Books so good you could eat them.
I‘m restricting myself to Speculative Fiction, no hardcover, they’re too chewy. And my bookshelves of poetry are unhappy, but I’m leaving them out.
These works have personal meaning and resonance with me, but I don’t live on your street (probably not, anyway) and my life experiences are not yours. I apologize if the books don’t taste the way you expected.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Sebold’s book is courageous and glorious, it deals with a dark subject and brings into the light, transmuting horror into a work of beauty and rising high above it, reweaving the unthinkable until it can almost be left behind. Sebold’s own life experience gives her the understanding and compassion to handle the topic with grace.
Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
Tales is a collection of four novels, the first of which, The Dying Earth, is a collection of stories itself. The sheer brilliance of Vance’s writing, the breadth of his imagination in creating this world at the end of the world, filled with strange and beautiful magic, is amazing. And he conceives all this with prodigious originality: in all the books of his that I’ve read, it’s hard to recall any creatures from the standard fantasy menu. The collection is truly a bagful of dreams, available for only 250 terces if you know where to look beside the River Isk.
I was captivated by The Dying Earth series, and I didn’t stop reading until the words ran out.
The City and the City by China Miéville
Miéville is one of my favorite authors. As with most of his novels, this one is filled with perceptive societal commentary, and it’s brilliantly different, a new genre of speculative fiction all by itself. I read the paragraph at the end of the first chapter both forwards and backwards—it’s marvelously unintelligible, until you continue on. His new genre features novel ways of writing and thinking to go with it, yet it’s still eminently believable, with relatable characters.
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
What can I say? Murakami Magic. He’s another of my favorite authors and here, he’s at his best. Like all his novels, this one is very edible fantasy spiced with the wondrous magic of everyday life, which he perceives so clearly. This work includes a marvelous allegorical description of the creative process itself (that of necessity connects the subconscious with the conscious mind) and the End of the World itself is mystical and misty, blind and all-seeing, with a quality of light that you might find in the forbidden library of your dreams.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A stunning time travel (TT) novel, filled with detail, and based around an epic love story. I have shelf after shelf of TT stories, it’s my favorite genre. TT is paradoxical, because when someone travels to the past it affects the future they came from and creates contradictions. Some TT novels abound with obvious contradictions, but Niffenegger avoids them with her clever structure and premise.
Please excuse this somewhat digression or skip this paragraph. The TT Paradox only requires information transfer from the future to the past to occur, so in fantasy, even reliable crystal balls can cause it. Time is the greatest mystery, and I’ve been researching it for a long er … time, including simulating TT, and despite the Paradox and Stephen Hawking’s opinion, I think TT is possible. Philosophical/logical contradictions don’t apply in the real world, they just mean something different happens. But to create suspense I won’t tell you what.
That’s it, but I should clarify, in case the R- or ASPCB is concerned, that I only eat unimportant pages when there’s nothing in the fridge. Admittedly that does happen occasionally. Preparation is important, and even a sprig of parsley helps. If anyone wants a recipe, please contact me. -Steve Simpson
THE PURPOSE OF REALITY [SOLAR & LUNAR] BY STEVE SIMPSON
GENRE: SOLAR: Speculative Fiction Short Stories | LUNAR: Speculative Poetry
Steve Simpson’s remarkable collections of speculative short stories and poetry, both with illustrations, are dream-like, playful and wildly inventive. Here is a selection of the beings within:
The detective, who carelessly morphs into birds and insects, and cannot choose between brooding and moping, until a stylish grayscale client with retrolescent highlights appears.
Proteus, Homo Sapiens Beta, who discovered fire and put it out, who created a rudimentary encyclopedia that he pedaled across Gondwanaland on weekends.
At Claire’s school, the walls were cardboard, and her chain-smoking math teacher never allowed numbers to be mentioned. He used a drawing of a press to flatten slices of air into tissue paper for kites, and he was Claire’s favorite, because all the other teachers were ghosts. One day, with a little pasta and a little mambo, everything changed.
Aldona worked in the Damasco Auto scrapyard, and when the electromagnet on the crane burned out and dropped the blue Passat, no one saw the electric-winged shape that had been trapped by the magnet. After all, there was nothing to be concerned about: the alien space fleet had been driven away by the earth’s nuclear defenses.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Simpson lives in Sydney, and he’s never been able to work out exactly what he does, although he would probably feed the cat if he had one. His poetry and short stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and in the visual arts, works created with his image evolution software have been shown at several exhibitions. In the sciences, he’s published over 200 research papers, most recently in clinical neurology, where he’s developed a unique system for visualising mental states via EEG. Awards include the Peter Doherty Innovation Prize, for technology to make vehicles safer.