardt and Sabuda ever made a pop up book that wasn't awesome? Of course not! And with Gods and Heroes as their subject matter you can be sure this is a jaw dropping work of art for all ages. ...More

The Manual of Detection

The Manual of Detection
By Berry, Jedediah
2010-01 - Penguin Books
9780143116516 - Paperback
List Price $15.00 - Your Price: $12.00

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The Manual of Detection is just too intriguing not to check out, particularly now that it's in paperback. Sporting an "unlikely detective armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook (who) must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people's dreams", and rave reviews from good writers like Kelly Link and Karen Joy Fowler, everything conspires to make one want to add this book to even the most precariously burgeoning nightstand. ...More

Cutting for Stone



Cutting for Stone
By Verghese, Abraham
2010-01 - Vintage Books USA
9780375714368 - Paperback
List Price $15.95 - Your Price: $12.76

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Cutting For Stone Veghese's powerful novel, set partly in Ethiopia and partly in New York, easily earns The Weekly Top 2 DBBTONIP (Deserving Big Book That's Out Now In Paperback) rating. ...More

I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It



I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It
By Selzer, Adam
2010-01 - Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
9780385735032 - Paperback
List Price $7.99 - Your Price: $6.39

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Adam Seltzer, whose Pirates of the Retail Wasteland is a store favorite, has, gasp, written a parody of YA Vampire and Zombie fiction, I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked it a Lot.. How could such a serious topic be the subject of a parody? Is it really true that "Alley thought dead guys had no reason to live...but wild corpses couldn't drag her way from Doug." The author has put up a great website, ikissedazombie.com with funny videos and more. ...More

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