November 30, 2010

Inaugural Blog Tour: Aurorarama


A steam punk North Pole unites all the bloggers on this leg of the blog tour.

More and more, we find ourselves in awe of the quality, depth and variety of places on the internet talking about books. Thus, we’ve decided to take a year-end look at how those places talked about our titles. (Read the kickoff.) The point is to highlight not only the titles we proudly published in 2010, but also some of the great writing about those titles from around the internet. In some cases the writing may only mention our book. In these instances the posts would of course have to be extraordinary.

It’s 1908 and you’re about to arrive in New Venice, aka the “pearl of the Arctic.” You’ve heard the rumors. Civil unrest. Emergent fascism. Urban legends seemingly come to life. An ominous black airship hovers above the city with unsettling, if unclear, intentions.

The polar bears just might be the least of your worries.

This is the world of Jean-Christophe Valtat‘s Aurorarama. New Venice is a fully realized side-realm, part alternative history and part steampunk fantasy, written in English by a native French speaker. Add to this the fact that it is the beginning of a series of novels set in this alternative North Pole and you’ll start to understand why it’s such a curiosity. An immensely entertaining curiosity.

At least, such are the sentiments we found across the interwebs. Between its curiosity-piquing content and stunning jacket art, Valtat’s steam punk epic has found a home among many satisfied bloggers (not to mention the occasional musician), some of them blogging about the mere scheduling of their reading the evocative book.

That’s the case with the manic, er, multiple perspectives found on the richly appointed blog, The Widow & The Bride. The Bride’s fancy was caught by this haunting book trailer, which naturally reminded her of the rightfully morbid Widow.

For some reason it reminds me of your odd taste in YouTube videos. Particularly your last horse/circus/creepy one.

Shall we read this throughout the impending Vermont winter? When the snow and sky are closing in? I think we shall.

Blogs of course excel at this latter type of book coverage and commentary in a way no other format can. Simple, off-the-cuff observations about a book’s jacket art or trailer are spun into the creation of an ideal reading situation. It’s the notion of talking about what we’d like to read, not necessarily what we’ve already read. In any case, the Vermont winter is just the place and time to read Aurorarama. Hopefully the Widow or the Bride (both perhaps) will get back to us after this Winter’s labor.

Speaking of blogging about a book but also not blogging about a book, here’s a perfect example over at Confessions From Suite 500. Dig those steampunk threads.

As mentioned before, Aurorarama has the somewhat unique nature of being written in English by a Frenchman. Impressive, no doubt, but doubly so when you begin to understand the scope of Valtat’s impressive English-language vocabulary. MobyLives ran a series on the difficulties involved in editing someone with a vocabulary as impressive as Valtat’s. This series, titled “The Copy-Editor’s Dilemma” in turn received responses from blogs. The very professional blog of Open Letters Monthly, named Like Fire, was the most noteworthy response to the copy-editor’s series. Like Fire smugly points out the nature of our initial series, namely being mostly about publicity but sheds the curmudgeonly mantle to also point out the sincerely interesting subject. So in full disclosure, we’re about to publicize a blog that publicized our blog’s publicity for a book:

And from a strictly practical blogger’s perspective, I like the way Mobylives has seduced the right audience in the right way, with vocabulary and ambience well played. The series may be finished, but it’s fun reading nonetheless, and you’ll end up with some good new words that just might come in handy.

Before things get too out-of-control on the tour we’d like to close with by reminding some, and showing others for the first time, a real treat. The New Venice News, the official (well, at least the best) newspaper of New Venice. With articles written by Poletzer (see how I did that?) Prize winning journalist John Blank, this is the only way you can keep up with the intrigues surrounding New Venice.

At least until Aurorarama‘s sequel, that is.

Paul Oliver is the marketing manager of Melville House. Previously he was co-owner of Wolfgang Books in Philadelphia.