A short but (hopefully) exciting announcement today: we're launching a Strange Horizons book group!
Here's how it will work: on the fourth Monday of each month, as part of that week's issue we'll post a round-table discussion about the chosen book. It might be a recent title or something older, a recognised classic or something we feel deserves more attention, a novel or a short story collection. The round-table will explore a few aspects of the book, and then we hope the discussion will continue in the comments, with many of you joining in.
There can never be too many interesting discussions about interesting books—so without further ado, here's the schedule for our first four months. Let us know what you think—and what else you'd like to see the book club discuss!
27 October 2014: Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip
Just published as a Fantasy Masterwork in the UK, McKillip's 2002 novel won the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. And here's the blurb: "The Prince of Ombria is dying, and already his sinister great-aunt is plotting to seize power. The Black Pearl is feared throughout the land, and the city folk know her reign will be a terrible one. Only the prince's son can stop her from seizing the throne but he's just a boy—barely worth the trouble of doing away with. Ombria, it seems, is doomed. And yet, beneath the streets, in a buried world of shadows and ghosts, a mysterious sorceress is weaving new spells, watched over by a girl sculpted entirely from wax . . ." It was reviewed here, way back in the day, by Rob Gates.
Participating in this discussion will be David Hebblethwaite, Erin Horáková, Chris Kammerud and Audrey Taylor.
24 November 2014: Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
Tigerman is Harkaway's latest novel, reviewed for us today by Chris Kammerud: "... freely steps into and out of the panels of comics, letting the literature of superheroes inform the characters, structure, and theme of the narrative, while still maintaining a large amount of realism." The novel tells the story of Sergeant Lester Ferris, the street kid he befriends, and the fate of the island of Mancreu on which they live: "a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution—a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater."
Participating in this discussion will be Niall Harrison, Maureen Kincaid Speller, and Aishwarya Subramanian.
22 December 2014: Fire in the Unnameable Country by Ghalib Islam
Another new book, and Islam's first novel. From the blurb: "The universe is shaking as Hedayat, the "glossolalist" narrator of Fire in the Unnameable Country is born on a flying carpet in the skies above an obscure land whose leader has manufactured the ability to hear every unspoken utterance of the nation. ... Hedayat's dark world is entirely foreign but oddly familiar, echoing the banality of our daily diversions and adding a terrifying twist. The Mirror, a gruesome, never-ending reality show, turns the city of La Maga into a permanent Hollywood-style film set where people gamble body parts and live in fear of the Black Organs, the paramilitary manifestation of the eviscerators that threaten to infect the nation. Islam's vibrant, ingenious construction sends the plot twisting down rabbit holes and caterwauling through secret doorways to emerge anywhere from a domestic living room to a bomb technician's workshop to the deep recesses of the state's repressive political apparatus."
Participating in this discussion will be Nic Clarke, Nandini Ramachandran, Ethan Robinson, and Aishwarya Subramanian.
26 January 2015: Unquenchable Fire by Rachel Pollack
Pollack's 1988 novel was the winner of the second Arthur C. Clarke Award. From the blurb: "In an America where the miraculous is par for the course, where magic and myths are as real as shopping malls and television game shows, Jennifer Mazdan listens to the modern storytellers recite the tales of the Founders. But when strange things start to happen and Jennie becomes pregnant—from a dream—she enters a struggle which threatens her own life and causes her to question everything she has ever learned."
Participating in this discussion will be L. Timmel Duchamp, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Kev McVeigh, and Ethan Robinson.