Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Baby Merchant by Kit Reed

Kit Reed is the highly esteemed author of the A.L.A. Alex Award winning novel Thinner Than Thou, a book reviewer for The Washington Post Book World and The New York Times Book Review, and a board member of the Authors League Fund. The Baby Merchant is her fourth book published by TOR Books.

If you'll allow a digression, I'd like to step outside the review for a moment. This site is in its infancy still, and I must confess it was with great eagerness that I received my first review copy, The Baby Merchant, from TOR Books. I've heralded and lambasted TOR novels on this site in the past, but it is with a heavy heart that I review this book, a book I did not pay for, from an author I had heard wonderful things about and whom I enjoyed listening to speak on a panel at Readercon in 2005.

The Baby Merchant, while technically superb, is the most hate-filled, venomous, scathing piece of misandry I have ever had the displeasure to experience. The vile loathing of men that permeates each page is unparalleled in genre fiction. It is the literate treatment of the stereotypical Lifetime movie: Evil man beats wife, kills the dog, and steals the kids -- but the heroic and pure-hearted woman saves the day by outsmarting the lackwit brute.

The story is kind of neat; it's the details that sour the book. An unwanted boy grows up and fills a capitalistic void in a near future of barren wombs for women in their 30's or older. This is reportedly due to additives in food and impurities in the air and water, but there are hints that the government is trying to curb birthrates in lower income families. Unfortunately for some, it seems to have affected all women over a certain age. Tom Starbird is a provider of babies for the ultra rich and powerful who can not have children on their own. A sociopath with deranged ideals, he believes he is doing good in placing 'unwanted' (abducted) children with loving families who will give the child everything they could ever want or need. The completely twisted sub plot is that Reed obviously has a sense of empathy for this character; she makes no secret of these beliefs by showing us a preposterous relationship between a useless boy and his uncaring mother. This is exactly what Starbird exists to prevent, and playing God seems to be exactly what Reed wishes to do.

Each and every male character introduced is more contemptible than the last, while each female is either the perfect, talented, and intelligent heroine, or has a man to blame for her shortcomings. Pregnancy is portrayed as a curse "your body's been carjacked", but not being able to get pregnant is even worse. Numerous times it's drilled into our heads that the sperm donor is of no consequence -- 'it's her body after all.'

"This isn't your inalienable right, you jerk, it has nothing to do with you." -in reference to her pregnancy, specifically with regards to the father, a character who, at this point in the novel, has done nothing but try to take responsibility for his actions and be a father to his child. Of course, later in the novel, he is revealed to be a total scumbag. He has a penis, after all.

And of course, the woman who thought this detestable vitriol is the heroine of the story, Sasha.

The protagonist couple in search of baby features a despicable egoist of a news anchor husband, and a miserable high-powered lawyer of a wife who just wants a baby (and has gone through a myriad of torturous procedures to become pregnant; her husband has done the same, but his efforts are belittled by our narrator). The husband, Jake Zorn, uses his muck-raking Geraldoesque investigative reporting to blackmail Tom Starbird into acquiring a baby for the aging couple, while the downtrodden wife, Maury, wistfully languishes oblivious to all wrongdoing. The baby that Starbird chooses as the perfect match for the Zorn's happens to be the previously unwanted baby of the oh-so pitiable billionaire heiress and art prodigy, Sasha. I say previously unwanted because despite her intention of giving the baby up for adoption, at the moment of birth she magically develops motherly instincts and becomes Super Mom.

A scared child mother throughout most of the book, when Sasha's baby is finally abducted by Starbird, she becomes a supernatural (and unbelievable) force to be reckoned with. We are even to believe that she blackmails the Savannah, Georgia police department into flying her by helicopter to find her missing child.

As I stated before, the novel is well constructed. Kit Reed's writing is technically flawless, and the juxtaposition of her different points of view is intriguing -- if one can get past her flagrant bitterness towards the male of the species. I could not. When the women save the day, and all the men end up dead or in prison, Reed still can not help herself -- she makes a last ditch attack on deadbeat dads, further trying to reinforce that men are vile. As if there were no deadbeat moms.

The Baby Merchant is hate mongering of the highest order, and I have never been made so physically ill and upset by a work of fiction. Avoid it like the plague.


Collector's Notes:

Thankfully, this novel promises to go widely unread and quickly forgotten. Avoid.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Clan Corporate by Charles Stross

Charlie Stross doesn't write bad books. I'm quite certain that's a quantifiable scientific law. If he were ever to steer close to mediocrity though, it might look like The Clan Corporate.

The Merchant Princes series began with a bang in The Family Trade. Miriam Beckstein, after being summarily fired from her job as an investigative journalist for digging in the wrong grave, discovers a horrible family secret by way of a locket that induces teleportation to an alternate world (The Gruinmarkt). As Miriam discovers she is not who or what she'd always thought, we're thrust into brutal familial politics, a culture of blackmail and assassination, and an ongoing blood feud with family members from a hidden third world (New London).

In The Hidden Family, Miriam (or Helge as her new family knows her) strikes out on her own as a start-up capitalist in New London by marketing existing modern patents of inventions not yet discovered in this alternate world. She is markedly succesful in her venture and succeeds in turning her clan on its ear, when a family betrayal brings the entire clan to its knees. A high ranking cousin in clan security has become an informer to the U.S. government, made authorities aware of the Gruinmarkt and the security nightmare of their inhabitant's teleportation abilities, and now all clan activites in the U.S. are at risk.

The Clan Corporate begins with Miriam as something of a prisoner. She has upset the balance of power in the clan, and is being reined in by the powers that be. Her relatives are insistent on her marriage to a brain damaged prince so as to align the clan with royalty, a match which Miriam rails against. However, unlike the first two books, Miriam seems to have lost her heroine proclivities. She sits idly by while insults pile on after injury. She seems to be a different character; her will has been broken. That is probably why the story feels so wrong.

Much of the book is told through alternate points of view; Miriam is not center stage at all times. I'm not certain that the complete story could be told entirely from her POV, but the book suffers from the diversity. I understand that Stross was trying to make us feel bad for poor Miriam, but at times I was screaming for her to act in defense of herself. I was emotionally distraught over her treatment, and while that goes a long way in complimenting Mr. Stross's characterization skills, that's little comfort while reading the book.

There is a superb ending, a great shake-up of the status quo, but it feels like too little, too late. I wonder if The Clan Corporate was also intended to be the first half of a single volume, like The Family Trade. If so, it would make more sense. We are left stuck out on a tenuous branch, and it will be months before we find out if we'll make it back to the tree and climb down, or simply fall to our doom. I suppose it's an opinion thing, but I do not like my novels to end in such a manner, serialized or no.

The Clan Corporate was not a bad book, indeed it succeeded on many levels, including advancing the plot and making readers feel for their heroine. However, I wanted more. I expected more. I anxiously await the next installment.


Collector's Notes:

This series is well worth picking up, indeed every Charles Stross book is. However, if you've not read this series yet, I would suggest purchasing the books now, but waiting until the next book is released to begin your reading. This ending is bloody torturous.

Charles Stross will be numbered amongst the all time science fiction greats. Buying his books in first edition hardcovers is a no-brainer. Someday in the not-too-distant future when people speak of him with Heinlein, Asimov, and Zelazny, you'll be thanking me.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell is a mainstay of horror fiction, a true living grandmaster. His bibliography is nigh absurd, with scores of novels and collections, and his short fiction has appeared in over 100 magazines and anthologies. He's never approached the sales of peers Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker, but his body of work is undeniably superior to the big three.

His latest novel, The Overnight, tells the story of a newly opened chain book store where not all is as it seems. The recently constructed shopping center of which it is an anchor seems to have been built on marshlands, as nightly it fills with a smothering fog eerily reminiscent of Jack The Ripper's London. To complete corporate demands, the store manager has required that all employees must be attendant for an overnight inventory.

Eery events lead up to the dreaded all-nighter, and some staff members have already befallen dubious accidents. Books are curiously misplaced, tempers are inflamed, and personalities sour as the eventful night approaches, and strange stories of the landscapes past are revealed. The overnight may spell the end of the bookstore, and the doom of the staff.

Now a book about a book store is something I can get into. A rabid bibliophile, books with plenty of references to other books are inherently pleasing. Unfortunately every book mentioned is a fictional imagining of Campbell's, and the inner workings and politics of the book store are the bones of this tale.

Inordinately ominous and suitably terrifying, The Overnight is a throwback horror novel replete with fear of the unknown and plenty of chilling hints of the macabre. The first half of the book is a veritable how-to of horror writing, which unfortunately falls flat in the end with too much gore and too much show -- really lacking the fear of the unknown that marks the first half as a prodigiously horrific.

The Overnight is a very good horror novel that falls just short of greatness in the end. If the premise sounds fascinating, then it's certainly a book you should consider.


Collector's Notes:

Horror novels by masters are always collectible, and The Overnight featured a limited numbered edition from PS Publishing. There were 500 copies of the limited edition created, with 200 of them being a slipcased deluxe edition. The limited edition sells for 50 dollars and the deluxe edition for around 90 dollars -- prices that are sure to inflate when it sells out.

Friday, May 26, 2006

In The Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips

In the Palace of Repose is the debut collection from fantasist Holly Phillips. This collection has garnered a signifigant amount of critical acclaim, and has amassed more than a few fans and proponents amongst the internet review circles.

Here is a differing opinion.

Using a surrealist style, more Marquez than Wolfe, Phillips paints with vagaries. Her vocabulary is eloquent, her sentence structure flawless, and her settings are vividly stirring. However, the worlds felt uninhabited, the stories impotent, and at the end of each entry, I was left grasping for substance.

Like a flawless painting that fails to move, Phillips collection is lovely and fruitless. This book is a tangible embodiment of the style over substance fallacy.

Phillips is a wonderful writer, but I just didn't care. If you have the ability to appreciate delectable prose without asking for much in the manner of a payoff, this is probably something you should check out.


Collector's Notes:

It's a nice collection for what it is, and probably a small print run from Prime Books. However, my gut feeling is that you'll be able to find this book for at or below cover price 20 years from now. There's certainly no mass appeal.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Counting Heads by David Marusek

Counting Heads is a startling debut novel from noteworthy short fiction writer, David Marusek. It is something of a continuation from a previous short story of his, We Were Out of Our Minds With Joy, and this short provides the first chapter.

Just over 100 years in our future, nanotechnology has changed human life as we know it. The economy is in ruins due to this technology's ability to produce any product one might want out of any substance, and the only market is for patented luxury items. Aging has been halted and overpopulation forces the worldwide government to severely restrict all human birth.

The story begins with Samson (an artist) meeting and falling in love with Eleanor (an upwardly mobile government agent). After their public event of a wedding, Eleanor is given a major promotion and the couple are given a permit to produce a child. The fetus awaits them in a jar in New Jersey, in fact.

As if to contravene their improbable good fortune, soon after the birth of their daughter, a random nanotech sweep finds erroneous signs of terrorist technology in Samson's personal AI assistant. (which of course resides in his body) Samson is taken into custody, and he is molecularly 'seared' to rid him of any nanotech. From then on, Samson becomes mortal -- nanotech fixes will not work on the seared. His marriage ends; as it must for a mortal married to an immortal. This is all covered in the original short, and from there the longer tale of mother and daughter, a lost father and loneliness, and the morality of sentient clones begins.

Counting Heads is dense. There are 3-4 new technologies or scientific ideas per page, and it's easy to be overcome at times. With that, though, comes a frightfully fierce sense of wonder and immersion. The story is fast paced and it's a quick read, but the font is small, and so what appears to be a short book truly is not.

Marusek has written a work of hard science fiction, and it's a wonderful debut novel. A bit uneven at times -- there are a few scenes that drag -- it still numbers as the best nanotech SF story I've ever read.


Collector's Notes:

It's the first novel from a talented writer. A no-brainer to pick up.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Blood Knight By Greg Keyes

Greg Keyes began The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone to much acclaim in 2002 with The Briar King. In 2004, he continued his epic with The Charnel Prince, and won over many fans with his character driven plots and high adventure. This series has shown signs of being one of the finest epic fantasies being woven in recent years, and Keyes' latest, The Blood Knight, fulfills the promise of the earlier work while improving the formula and delivering his best novel yet.

The initial premise is still ingenious: the survivors of the lost colony of Roanoke are somehow spirited off to a fantasy world where they become slaves to a demon race. Under the leadership of the first European child born in the Americas, Virginia Dare, the humans throw off the reigns of their infernal masters and form human societies.

But the power used to dethrone the demonic Skasloi has a price, and hundreds of years later, in The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, the price is finally catching up with humanity.

The Blood Knight begins with us thrust right back into the action. Since we've last seen our heroes, Princess Dare has been kidnapped by mysteriously blessed monks, and somehow her friends must rescue her and march to Eslen and retake her throne from her undead uncle, Prince Robert. Cazio the duelist faces manhood without his mentor, Sir Neil leads knights in a suicidal charge against an overwhelming force, and Leoffrey learns to rue the day he crossed Prince Robert and Praifec Hespero. Stephen Dandridge comes into his appalling birthright, Aspar White must brave a different sort of forest, and the dying world gives birth to a new sort of monster -- a Waurm. (flightless dragon)

Earlier comparisons to George R.R. Martin's magnum opus, A Song of Ice and Fire are proven well-founded in this third volume. Replete with rousing battle, astonishing heroics, shocking deaths, and even more stupefying revelations, The Blood Knight is to The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone what A Storm of Swords is to A Song of Ice and Fire.

The Blood Knight is the best novel yet from a fine novelist, and the best epic fantasy of the year thus far. If you've not given this series a shot yet, you owe it to yourself to go pick up The Briar King and The Charnel Prince, and get cracking before The Blood Knight is released in July.


Collector's Notes:

With the quality continuing to improve, it's only a matter of time before the first edition prices of this series begin to rise exponentially. Be sure to put away a first edition, and beat the rush by getting your hands on first editions of The Briar King and The Charnel Prince as soon as possible.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite

The term exquisite corpse comes from a Surrealist technique of collaborators writing a sentence/poem/story in a set sequence. Each confederate is only allowed to see the ending of what the previous author wrote. Later on, this technique was applied to paintings, drawings, and collage. Together the collaborators create a work that oftentimes is strange and gruesome.

Poppy Z. Brite has done just that with Exquisite Corpse, her novel. It is an interwoven tale of two serial killers from two different worlds. Andrew Compton is a refined Englishman and a mass murderer of boys. Jay Byrne is a wealthy resident of the famed French Quarter in New Orleans, and a cannibal who lures homeless teenagers into his house for photograph sessions and then proceeds to kill and eat them. The two meet fortuitously in New Orleans after Compton escapes prison, and proceed to swap 'recipes' of murder, cannibalism, and necrophilia.

Incredibly disturbing, Exquisite Corpse still fails to let us see convincingly through a serial killers eyes. There is too much gore, and too little pathology. Such studies have been accomplished signifigantly better by Iain Banks in the Wasp Factory and by Bret Easton Ellis in American Psycho.

That's not to say Exquisite Corpse is without merit; the setting is sweaty and livid, and the secondary characters shine, though the killers do not. If you don't mind a little nausea, vivid descriptions of horrific unnatural acts, and wish to visit a Big Easy far darker than that of Anne Rice, Exquisite Corpse is worth the ride. But don't say I didn't warn you.


Collector's Notes:

Poppy Z. Brite is a somewhat collectible author, a first edition hardcover of Exquisite Corpse (Simon & Shuster, 1996) is worth 50-60 dollars American. Some of her other titles have had limited editions made by Subterranean Press and Gauntlet Press, which are probably more collectible. I imagine that a limited edition of Exquisite Corpse is not that far off.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Ultimate Speculative Fiction Reading List

You read that correctly.

I have endeavored to create the reading list to end all reading lists. I have included classics from Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, as well as other important works that changed the ways in which the genre is viewed and published.

Even clocking in at a whopping 600+ titles, it's nowhere near a complete listing. To help navigate the list, I have labelled which genre each book fits the best into (or multiple listings), including Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Children's Books. I have also labelled each novel for quality using one to four stars. I believe that each four star book is of the highest quality, and should be read by all fans of the speculative fiction. To also aid in the navigation of this monstrosity, I have listed what series each belongs in -- if applicable -- and listed any awards it has recieved.

Resources used include Jeff VanderMeer's exhaustive fantasy list, James Gunn's Basic SF Library, The SFWA's reccomended reading lists (with special attention to Gardner Dozois' list), David Pringle's 100 Best lists, Stephen Jones & Kim Newman's 100 best lists, The Locus online awards index, Jay Tomio,, my own personal reading experience, and literally hundreds of opinions from friends and acquaintances from either the internet or conventions.

The list is in Excel format.

Download The Ultimate Speculative Fiction Reading List

Monday, May 15, 2006

Publisher Spotlight: Dabel Brothers Productions

Launched in 2002 as Roaring Studios, a studio of Image Comics, DBPro is the first comic book studio to develop a line of comics based solely upon proven fantasy world developed by best-selling authors.

DBPro has moved through a few different publishers and has finally developed a certain autonomy, publishing their own work. Their signature comics series thus far has been the wonderfully rendered world of George R.R. Martin's Westeros in The Hedge Knight, but their goals are lofty and their projects are many.

The Hedge Knight is available in trade paperback format soon to be in its third edition, and tells the story of Ser Duncan the Tall, a prequel of sorts to A Song of Ice and Fire. It's a short story that previously appeared in the Legends anthology, and is lavishly drawn by Mike S. Miller and adapted by Ben Avery. The second tale of Ser Dunk, The Sworn Sword, first appearing in Legends II, is currently in production by DBPro.

Other comics previously produced include The New Spring from Robert Jordan, Dragonlance: The Legend of Huma, Raymond Feist's The Wood Boy, and Tad Williams' The Burning Man. (These last two are available in a single trade paperback edition)

DBPro has even more exciting renditions slated for the future, such as Raymond Feist's fantasy classic Magician, whose first issue is now available. I've read this first issue, and I was immediately immersed in a fantasy playground of my youth; shoved right back into the adventures of Pug and Tomas. Wonderful fun.

Another title in the works is a rendition of the first novel of Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series, The Red Prophet. I'm a fan of Card's science fiction, but had never read his fantasy before. DBPro's The Red Prophet was fascinating, impelling, and left me wanting more to the point that I went and purchased the first three novels of the Alvin Maker series.

Other future projects include Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, and the story of a new Dungeons & Dragons world, Ptolus by D&D creator Monte Cook.

Developing comics out of proven fantasy titles is an idea that is long overdue. DBPro has painstakingly developed comics (and trade paperback collections of them, for those of us who do not collect comics) of the highest quality, while staying true to the author's orginal vision. Their efforts should be lauded and commended, and thier comics snatched up by fans everywhere.

Book Sale

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Camouflage by Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman is the Hugo and Nebula Award winning author of The Forever War and Forever Peace (which, surprisingly, is not a sequel). There are few science fiction writers alive today that can match his resume, and so it would seem unsurprising that he would win the 2006 Nebula Award for best novel for Camouflage.

But it shocked the hell out of me.

I was certain the award would go to Susanna Clarke for her marvelous Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, already winner of the Hugo and World Fantasy awards. If, by chance, Clarke was not the recipient, I had assumed the next likely candidate would by Air by Geoff Ryman, already the winner of the James Tiptree Jr. and Arthur C. Clarke awards. So it was with more than a little shock that I was made aware of Camouflage's recieving of the award.

Camouflage was an unheralded novel. Somehow it was not even nominated for the Hugo award -- in an admittedly weak year. And so, foolishly, despite my enjoyment in a slew of Haldeman's previous novels, I did not purchase nor read Camouflage.

So after the shock of the Nebula award announcement wore off, I drove to the library to see what the fuss was about.

Camouflage is the story of an alien shapeshifter, the Changeling. He is immortal and spends the majority of human history underwater, learning and searching as an oceanic predator. When he comes upon mankind, in 1931, he changes his shape in human form, the better to learn more about the mysterious creature at the top of the food chain.

Camouflage is also the story of an alien shapeshifter, The Chameleon. He too is immortal, but has lived among mankind since the stone age. He is the source of vampire legend, and a merciless warrior throughout the ages.

This hard-SF novel brings the two together, in a pursuit of understanding, a journey of love and hate, power and the will to survive. It's a powerful novel, and very good, if not Haldeman's best work. Naming the villain 'Halliburton' might have been a bit heavy handed, but was amusing, as were a few jabs at our current President.

It's a quality old fashioned science fiction novel, with plenty of core science and very little campiness. For those who miss such novels, you can't do much better.


Collector's Notes:

This book just won the Nebula Award: now is the time to get your hands on a first edition hardcover before they become too scarce and expensive. I've already ordered mine. Haldeman is a popular author who attends many conventions, and so a signed first edition Nebula Winner would look mighty fine on any collector's shelf. Or Two.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

Michael Marshall Smith writes weird books.

Only Forward is the story of Stark, a man who can get things done. As such, he is employed as a freelancer by the Department of Doing Things Especially Quick, a division of the Action Centre.

He is contracted to find out what happenned to an important executive of the Action Centre, seemingly kidnapped on his way to work. His journey will take us through many varied neighborhoods, each an independent political and social entity, where the neighborhood itself acts to fulfill the wishes of its populace.

Stark lives in Color Neighborhood, which is for people '"heavily into color." The streets and buildings adapt to the people nearby, finding brilliant ways to offset and compliment the bright colors of passersby. His first stop on the journey is to Red Neighborhood, a nest of organized crime, where weapons are readily available, and turf wars smear the streets with carnage. We also find ourselves in Cat Neighborhood; an area reserved for and run by cats. You don't mess with the cats.

Written in the first person, featuring a badass futuristic protaganist in a gritty urban setting, and focussing on a central whodunit mystery, Only Forward is like Altered Carbon on acid.

If this sounds the least bit interesting, I urge you to pick up the Subterranean Press limited hardcover while it's still available from finer booksellers. Smith is a master storyteller, and this is his first novel. At 34 dollars (from clarkesworld), you can purchase the first hardcover release in a signed and numbered deluxe format of this modern classic of science fiction for slightly more than the cost of a new hardcover.


Collector's Notes:

This Subterranean Press edition has sold on eBay and for 50-60 dollars, and so the Clarkesowrld price is a bargain. The lettered state of this release with traycase is unavailable, and could garner signifigantly more if made available. First edition softcovers sell for around 50 dollars.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison

Each time I open a book from an author I've not read before, there is some tiny glimmer of hope that what I am about to read will be magical. Each of us, as readers, can look back upon their childhood and recall those few books whose effect upon us was nigh spiritualistic. For me, it was Madeleine L'Engle and C.S Lewis; Chris Claremonts' X-MEN and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings.

A little bit of why I read speculative fiction, probably more than I'm willing to admit, is an attempt to recreate that sense of wonder; to live for just one more minute in the childhood homes of my heart, Narnia or Terabithia or Middle Earth.

Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison brought me home.

I'd not read Travel Light prior to this morning, but a part of me had lived my entire life there. A little-known classic, it was recently brought back into print by Small Beer Press as a part of their Peapod Classics line. Travel Light tells the story of Halla, a princess raised by bears and dragons, who wanders the world in search of herself. It's surpassingly moving, artfully economic in prose, and is most certainly one of the greatest childrens books I have ever read.

I'm embarassed to admit I'd never heard of it, dismayed that it was not a part of my childhood, and emphatically thankful to Gavin J. Grant and Small Beer Press for reprinting it and bringing it to my attention.

Whether you knew it when you woke up this morning or not, you want to read this book.


Collector's Notes:

Not an overly collectible book by virtue of being a reprint, Travel Light from Small Beer is a title that all fans of fantasy should have in their collection.

A couple of hardcover first editions from Faber and Faber UK, 1952 are available for a reasonable price on

The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes

The Kingoms of Thorn and Bone, the epic fantasy series by Greg Keyes, begins with The Briar King. A rousing adventure in the vein of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, The Briar King sets the stage with characters such as Sir Neil the knight errant, Cazio the honey-tongued duelist, and Aspar White, the kings holter, and a legend in the old forests.

The second in the proposed four book series, The Charnel Prince, further flushes out the plot and draws the major players to a convergence to save the rightful Queen of Crotheny, Princess Anne Dare, from an unspeakable evil.

We are also introduced to Leoff the court composer, who is commissioned to create his masterpiece -- an opera that will stir the souls of the people to rise up against their blackguard Prince.

The Charnel Prince is a slight let-down from The Briar King, as not much seems to happen until the end, but it sets up perfectly the epic quest of the third novel in the series, The Blood Knight.

While Keyes may not be redefining epic fantasy, he succeeds in telling a vastly enjoyable story. Without reservation, I would reccomend The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone to all fans of epic fantasy, and especially for those who are looking for something to tide them over until A Dance With Dragons.


Collector's Notes:

Keyes is becoming more popular by the book, and this series looks to be moderately collectible. At some point first editions of The Briar King will certainly be a worthy investment.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Briar King by Greg Keyes

Called 'Martin Lite' by many fans, Greg Keyes' The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series is certainly among the best epic fantasies currently being written.

This series is based upon the premise that the missing colony of Roanoke, Virginia, the first British colony in the new world founded by Sir Walter Raleigh, has somehow dissapeared to a mythical fantasy world. The first child born in America to English parents, Virginia Dare, is the ancestor and nigh-mythical hero to our protaganists.

To free humankind from slavery to an evil race, Virginia Dare had to make use of unholy sorcery. In so doing, she and her descendants became the victim of an awful curse. In The Briar King, set hundreds of years later, this dreaded curse begins to rear it's ugly head.

The Briar King himself is an obvious nod to Green Man mythology; he wakes to defend his forest from destruction by man. The idea is well developed, and Keyes is even able to add his own twist to the ancient story. His world is meticulously constructed, rich in both history and culture, and with at least five different languages -- which can be a bit overwhelming at times.

The comparisons to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series are apt; there are a slew of different characters whose viewpoints are woven in a manner which tells the complete story. Some of the characters border on stock fantasy archetypes, but they're the type that we can't help but love; the questing knight, the roguish swordsman, and the princess who was prophesied.

While Keyes may not be redefining epic fantasy, he succeeds in telling a vastly enjoyable story. Without reservation, I would reccomend The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone to all fans of epic fantasy, and especially for those who are looking for something to tide them over until A Dance With Dragons.

The third in the series, The Blood Knight, is due out in July 2006, and will be reviewed on this site within the next week.


Collector's Notes:

Keyes is becoming more popular by the book, and this series looks to be moderately collectible. At some point first editions of The Briar King will certainly be a worthy investment.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sleeping Policemen by Dale Bailey and Jack Slay Jr.

Sleeping Policemen by Dale Bailey & Jack Slay Jr. is a three-fold work of art. At first sight, you are treated to a wrap-around painting by the accomplished and masterful John Picacio, who, using his unique and award-winning method, vividly renders a painting that is both lovely and distressing. It becomes increasingly clear that Picacio actually reads the books that he produces cover art for, which is both rare in genre fiction, and quite refreshing.

This novel has been produced by one of the shining stars of small publishing, Golden Gryphon Press. I was first made aware of this publisher from buzz surrounding such titles as The Fantasy Writer's Assistant by Jeffrey Ford, Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer, and The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, and in each subsequent reading, my esteem has grown for them, not only as publishers of cutting edge speculative fiction, but as the finest in book makers as well. Each volume is solidly crafted, the bindings are sturdily sewn, and the alkaline paper used ensures a long-lasting treasure. The proof is in the reading, and I submit that each title I own from Golden Gryphon retains the look of a new book, even after multiple readings.

Sleeping Policemen begins with three friends driving home through the Smoky Mountains from a night at a strip club, when they hit a man. Upon stopping and returning to the scene of the accident, they find that the man is dead, and full of secrets; a loaded gun, a roll of hundred dollar bills, and a key. Instead of calling the police, they decide to hide the body and hope for the best. What follows is a non-stop ride down hells chasm, a lightning paced plot that leads to revolting secrets and inconcievable violence.

I'm no scholar of crime fiction; I've read only a few books and seen all the commonplace movies. However, like Joseph Conrad's masterpiece, Heart of Darkness (which it cites), Sleeping Policemen conjures all the horror that exists in the heart of men, and works quite well as a horror novel. What makes it so very terrifying is the very possible and believable premise, and the hint of all the true-life horror that bubbles just beneath the surface of our unsuspecting daily lives.

I read Sleeping Policemen in a single sitting. It was so disturbing that I'm not all that certain that enjoyed it in any conventional manner, but I was engrossed, hooked, and I could not put it down until it was complete. This novel is not for the squeemish; yet if crime thrillers with a healthy sprinkling of horror seem inviting, you should not miss this limited-time-only journey into the nether.


Collector's Notes:

Each and every book from Golden Gryphon Press is a limited print run, and as such, every book is collectible. Just how collectible is deemed by a works popularity and the ensuing popularity of the author(s).

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford

There's a blurb on the cover of The Last Hot Time from fantasy stalwart Robert Jordan that states "John M. Ford is the best writer in America, bar none." Hyperbolic nonsense I assumed. After all, John M. Ford happens to be the map maker for Jordan, and I assumed that this was a sort of thank-you for those wonderous maps.

Boy, was I wrong.

An argument can be made, of course, that Ford is not the best writer in America. However, I believe an honest debate can not be had without at least mentioning him. That's how good he is. That's how good The Last Hot Time is.

Danny Holman is running away from home. In the darkest of night, on a lonesome highway leading to Chicago, he is passed by a mysterious black car that appears to be driven by an elf who flashes Danny the peace sign. He then notices yet another car, blood red, approaching at high speed. It passes Danny and comes alongside the first car, and a burst of gunfire erupts from the red car. The first car drives off the road and stops.

Being a paramedic, Holman stops immediately, grabs his medical bag and sprints to the black car. A woman in the back seat has been shot, and despite initial misgivings by the car's other occupants, he is allowed to save the woman's life.

And so begins Danny's life as Doc Hollownight, physician for Mr. Patrice; a crime boss in a section of Chicago known as the Levee, in which the land of Faery overlaps our own, and Elven magic holds sway.

A sort of The Godfather meets The King of Elfland's Daughter, The Last Hot Time is an urban fantasy fashioned by characterization and style. Each player has depth and history that is only hinted at. It's embarassingly immersing, frightfully gratifying, and I can't reccomend it highly enough.

We want a sequel, Mr. Ford. We demand it. We plead for it.


Collector's Notes:

This book was released in hardcover in 2000 from Tor Books. My understanding is that it did not sell very well, and thus the first edition isn't very valuable. (it was remaindered) There is no justice in the world.

However, any John M. Ford novel is a worthwhile investment, if only for reading. I would also reccomend 1984 World Fantasy Award winner, The Dragon Waiting, which is somewhat collectible. A US First Edition, Timescape 1983 will sell for 50-75 dollars.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Collector's Spotlight: George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin of A Song of Ice and Fire fame has been writing stories all of his life. I'd be at this for months if I were to track down each and every short story, and so this spotlight will focus only his novels, collections, and edited-by books. (which is no small task in itself)

Referred to as the American Tolkien by Time Magazine and boasting the greatest fans in the world, A Song of Ice and Fire is Mr. Martin's shining epic; the highpoint of an illustrious career.

The first novel in the series, A Game of Thrones, is perhaps one of the most interesting books in recent SF history to collect -- there are literally 19 different english language editions. The UK Advanced Reader's Copy (pictured at top left) is considered the holy grail of Martin collectibles, though other editions can cost a pretty penny as well.

*Note on Pricing: All prices are listed as a suggested price, (Books are worth what they sell for. Could be more, could be signifigantly less.) referring to a book in Fine condition, and in American dollars.

A Game of Thrones:
-UK ARC, Voyager *incredibly rare*-- 1000-1700 dollars
-UK Preview (99 pages), Voyager -- 40 dollars
-UK First Edition HC, Voyager *rare* -- 800-1500 dollars
-UK Book Club Edition (8 inches in height, not priced on dust jacket) -- 30 dollars
-UK First Edition paperback -- 25 dollars
-UK Second Edition paperback - 10 dollars
-US ARC, Bantam *rare* -- 200-400 dollars
-US First Edition HC, Bantam (silver foil cover) -- 150-300 dollars
-US First Edition Softcover preview (not for sale) -- 150 dollars
-US Second Edition HC, Bantam -- 40-50 dollars
-US Third Edition HC, Bantam -- 25 dollars
-US Book Club Edition (8 inches tall, without foil)- 10 dollars
-US First Edition Trade Paperback - 20 dollars
-US Second Edition Trade Paperback - 15 dollars
-US First Edition paperback - 25 dollars
-US Second Edition Paperback - 10 dollars
-US Third Edition paperback - 8 dollars
-Meisha Merlin Signed and Numbered edition - 500-800 dollars
-Meisha Merlin Signed and Lettered edition - 800-1200 dollars

Here are a few of these editions:

From here on out, I won't talk about paperbacks, except where they were original first editions.

A Clash of Kings is the second book in the series, and thankfully does not have so many editions as its predecessor.

A Clash of Kings:
-UK First Edition hardcover, Voyager -- 300-500 dollars
-US ARC, Bantam *rare* -- 200-300 dollars
-US First Edition hardcover, Bantam - 100-125 dollars
-US Second Edition hardcover, Bantam - 25 dollars
-Meisha Merlin Signed and Numbered edition - 300-400 dollars
-Meisha Merlin Signed and Lettered edition - 500-700 dollars

A Storm of Swords:
-UK First Edition hardcover, Voyager -- 80-100 dollars
-US ARC, Bantam *rare* -- 100-200 dollars
-US First Edition hardcover, Bantam -- 60-80 dollars
-US Second Edition hardcover, Bantam -- 25 dollars
-Subterranean Press Signed and Numbered edition (not yet released) -- 260 dollars
-Subterranean Press Signed and Lettered edition (not yet released) -- Sold Out

A Feast For Crows:
-UK First Edition hardcover, Voyager -- 35 dollars
-UK First Edition hardcover slipcased, signed and numbered, Voyager edition (1000 copies) -- 80-100 dollars
-UK First Edition hardcover slipcased, signed and numbered, Voyager International edition (300 copies) -- 200-250 dollars
-US Preview (Daenerys) -- 20 dollars
-US Preview (Captain of the Guard) -- 20 dollars
-US ARC, Bantam -- 100 dollars
-US First Edition hardcover -- 30 dollars

*Subterranean Editions planned

Other Related A Song of Ice and Fire Books:


-Legends: UK First Edition hardcover (includes The Hedge Knight short) - 100 dollars
-Legends: US ARC (includes The Hedge Knight short) - 150 dollars
-Legends: US First Edition hardcover (includes The Hedge Knight short) - 80 dollars
-Legends: US First Edition signed and limited leather edition *incredibly rare* (includes The Hedge Knight short) -- 2000 dollars (So rare I can't find a picture. Due to the collectability of Stephen King, this one may be the rarest of all Martin's works.)
-Legends II: UK First Edition hardcover (includes The Sworn Sword short) - 60 dollars
-Legends II: US First Edition hardcover (includes The Sworn Sword short) - 40 dollars
-Legends II: US First Edition signed and limited leather edition (includes The Sworn Sword short) -- 200 dollars

The Hedge Knight Comic from Dabel Brothers Pro and artist Mike S. Miller:
-Issue 1 Convention Special -- 25 dollars
-Issue 1A -- 10 dollars
-Issue 1B -- 10 dollars
-Issue 1C (Hildebrandt Art) -- 20 dollars
-Issue 2A -- 6 dollars
-Issue 2B (Vallejo and Bell Art) -- 12 dollars
-Issue 3A -- 6 dollars
-Issue 3B -- 12 dollars
-Issue 4A -- 6 dollars
-Issue 4B -- 12 dollars
-Issue 5A -- 6 dollars
-Issue 5B -- 12 dollars
-Issue 6A -- 6 dollars
-Issue 6B -- 12 dollars
-Collected Trade Paperback First Edition -- 20 dollars
-Collected Trade Paperback Second Edition -- 15 dollars
-Collected Trade Paperback Third Edition -- Not Yet Released


-The Art of Ice and Fire, Fantasy Flight Games -- 30 dollars
-The Art of Ice and Fire Collector's Edition -- 150-200 dollars
-A Game of Thrones RPG Resource Book -- 50 dollars
-A Game of Thrones Deluxe Numbered RPG Resource Book -- 100 dollars
-Quartet, NESFA Press trade paperback (features Blood of the Dragon short) -- 15 dollars
-Quartet, NESFA Press trade hardcover (features Blood of the Dragon short) -- 75 dollars
-Quartet, NESFA Press slipcased signed and numbered edition (features Blood of the Dragon short) -- 100-150 dollars


Dying of The Light:
-UK First edition hardcover, Gollancz 1978 -- 60-80 dollars
-US First edition hardcover, Simon and Shuster 1977 -- 100-150 dollars

Windhaven (w/ Lisa Tuttle) :
-US First Edition hardcover, Timescape 1981 -- 50 dollars
-US Second Edition hardcover, Bantam 2001 -- 25 dollars

Fevre Dream:
-US First Edition hardcover, Poseidon 1982 -- 80-100 dollars
-UK First Edition hardcover, Gollancz 1983 -- 80-100 dollars
-Subterranean Press limited numbered edition -- 125 dollars (not yet published)
-Subterranean Press limited lettered edition -- 300 dollars (not yet published)

The Armageddon Rag:
-US First Edition hardcover, Simon & Shuster 1983 -- 50 dollars
-Poseidon Nemo limited numbered edition -- 100-150 dollars
-Poseidon Nemo limited lettered edition -- 200-300 dollars

Tuf Voyaging:
-US First Edition hardcover - Baen 1986 -- 50 dollars
-UK First Edition hardcover, Gollancz 1987 -- 40 dollars
-Meisha Merlin trade hardcover -- 30 dollars
-Meisha Merlin limited numbered edition -- 125 dollars
-Meisha Merlin limited lettered edition -- 175 dollars
Shadow Twin (W/ Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham) :
-Subterranean Press numbered edition -- 40 dollars
-Subterranean Press lettered edition -- 100 dollars

The Pear-Shaped Man:
-Pulphouse Paperback #37 -- 10 dollars
-Short Story Hardback #24, limited signed leather -- 150-200 dollars


A Song For Lya:
-US First Edition paperback, Avon 1976 -- 30 dollars

Songs of Stars and Shadows:
-US First Edition paperback, Pocket Books 1977 - 50 dollars

-US First Edition hardcover, Book Club Edition 1981-- 50 dollars
-US First Edition softcover, Pocket Books, 1981 -- 50 dollars

-Binary Star #5 Nightflyers and True Names by Vernor Vinge -- 50 dollars

Portraits of His Children:
-Dark Harvest trade hardcover 1987 -- 30 dollars
-Dark Harvest numbered edition -- 60-100 dollars
-Dark Harvest lettered edition in wooden slipcase -- 125-300 dollars

Songs The Dead Men Sing:
-US First edition hardcover, Dark Harvest numbered edition 1983 -- 200-400 dollars
-UK First edition hardcover, Gollancz 1985 -- 75-100 dollars

-Quartet, NESFA Press trade paperback -- 15 dollars
-Quartet, NESFA Press trade hardcover -- 75 dollars
-Quartet, NESFA Press slipcased signed and numbered edition -- 100-150 dollars

GRRM: A Rretrospective:
-Subterranean Press trade hardcover -- 100-150 dollars (second printings available here)
-Subterranean Press numbered hardcover -- 195 dollars (still on sale here)
-Subterranean Press lettered hardcover in traycase -- 400 dollars

Wild Cards:

Wild Cards I:
-US First Edition hardcover, Book Club edition -- 30 dollars
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam - 10 dollars

Wild Cards II: Aces High:
-US First Edition hardcover, Book Club edition -- 20 dollars
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards III: Jokers Wild:
-US First Edition hardcover, Book Club edition -- 20 dollars
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad:
-US First Edition hardcover, Book Club edition -- 20 dollars
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards V: Down and Dirty:
-US First Edition hardcover, Book Club edition -- 20 dollars
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards VI: Ace in The Hole:
-US First Edition hardcover, Book Club edition -- 20 dollars
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards VII: Dead Man's Hand:
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards VIII: One-Eyed Jacks:
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards IX: Jokertown Shuffle:
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards X: Double Solitaire:
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards XI: Dealer's Choice:
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards XII: Turn of The Cards:
-US First Edition softcover, Bantam -- 10 dollars

Wild Cards New Cycle I: Card Sharks:
-US First Edition softcover, Baen -- 8 dollars

Wild Cards New Cycle II: Marked Cards:
-US First Edition softcover, Baen -- 8 dollars

Wild Cards New Cycle III: Black Trump:
-US First Edition softcover, Baen -- 8 dollars

Wild Cards: Deuces Down:
-US First Edition hardcover, iBooks -- 20 dollars

Wild Card Comics from Epic Comics (an imprint of Marvel):
-Issue 1 -- 9 dollars
-Issue 2 -- 9 dollars
-Issue 3 -- 9 dollars
-Issue 4 -- 9 dollars
-Collected Trade Paperback -- 18 dollars
-New Voices I, First Edition hardcover, MacMillan -- 40-50 dollars
-New Voices II, First Edition softcover, Jove -- 15 dollars
-New Voices III, First Edition softcover, Berkeley -- 10 dollars
-New Voices IV, First Edition softcover, Berkeley -- 1o dollars
-New Voices V, First Edition softcover, Berkeley -- 10 dollars
-Night Visions, UK First edition hardcover, Century -- 75-100 dollars
-Night Visions 3, US First Edition hardcover, Dark Harvest -- 75-100 dollars
-Night Visions 3, signed and numbered edition, Dark Harvest -- 150-250 dollars
-Night Visions 5, US First Edition hardcover, Dark Harvest -- 75-100 dollars
-Night Visions 5, signed and numbered edition, Dark Harvest -- 300-400 dollars
-Legends: UK First Edition hardcover (includes The Hedge Knight short) - 100 dollars
-Legends: US ARC (includes The Hedge Knight short) - 150 dollars
-Legends: US First Edition hardcover (includes The Hedge Knight short) - 80 dollars
-Legends: US First Edition signed and limited leather edition *incredibly rare* (includes The Hedge Knight short) -- 2000 dollars (So rare I can't find a picture. Due to the collectability of Stephen King, this one may be the rarest of all Martin's works.)
-Legends II: UK First Edition hardcover (includes The Sworn Sword short) - 60 dollars
-Legends II: US First Edition hardcover (includes The Sworn Sword short) - 40 dollars
-Legends II: US First Edition signed and limited leather edition (includes The Sworn Sword short) -- 200 dollars
-The Science Fiction Weight Loss Book, First Edition hardcover, Crown -- 25-30 dollars
-A Century of Fantasy: 1980-1989, First Edition hardcover, MJF Books -- 20 dollars
-Otherworks w/ Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb) and Raymond E. Feist, UK Book Club -- -20 dollar
-Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Century, FE hardcover -- 25 dollars

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan

Black Juice is a short story collection which introduces the western world to Australian author Margo Lanagan. She has a startling imagination and shares it in a unique and often mesmerizing manner.

I had first heard of Lanagan during a panel at World Fantasy Convention 2005 in Madison, WI. Kelly Link (a grand short story writer in her own right) and Graham Joyce (one of the best authors writing in speculative fiction today) were extolling its virtues to any and all who would listen.

In the intervening time, Lanagan has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards for her lead short story in the collection, Singing My Sister Down.

Singing My Sister Down is the story of a girl who is sentenced to death for killing her husband. The punishment is enacted by her standing in the middle of a tar pit and waiting until she sinks. The story is told from the perspective of her younger brother, as he and their entire family watch their loved one sink into oblivion. It's heartwrenching and incredibly strange. With this story, Lanagan sets the stage for a collection filled with stories with an almost dreamlike murk enshrouding them.

Sweet Pippit is told from the point of view of a group of elephants out to rescue their handler, slated for execution. Another story, Red Nose Day, allows us into the mind of snipers out to rid the world of the evil that is child molesting clowns. Each of these 10 stories are a unique slice of fabulism unlike anything you've read before. Sometimes it borders upon too strange, but the stories never become boring, and each is short enough so that you can soon go on to the next.

Though she has a number of books released in Australia, this is Margo Lanagan's first release in North America. A companion collection, White Time, has been anounced for US release in July.

Singing My Sister Down is my choice for best short story in this years Hugo Awards, and even if you do not purchase this collection, reading that particular short should be a priority.


Collector's Notes:

The original first edition of this work was published in Australia by Allen and Unwin in 2004 as a trade paperback original. This first is worth 80-100 dollars. The first printing of the American hardcover published by HarperCollins/EOS was a small print run, and is worth about 50 dollars.

This book has already become a cult classic, mostly due to Singing My Sister Down. As soon as it wins the Hugo and the Nebula -- which it most likely will -- the value will probably double, especially for these rare editions.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Preacher by Garth Ennis

'Preacher is more fun than going to the movies.' -Kevin Smith

Preacher is a comic book. It is a form of storytelling that is looked down upon by some critics, but there is more substance in this graphic novel than in many award winning 'literary' novels. The sum of its parts add up to a single story; a story that can and does stand amongst the very best speculative fiction has to offer. This isn't you father's Archie Comics.

Garth Ennis was the writer, and his work on Preacher led to cult popularity among comics fandom. Together with interior artist Steve Dillon and cover artist Glenn Fabry, he weaves the tale of Jesse Custer, a reluctant Preacher who is possessed with a mindless entity named Genesis that has all the power of God.

The story begins with Jesse meeting up in Texas with an old fling Tulip, a onetime hitwoman, and Cassidy, an alcoholic Irish Vampire. They're being chased by the Saint of Killers, loosed upon them by Angels wanting the power of Genesis returned to them. To add to this problem, Jese is also being chased by his conniving Grandmother and her hardhearted redneck flunkies. They get into a slew of unlikely adventures featuring vampire cults, inbreeding, a man with a face that looks like an arse, and an international organization that holds the secret that Jesus Christ had children. (A decade or so before this DaVinci Code nonsense.)

Their travels are also the story of love and friendship, and trying to be a man in a world gone to shit. I often joke with some friends that all you need to know about being a man, you can learn from John Wayne movies. Ennis takes this one step farther and writes a downright insane Western-Horror-Thriller-Romance-Friendship tale that can reasonably act as a 'How To' of manhood. Preacher is meaningful to me, and can touch just about anyone that gives it a chance.

We can only hope that Garth Ennis, like Neil Gaiman before him, makes the trek from writing the best in comics to writing some of the best in speculative fiction novels.

Preacher is available in nine trade paperback collections.

Preacher Vol 1: Gone To Texas - 9/10
Preacher Vol 2: Until The End of The World - 9/10

Preacher Vol 3: Proud Americans - 9/10
Preacher Vol 4: Ancient History - 8/10
Preacher Vol 5: Dixie Fried - 8/10
Preacher Vol 6: War in the Sun - 8/10

Preacher Vol 7: Salvation - 8.5/10
Preacher Vol 8: All Hell's A-Coming 9/10
Preacher Vol 9: Alamo 9/10

Collector's Notes:

Preacher was originally published as a comic book series spanning 66 issues. A complete price guide for the individual issues can be found here. Each individual comic is the true first edition, and so these issues are where the value is.

Each trade paperback can be purchased on Amazon for less than cover price. Such trade paperbacks usually will not go up in value much, unless they are signed by one of the creators. A complete set signed by all three of the creators is probably worth 300-400 dollars.

The complete story in new trade paperback format will cost you just over 100 dollars on Amazon, and while it's no great investment for collectability, it's the cheapest way in which to read this revolutionary story.