Featured Book: ILIUM by Dan Simmons
From the multiple award-winning author of the Hyperion Cantos – one of the most acclaimed and popular series in contemporary science fiction – comes ILIUM, a huge and powerful epic of high-tech gods, human heroes, total war, and the extraordinary transcendence of ordinary beings.
From the towering heights of Olympos Mons on Mars, the mighty Zeus and his immortal family of gods, goddesses, and demigods look down upon a momentous battle, observing – and often influencing-the legendary exploits of Paris, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and the clashing armies of Greece and Troy.
Thomas Hockenberry, former twenty-first-century professor and Iliad scholar, watches as well. It is Hockenberry's duty to observe and report on the Trojan War's progress to the so-called deities who saw fit to return him from the dead. But the muse he serves has a new assignment for the wary scholic, one dictated by Aphrodite herself, and Hockenberry is soon way over his head.
Meanwhile, on an Earth profoundly changed since the departure of the Post-Humans centuries earlier, the great events on the bloody plains of Ilium serve as mere entertainment. Its scenes of unrivaled heroics and unequaled carnage add excitement to human lives devoid of courage, strife, labor, and purpose. But this eloi-like existence is not enough for Harman, a man in the last year of his last Twenty. That rarest of post-postmodern men-an "adventurer" – he intends to explore far beyond the boundaries of his world before his allotted time expires, in search of a lost past, a devastating truth, and an escape from his own inevitable "final fax."
Meanwhile, from the radiation-swept reaches of Jovian space, four sentient machines race to investigate-and, perhaps, terminate-the potentially catastrophic emissions of unexplained quantum-flux emanating from a mountain-top miles above the terraformed surface of Mars…
The first book in a remarkable two-part epic to be concluded in Olympos, Dan Simmons's ILIUM is a breathtaking adventure, enormous in scope and imagination, sweeping across time and space to connect three seemingly disparate stories in fresh, thrilling, and totally unexpected ways. A truly masterful work of speculative fiction, it is quite possibly Simmons's finest achievement to date in an already storied literary career.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (fiction)
Think Hamlet in Wisconsin. Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally.
But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm – and into Edgar's mother's affections.
Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires – spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward...
The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie (fiction)
Renaissance Florence's artistic zenith and Mughal India's cultural summit are the twin beacons of Rushdie's ingenious new novel. The connecting link between the two cities and epochs is the magically beautiful hidden princess, Qara Köz, so gorgeous that her uncovered face makes battle-hardened warriors drop to their knees.
The story begins when a mysterious yellow-haired man in a multicoloured coat steps off a rented bullock cart and walks into 16th-century Sikri:He speaks excellent Persian, has a stock of conjurer's tricks and claims to be Akbar's uncle. He carries with him a letter from Queen Elizabeth I, which he translates for Akbar with vast incorrectness. But it is the story of Akbar's great-aunt, Qara Köz that the man has come to the court to tell. In the Shah's employ is Janissary general Nino Argalia, an Italian convert to Islam, whose own story takes the narrative to Renaissance Florence. In Rushdie's version of the West and East, each culture becomes the dream of the other.
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Lonely Planet Publications (nonfiction)
Even the most avid readers of travel guides and travel literature will not have encountered a book quite like this one. All the writers who contribute to the Lonely Planet travel guide series have put heads, knowledge, and experience together and come up with an A-Z series of capsule profiles of every country in the world, 230 in number.
Each country gets a two-page spread, on which are placed, like luscious dishes set before one at a feast, illustrations that are typical of Lonely Planet's unique, non-picture-postcard brand of shots. The accompanying text presents a cogent rundown of the best experiences for gaining the essence of the place; books to read beforehand; music to listen to before you go; food and drink to consume once you are there; and a few brief but pungent closing comments on the trademark things to do and buy and see and what, ultimately, is the best surprise awaiting the tourist.
All titles available at Vijitha Yapa Bookshop on request.