Mark Z Danielweski: House of Leaves

House of Leaves, is more or less, a purported transcription by a guy named Johnny Truant of a manuscript he finds in a dead man’s apartment. He gradually becomes convinced the work of transcribing it is causing a malevolent supernatural presence to manifest in his life. Truant is nothing if not an unreliable narrator. HeContinue reading “Mark Z Danielweski: House of Leaves”

Rachel Lynn Brody (ed.): Hot Mess – Speculative Fiction About Climate Change

The handful of stories in Brody’s collection clearly have an agenda of raising consciousness of and concern about the implications of climate change. Socially or politically motivated art is tricky: it can succeed in communicating its objectives without necessarily exhibiting the general hallmarks of literary merit. In literary terms, I found Hot Mess a mixedContinue reading “Rachel Lynn Brody (ed.): Hot Mess – Speculative Fiction About Climate Change”

Robert Jeschonek: Heaven Bent

Heaven Bent was published as a weekly serial ebook, a format which intrigued, but ultimately disappointed me. Perhaps I’m being unfair and it was tightly plotted from the get-go. But it felt like it could actually have been written week-by-week, with many plot threads introduced and then discarded, ill-supported twists late in the game, andContinue reading “Robert Jeschonek: Heaven Bent”

Jack Matthews: Hanger Stout, Awake!

Hanger Stout, Awake! arrived to my library hold shelf after I’d lost all recollection of what had called it to my attention. It was written in 1967, and was my first exposure to Jack Matthews. Superficially, it doesn’t seem like my kind of book at all. Clyde Stout, who involuntarily assumes the nickname Hanger, isContinue reading “Jack Matthews: Hanger Stout, Awake!”

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

I struggle with how useful it is for me to comment on popular works. A lot of people obviously love this book. I’m statistically quite unlikely to ever write anything as many people pay attention to, what gives me the right to judge it? But maybe it’s useful for me to explore whether this isContinue reading “Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games”

Janna Levin : How the Universe Got Its Spots

How the Universe Got Its Spots is either the most unusual science book I’ve ever read, or the most science-oriented memoir. I was delighted by both aspects. Levin, a no-nonsense, for-real, theoretical cosmologist grapples with, among other things, the shape of the universe, her acknowledgedly irrational preference for it to be finite, and a relationshipContinue reading “Janna Levin : How the Universe Got Its Spots”

Nancy Farmer : The House of the Scorpion

Nancy Farmer crafts an uncomfortably credible dystopian environment in The House of the Scorpion, mostly with just two speculative elements: viable human cloning (with clones treated as chattel) and an uneasy détente between the U.S. and major drug cartels, with the cartels offered non-interference in exchange for border control assistance. I wanted to not believeContinue reading “Nancy Farmer : The House of the Scorpion”

Steve Hely: How I Became a Famous Novelist

How I Became a Famous Novelist is a tidy, and very funny, example of simultaneous multi-layer cake having/eating. Bitter Pete Tarslaw decides the best way to get back at his ex-girlfriend is to write a chart-topping novel. He inventories the best seller list, discards genre fiction as requiring too much actual work, and decides toContinue reading “Steve Hely: How I Became a Famous Novelist”

Joe Hill: Horns

I started reading Horns with one of those ebook free sample chapters. Hill hooked me with his first four sentences: Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke the next morning with a headache, put his hands to his temples, and felt something unfamiliar, a pair of knobby pointed protuberances.Continue reading “Joe Hill: Horns”

Charles Yu: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

I’ve been mulling over How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe for a couple of weeks now, and frankly, I’m not sure I completely get it. But I enjoyed reading it a lot, and I’ve also enjoyed thinking about the author’s choices, and why I can’t quite make coherent sense of them. AlthoughContinue reading “Charles Yu: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe”