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Karen Ostertag's blog

New Speculative Fiction for November 2010

New to our shelves:

The Secret History of Fantasy by Peter S. Beagle, ed. F (Fantasy Secret)
The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett (2, Mrs. Quent) F
Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks (1, Legends of Shannara) F
The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars by Steven Brust (Fairy Tale series) F
Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) F, H
He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson by Christopher Conlon, ed. H (Horror He)
Haunted Legends by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas, eds. H (Horror Haunted)
Petty Magic: Being the Memoirs and Confessions of Miss Evelyn Harbinger, Temptress and Troublemaker

Terror! Passion! Gothic Romance

A dark and stormy night.  A mysterious castle, rife with hidden passageways.  A wicked usurper.  A strange prophecy.  A beautiful heiress, innocent prey to his dark desires.  Frightening apparitions!  Family secrets!  Madness!  A really big helmet!  And the faithful love who will overcome all obstacles to save her....

In a nutshell, this is Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto, the very first Gothic romance.  It was published in 1764, the same year that Ann Radcliffe-- another famous Gothic writer-- was born.  Today, we might find his work a bit absurd and overwrought, but Walpole deserves credit for trying something completely new.

No Sparkles Here: Old-School Vampires

It's that time of year again.  The air is getting colder; trees are shaking off their summer raiment to reveal the skeleton branches beneath.  With each passing day, we lose a few more minutes of precious daylight.  The burgeoning moon is cold comfort to those who already yearn for the vanishing sun.  As the shadows lengthen, the 31 titles of this month's speculative fiction list lie ready to remind you why we should fear the long night.

You won't find any pale-but-sexy, misunderstood immortals in this month's offerings.  No compelling, tall, dark strangers with an unfortunate dietary requirement.  No soulful soulless writhing in metaphysical melodrama, no Byronic brooding.  (Okay... maybe a little brooding.)  No vegetarians.  And most definitely, positively, and categorically: NO SPARKLES.

New Romance Fiction for October 2010

In paperback:

Deadly Little Secrets by Jeanne Adams C, M
Taken by Midnight by Lara Adrian (8, Midnight Breed) C, S
Warrior by Zoe Archer (1, The Blades of the Rose) H, S, M
Swept Away by a Kiss by Katharine Ashe H
Don't Cry by Beverly Barton C, M
When Blood Calls by J. K. Beck (1, Shadow Keepers) C, S
Last to Die by Kate Brady (2, Sheridan) C, M
Mark: Secret Cowboy by Pamela Britton (Harlequin American Romance: The Codys: First Family of Rodeo) C, W
Assassin's Heart by Monica Burns (2, Order of the Sicari) C, S, A

New Speculative Fiction for October 2010

New to our shelves:

The Living Dead 2 by John Joseph Adams, ed. (2, The Living Dead) H (shelved at Horror Living)
Dawnthief by James Barclay (1, Chronicles of the Raven) F
A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan (3, Onyx Court) F
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang SF, H
The Walrus & the Warwolf: A Chronicle of an Age of Darkness by Hugh Cook (Planet Stories) F, SF
The Fall by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan (2, The Strain) H, SF
The Year's Best Science Fiction 2010 by Gardner Dozois, ed. (27, The Year's Best Science Fiction) SF
What Distant Deeps by David Drake (8, RCN (Leary/Mundy)) SF

I'M WITH THE BANNED

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.  Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.  (Yes, the author, not her book.)  Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.  Twenty Boy Summer, by Sarah Ockler.  Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson.  What do all of these have in common?  All were deemed objectionable, or unsuitable, or downright offensive.  All were challenged in a library or school in the United States in 2010-- all, in fact, within the past month.  Today kicks off Banned Books Week, when libraries nationwide will be focusing on the importance of our First Amendment rights.  In light of current events, could there be a better time to talk about the freedom to read?

BURNING BOOKS

Got your attention, didn't I?  No, I'm not advocating the destruction of library property-- quite the opposite.  Banned Books Week begins this Saturday, a time when libraries nationwide will be focusing on the importance of our First Amendment rights.  I know, it seems a little strange to think about romances and the First Amendment in the same sentence.  The more Puritan-minded of our Founding Fathers probably didn't even dream of authors like Laurell K. Hamilton, Bertrice Small, or Lora Leigh when they protected our freedom to read.  Even so, fans of steamy romances should spare a moment this week to thank those sober gentlemen.  They found it necessary to a free society to protect all speech-- even the speech they disagreed with, even the speech they personally found frivolous, or immoral, or offensive.  To celebrate, I'm going to talk about books that some would consider to be all three: really HOT romances! 

New Speculative Fiction for September 2010

New to our shelves:

The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell H
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester SF
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty H
Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll F, H, R
Dark Echo by F. G. Cottam H, F
Omnitopia Dawn by Diane Duane (1, Omnitopia) SF
Dracula in Love: The Private Diary of Mina Harker by Karen Essex H, R
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant H
Death's Excellent Vacation by Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner, eds. H, F, R (shelved at Horror Deaths)
The Stainless Steel Rat Returns by Harry Harrison (The Stainless Steel Rat) SF

New Romance Fiction for September 2010

In paperback:

Black Magic by Cherry Adair C, S
Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian (3, Midnight Breed) C, S
Seduction Wears Sapphires by Renee Bernard (2, Jaded Gentlemen) H
Bedeviled Angel by Annette Blair (2, Works like Magick) C, S
Royal Seduction by Jennifer Blake (1, Royal Family of Ruthenia) H, M
Operation Prince Charming by Phyllis Bourne C, O
Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann C, W
Our Red Hot Romance Is Leaving Me Blue by Dixie Cash (6, Domestic Equalizers) C, M, S
Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase (4, Fallen Women) H
Whisper Kiss by Deborah Cooke (5, Dragonfire) C, F, S

THOUGHT POLICE

America's freedoms-- of speech and religion, particularly-- have been very much in the news lately.  At the end of September, libraries across the country will be putting a spotlight on the First Amendment by observing Banned Books Week.  In light of this month's events, I thought this would be a perfect time to look at the subject of censorship in speculative fiction.

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