I was recently recommended an interesting collection of short stories by Jeffrey Ford, A Natural History of Hell. I’ve also been asked about short story collections over the winter break, so I thought I’d recommend a few.
A Natural History of Hell – Jeffrey Ford
Release Date: 19/07/2016
Publisher: Small Beer Press
Pages: 256pp RRP: £13.02 (Paperback)
With a title like A Natural History of Hell, it was going to be hard to ignore this book. And I’m glad that I didn’t. This is a collection that can at times prove to be genuinely unsettling, with Ford taking the reader to some sinister places.
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The Terranauts – T.C. Boyle
Release Date: 20/10/2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (UK)
Pages: 508pp RRP: £18.99 (Hardback)
Kindle edition available here (£11.39)
I can remember when I was first introduced to T.C. Boyle’s work. A friend of mine stopped me from reading Jack Kerouac’s ‘The Road’, and handed me a copy of ‘The Tortilla Curtain’, saying ‘Read this instead: it’s more contemporary, you won’t have to suffer beatniks, and you won’t be reading a book because Bob Dylan said it was good.’
Biospheres were a strange quirk in popular science in the early 1990s. Primarily an effort to study closed ecological systems, their viability to support human life, as well as to analyse the interactions between life systems, they fell out of favour not too long after their initial experimental phase. The Terranauts takes one such experiment, Biosphere II in Arizona, as its source material.
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I Hate The Internet – Jarett Kobek
Release Date: 03/11/16
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Pages: 290pp RRP: £12.99 (Hardback)
Kindle edition available here (£6.64)
It’s hard for me to resist a novel that claims to skewer such topics as Silicon Valley, the writing and philosophy of Ayn Rand, the influence of Science Fiction writers, the practices of the comic book industry, ‘elaborately named hippies practicing cruelty on goats’, and death threats on social media. I Hate the Internet does this, and more. It’s also the only novel I’ve ever read that came with a trigger warning in the preface.
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A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers
Release Date: 20/10/2016
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 364pp RRP: £14.99 (Hardcover)
Kindle edition available here (£9.99)
I thoroughly enjoyed A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Becky Chambers invited her readers into a universe that whilst it had a somewhat utopian undercurrent, felt fun to explore through the journey she took her characters on. When A Closed and Common Orbit was announced, I was curious to see where she would go from there. It’s safe to say that the newly christened ‘Wayfarers’ series is growing into something great.
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Iraq +100 – Hassan Blasim (Editor)
Release Date: 17/11/2016 (UK)
Publisher: Comma Press
Pages: 224pp RRP: £9.99 (Paperback)
It’s safe to say that traditionally there have been quite a few readers of science fiction and fantasy who haven’t explored too far beyond the traditional scenes in the West (you’d be amazed how many people haven’t read anything by the likes of Nnedi Okorafor or Cixin Liu), which is a real shame, given the rich bodies of work from some incredibly talented authors just waiting to be read. Fortunately in recent years, this trend has begun to slowly reverse as readers become ever bolder and word of mouth online alerts them to new works they otherwise might have ignored. Iraq +100 is a key milestone in this shift.
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The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
Release Date: 06/10/2016 (UK)
Publisher: Fleet (Little Brown Book Group)
Pages: 320pp RRP: £14.99 (Hardback)
Kindle edition available here (£7.99)
Colson Whitehead has been woefully understocked in many British bookshops for some time, despite a career filled with great novels and essays, numerous awards (including receiving the MacArthur Fellowship in 2002), teaching at major American universities, and writing for the New York Times Magazine. Fortunately, it now seems that with the release of The Underground Railroad, Whitehead’s audience should soon grow yet further.
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Infinite Ground – Martin MacInnes
Release Date: 04/08/2016 (UK)
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Pages: 272pp RRP: £12.99 (Hardback)
Kindle edition available here (£6.02)
When Carlos goes missing halfway through a family meal in the midst of a sweltering South American summer, a semi-retired inspector is called in for what should be a routine missing persons case. What unfolds is a strange, sinister journey which poses questions about identity and the nature of reality itself.
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