Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Books around the world

There are lot of interesting stuff coming out in bookstores lately that aren't shelved in the science-fiction/fantasy shelves. For instance, a recent trip to Fully-Booked in Rockwell (before they closed for renovation) led me to discover a handful of books that I wished I could purchase if I had the money at that time.

What's more interesting is that a couple of these books were penned by non-Americans, which makes me enthusiastic again for buying books. At the top of the list is a Russian cyber-punk thriller written by Alexander Garros called Headcrusher. A national best-seller in Russia, it's now promised to be an international cult novel.

Here's the synopsis:
26-year-old Vadim hates his job in the PR department of Latvia's biggest bank. He spends his time playing his favourite shoot-em-up computer game, "Headcrusher," and composing insulting emails about his bosses. When his manager catches him writing one such email, Vadim is so overcome with rage that he kills him. Then he kills the bank's security guard too, because he has seen him disposing of the body. Bumping people off comes to seem as easy as playing a computer game (or moving money between bank accounts) and Vadim embarks on a killing spree, putting paid to anyone who annoys him. But, as he becomes embroiled in the murky activities of the corrupt bank, which is laundering money for Mafia criminals, he starts to lose touch with reality. Where does truth end and fantasy begin - and is life just one big computer game?

This high-octane debut novel has the energy of a Tarantino film, the game-playing of The Matrix and the philosophical quirkiness of Fight Club. Nothing quite like it has come out of Russia before. It has been a major bestseller there and has been picked up by publishers around the world.
For those who like their zombies, Alan Golsher does a number on the Beatles and throws in the requisite ninjas in Paul is Undead. However, what made this book stick in my memory is the fact that-- after perusing a few pages-- it actually has a section on the Beatles' visit in Manila. Oh joy!

Here's what you can expect:
Are readers ready for a world in which the Beatles just wanna eat your brains? Goldsherthinks so, and he may be right. In this humor-filled splatterfest, the rise and fall of the zombie Beatles unfolds through eyewitness accounts, newspaper clippings, and interviews. Violence and music go hand-in-hand as the zombiefied Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney fight, eat, and rock their way to fame and popularity while ninja lord Ringo Starr tries to keep them out of trouble. Nothing can stop them--not even a vampiric Pete Best, zombie-killing Mick Jagger, rival ninja Yoko Ono, or bad reviews. In fact, their only enemies may be one another, as personal conflicts threaten to break them up for good. Roughly paralleling the real-world career of the Beatles, this alternate history reimagines successes, failures, and rivalries with over-the-top bizarro charm.
A third book I've already seen as paperback in shelves, thus increasing its chance that I'll pick this one up. The very strange The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway has already received its fair share of mixed reviews. However, at paperback prices, I'm so there anyway.

Check it out:
This unclassifiable debut from the son of legendary thriller author John le Carré is simultaneously a cautionary tale about the absurdity of war; a sardonic science fiction romp through Armageddon; a conspiracy-fueled mystery replete with ninjas, mimes and cannibal dogs; and a horrifying glimpse of a Lovecraftian near-future. Go Away bombs have erased entire sections of reality from the face of the Earth. A nameless soldier and his heroic best friend witness firsthand the unimaginable aftermath outside the Livable Zone, finding that the world has unraveled and is home to an assortment of nightmarish mutations. With the fate of humankind in the balance, the pair become involved in an unlikely and potentially catastrophic love triangle. Readers who prefer linear, conventional plotlines may find Harkaway overly verbose and frustratingly tangential, but those intrigued by works that blur genre boundaries will find this wildly original hybrid a challenging and entertaining entry in the post-apocalyptic canon.
Lastly, I've found this one book by Russian writer Victor Pelevin, The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, quite interesting despite the fact that I still have an older book of his on my to-read pile (The Helmet of Horror). And though the reviews have also been mixed about this book, well, what the hell, right?

Summary here:
Russian novelist Pelevin's chaotic latest examines contemporary Russia as viewed through the eyes of A. Hu-li, a 2,000-year-old werefox who is able to transform into a beautiful nymphet. The opening chapter is both an introduction to werefoxes as well as an account of how werefoxes, working as prostitutes, utilize their stunning looks to absorb a man's life energy. Hu-li's experiences are standard for an ancient werefox until she meets Alexander, an attractive Russian intelligence officer who happens to be a werewolf. The two share a whirlwind romance, and after some trouble, shack up in Hu-li's bomb shelter. While hiding out, Hu-li and Alexander argue about religion, death, truth and the like until they both claim to be the super-werewolf. This argument—and Hu-li's disclosure of her true age—rupture the bliss. Pelevin creates interesting enough characters, but the unexplainable plot twists and the author's preoccupation with philosophical ramblings are nearly as perilous as a silver bullet.
There was a fifth book I found but I can't remember the title. The only thing I could remember was the fact that it was written by an Israeli author. Unfortunately, because Fully-Booked closed down for renovation, I can't go back to check. Curses, foiled!

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