I have a confession to make: I have been spending all my time watching video game playthroughs and now I have multiple stacks of books to read. By multiple I mean like five or six. Large stacks. But I made an ambitious reading list for the next few months, so hopefully I’ll go from poser to a genius in that time. Here are five fantasy or science fiction books that I can’t wait to dive into. This is a T5W – more information at the bottom of the post!
I started this book about two years ago but was interrupted halfway through by a move. Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed to take a break. I’ve heard it called the best science fiction book every written, but Dhalgren is also a weird, Joycean ride through a hellish cityscape on the back of a schizophrenic wanderer. It is very violent and very dark. Also often confusing. But there are gay characters (the protagonist himself is bisexual) and the darkly poetic language, though unsettling, is also hypnotic. Samuel R Delany successfully creates a strange magical world in which anything seems possible. I’m excited to finish this up ASAP.
I bought this book a few months ago as my introduction to Salman Rushdie’s work. I know his name, of course, but haven’t read Midnight’s Children or The Satanic Verses. Maybe I should have just started with those but Two Years… is described as a blend of “history, mythology and a timeless love story” on the front leaf. Funny, that’s often how I describe myself.
Two Years… is about the various descendants of Dunia, a princess of the jinn (genies, which live in a world that coexists with our own) and her mortal lover. Strikes me as Heroes plus Fable (one of the characters is a graphic novelist) and it’s less than 300 pages long. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it and have a new favorite author soon!
Okay. I have to admit to you that I was initially interested in this book because the author shares a last name with Agatha Harkness, my favorite Fantastic Four hero (she’s a witch who tutored Franklin Richards and The Scarlet Witch). I mean, check out those eyebrows. How could I not love her?
And A Discovery of Witches is, in fact, about a witch (just not Agatha). This is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, but all of them are out already. This is important because what I’ve read of the first book makes me think this is a very bingeable series. It follows the story of Diana Bishop, an alchemical history professor and talented witch who accidentally calls for a very powerful book from the library stacks at Oxford. I haven’t gotten to the part that explains why only she could call this magical tome, but I assume that will be addressed at some point.
The world that Harkness has created is interesting because it is heavily peopled with witches, vampires and daemons (think genius-level, slightly mad creatives). And I do mean heavily. Diana feels pins and needles when other magical creatures look at her and at one point she practically has a panic attack in the library because there are so many magical creatures staring at her. That seems to be a little out of the ordinary in this world (it all has something to do with the book she called, I think), but I’m intrigued by the idea of a world that is both the one we live in and a deeply magical one. Mythical beings would have to be very, very good at keeping secrets for that to be true, though. Anyway, this is another good summer read. I just hope it doesn’t get too Twilight-y.
These are the second and third books in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. I bought the first book, Annihilation, on a whim in BookPeople and was astonished by its creativity, eeriness and deft plotting. It was a hurtlingly quick read, often horrible and scary but blooming with unexpected moments of stark beauty.
This series feels like a blend of Cthulhu mythos, Brave New World and House of Leaves. In Annihilation, a team of four women (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist and a surveyor) from the not-too-distant future journey into Area X, a dangerous and abandoned parcel of land that has been reclaimed by nature. Almost immediately they find an “underground tower” that’s not on the map and their team, which has been carefully constructed by the government, begins to implode. The story is told through the biologist’s field journal, but she an extremely unreliable narrator. As the story progresses, the chaos increases. We’re left wondering if this is a journal chronicling supernatural forces or one charting a descent into madness. Seriously good writing. Lots of poetry and genuine chills. I’ll be buying these two for the beach this summer.
What do you think? Have you read any of these? Please comment below or on Facebook and let me know about your upcoming fantasy and science fiction reads!