I am not one of them, neither is the assumed reader of this introduction. Yet here I am, telling you to buy books for this ghastly time of the year. Not because I want you to go through all the aforementioned procedure, but because I think that books and movies are CRUCIAL FOR YOUR SURVIVAL in these hard times! Stock up on books, movies, music, games, anything you find that will fight depression off and invigorate your spirits during long toilet breaks, afternoon naps, intervals after everybody’s passed out from eating too much and while hiding inside the christmas tree.
For those of us who don’t find any religious meaning in these days: You will find below some of the means that will help you make it through. Some are our personal recommendations and some the subjective best of the ending year 2018.
Persevere my fellow sufferers, my companions in misery; times are difficult but we need to stay strong, keep on reading! [Inci]
A Plague of Giants
little brown €12,50
Kevin Hearne’s first epic fantasy series!
A great read full of diverse characters, the German translation will be out in April 2019. This one makes an ideal gift for the sad Patrick Rothfuss fan in your life. And the best thing? Part two is planned for next year :) [Charleen]
The Stand, Complete and Uncut Edition
anchor books €9,99
A young tradition is a tradition nonetheless. So in the second year in a row, to give a Stephen King recommendation for christmas is now officially a tradition for survivalists. It’s fast paced, easy and nice to read, quick adrenaline for dozed off nerves.
To customers who come to Otherland and ask for a post-apocalyptic novel, my first recommendation is either The Stand or Swann Song by Robert McCannon, to which they usually answer that they want something less horror, more science fiction.
But I do and will never give up and stick to my point that The Stand is the ultimate apocalyptic AND post-apocalyptic story.
Most of humanity is wiped out when a mutated flu virus developed in a military facility is leaked out by a panicking carrier. Earth’s downfall, the subsequent struggle and fear of the few remaining, leading to and ending in the legendary showdown between two adversary survivor groups, are told on whopping 1433 pages. This one just might keep you going well after the holiday season… [Inci]
The Murderbot Diaries
All Systems Red (14,99)
Artificial Condition (16,99)
Rogue Protocol (16,99)
Exit Strategy (16,99) - coming soon to the Otherland!
This soap opera watching, program hacking, jealous, sarcastic murderbot has enchanted us all throughout 2018 and I so hope that Wells will be collecting every award there is out there for it. Don’t stop reading at the first book, the stories do keep on getting better and better! [Inci]
Tales of Dying Earth
orb edition €22,99
I have a secret I am going to tell you about.
When people feel down or blue, some of them play golf, some brush their cats, some blame the immigrants, some go shopping, some learn to love themselves and some pick up a fight at the pub to make themselves feel better.
What I do is reading Tales of Dying Earth.
I always feel so in awe by the warmth, humor, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, humanity in these books each time I read them and to me Vance is the best; he is unique, funny, stylish and he should have had a much greater impact on fantasy and current literature.
Starting with six ultra-futuristic, interlinked fairy tales that orbit around various wondrous characters, this collection offers in the next two books, The Eyes of the Overlord and Cugel’s Saga, the quest of the funniest anti-hero Cugel of taking revenge from Iucounu the Laughing Magician for teleporting him to the other end of the world. Twice. The last book, Rialto the Marvellous, deals with a great assembly of magicians who all prove to be highly dubious and self-serving.
This is the one book I would take on a deserted island with me. If I could choose, I would do nothing but read this collection for the rest of my life.
On a side note: We’ll be reading this book for our book club in March, so there’s enormous amounts of it in stock at the bookstore. [Inci]
Best of 2018 Science Fiction
The Murderbot Diaries 1: All Systems Red
tor Euro 14,99
One of the perks of owning a bookshop is getting books before they are officially available. So I am lucky enough to already own and have read all three of Martha Wells Murderbot novellas. Looooove them. Ha. A security bot who is made to kill, be killed and treated like a piece of equipment gets sentient, hacks his control module and keeps on doing what he is told to do, because he has nowhere to go. And as soon as he is alone, he keeps watching entertainment series like a maniac to keep himself from thinking. Wow. Great, better, perfect. Really. Murderbot made me laugh, murderbot made me cry and murderbot made me bite my fingernails. [Wolf]
Murderbot Diaries 2: Artificial Condition
tor Euro 16,99
Can a machine, designed for the sole purpose of killing as efficiently as possible ever be likable, delightful, yes even adorable? Martha Wells' heartless Murderbot can!
Anne Leckie is a fan, 99,9% of Goodreads is a fan, the Otherland is a fan, I am a fan; if you're unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, run to your book store, start with All Systems Red and catch the Murderbot-fever. The good news for those who already are a sucker of this shy, antisocial yet immensely endearing killing machine - the second book, Artificial Condition is already available at our modest bookshop.
As to the plot, let me tell you one thing: it gets even better (if that's possible). In this second adventure, Murderbot sets off to find out about the massacre that gave it its name and gains a very cunning companion on the way. I know the waiting is painful but we'll just have to endure some more to read the entire story! [Inci]
penguin Euro 11,10
Imagine a world in which women are the physically stronger sex; a world where it is dangerous for men to go out at night, where women can beat, rape, hurt, force men, and lead wars. That's basically what Naomi Alderman's engrossing page-turner is about. It starts off with young girls around the world developing an additional skein in their collarbone which allows them to generate electric beams through their hands, a lightning of sorts. This ability spreads quickly as the younger, stronger generations can pass it on to older females. And what starts off as a defense mechanism in a patriarchal world quickly turns into the sort of power that causes radical changes in society, reversing political, religious, gender roles. Although Alderman's depiction of (especially) gender-related issues and her characters can tend to be somewhat over-simplified, she raises important questions about the nature of power structures that will surely lead her readers to ponder some. The Power is a thought provoking novel with an interesting premise. [Inci]
Finally! I’ve been waiting for the re-release of this book for over a year, and now it’s finally there!
Rosewater is a great, solid first-contact story that is based on a logic that feels very natural. A novel that made it to one of my favorites in no time!
Set in 2066 in an alternate/future Nigeria, the story follows past and present events in protagonist Kaaro's life. He lives in Rosewater, a doughnut shaped fictional town, encircling an alien construction called the Biodome which encompasses the mysterious Utopicity. Yeah that's right, in Thompson's universe extraterrestrial entities have been visiting and besieging Earth as early as 2012, when an amorphous THING called Wormwood implemented itself under London and started releasing strange funghi-like microorganisms into its surroundings, basically xenoforming Earth slowly but surely.
One of the consequences are the so-called sensitives, people who have been affected by these funghi so that they can act and move in a virtual alien network called the xenosphere and who can read/feel the minds of others.
Kaaro works at the Integrity Bank as a contractor - a sensitive who acts as a firewall by reading classic books and thus filling the xenosphere with useless information, making it harder for feral sensitives to steal information from bank customers e.g. passwords, birth dates etc. As a sideline he uses his powers to interrogate people held captive by a government unit called S45.
His life is all haywire; between falling for the lovely Aminat, meeting her very extraordinary brother Layi, the super arcane butterfly-woman Molara with whom he occasionally catches up in the xenosphere, the ever so mysterious missions of the S45 and the pursuit for the Bicycle Girl, an anarchistic enemy of the state, he finds out that more and more sensitives have been dying for no apparent reason. As the circle of events draws tighter around Kaaro, more and more light is shed on the nature of the aliens inhabiting Earth.
The setup and storyline are complex, agile and dynamic enough to keep the book going, but there is more awesomeness in it. Thompson's elaboration of human psychology is masterly; he knows the stuff to make his characters feel acutely real and alive, to give them a certain versatility seldom found in literary figures.
This is a genuinely fantastic book, read it by all means [Inci]
Best of 2018 Fantasy
pan macmillan Euro 17,45
In Naomi Novik’s new stand alone Spinning Silver, Rumpelstiltskin meets the White Walkers from A Song of Ice and Fire. It might sound weird, but it’s actually brilliant. Characters that make you feel with them, two strong heroines and strange men who seem to be in league with demons make this novel even more head spinning. Hence the name, maybe?
Novik lands a solid new stand alone and proves once more that she deserves the praise. What I personally liked best about Uprooted and Spinning Silver after her "Temeraire" series is her new focus on strong female characters that don’t need saving, but do the saving instead.
To be clear, this is neither a prequel nor a sequel to Uprooted. Sorry for that :) But Novik draws again on her love for fairytales and makes them her own by reshaping them in a new and fantastic world. [Charleen]
penguin Euro 10,99
12-year-old Sunny was born in New York and then returned to Nigeria with her family. Thus she is “akata” – a “wild animal” or “wild cat” – an African-American. Sunny is an albino who loves to play football. But in school she is a misfit and bullied by her schoolmates. She does make friends when she learns about the leopard people who, like her, have special abilities. The group has to evolve and learn to master the magic if they want to use it against Black Hat Otokoto, a black magician who kidnaps kids to mutilate and sacrifice them. A family secret, juju (African black magic) and wonderful world-building (means of transport and payment, architecture, etc) provide Sunny‘s story with a rich and powerful flavour (previously published as What Sunny Saw in the Flames). [Caro]
The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack
abaddon Euro 9,99
This is the zombie Klassenkampf I've been waiting for – told straight from the horse's erm... from the zombie's mouth!
Schneider wakes up to find himself one of the many convicts who are punished for their deeds by being reanimated and zombified after their deaths and forced to service aboard a vast trawler on the ocean until their bodies fall apart. He is quite sure he didn't commit the crime he is being accused of, so he plots an uprising. As the cover says, sometimes a zombie's gotta do what a zombie's gotta do! Gripping, funny, fairly disgusting! Don't miss out on this one. [Inci]
Best of 2018 Horror
Paperbacks from Hell
quirk books Euro 24,99
All readers, theoreticians and fans of vintage horror, beware! Grady Hendrix presents his new masterpiece Paperbacks from Hell; a beautiful, top-quality anthology in which he leads us in a highly entertaining tone through the unholy yet magnificent world of horror paperbacks of the 70's and 80's... Where disgusting little Nazi leprechauns lurch in Irish castles... Where demon-fighting occult experts battle death dwarfs, underwater vampires and were-sharks... Where Satan buys souls and impregnates women in abundance... Where cover art can't be gauzy, racy, bloody enough... Where... yeah, you get the idea. A must-have for every fan! [Inci]
titanbooks Euro 11,10
Christina Henry reminds me of how tremendous a difference a small twist in things can make! Just take the tale of Peter Pan: A free-spirited and mischievous flying boy who refuses to grow up spends his days on the mythical island of Neverland with his squat, the Lost Boys.
OR see it Henry’s way: A selfish, childish, manipulative, lying, cheating little punk, who would sell his own grandmother to achieve his goals, creates insular environment reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies, before everything falls apart due to his thoughtless actions. In Henry’s hands a cheery, childish piece of writing turns into something grim, dark and somewhat heartbreaking.
The best part of this retelling is Henry’s loyalty to J.M. Barrie’s The Lost Boys; nothing she writes conflicts with the original work. The story from Captain Hook’s point of view is brutal, is sad, is disenchanting. As The Guardian’s blurb promises, you’ll never look at Peter Pan in the same way again! [Inci]
Ellen Datlow (ed.)
The Best Horror of the Year Volume 10
night shade books Euro 15,99
There’s so much good horror being published nowadays, so much to read! So much that although it’s been almost six months since it has been published, I still wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take a peek at the 10th and latest volume of Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year hadn’t it been for this newsletter.
We’re ten times lucky to have have Ellen Datlow who keeps us updated on the current situation of the world of horror. Not only does the 10th edition of The Best Horror of the Year contain 21 superb short stories by acclaimed authors such as John Langan, Mark Morris, Carmen Maria Machado or Carol Johnstone; it also summarizes all horror related significant happenings of 2017; awards, notable novels, magazines, journals, webzines, anthologies, collections, poetry and non-fiction. [İnci]
We Sold Our Souls
quirk: € 10,95
With three books in the past five years, Grady Hendrix has truly blasted off into the skies of horror literature - His distinctive style, humor and choice of subjects (a furniture store that has been experiencing supernatural phenomena, an 80s possession novel about girly BFFs and a kick-ass horror paperback anthology - Horrorstör, My Best Friend’s Exorcism and Paperbacks from Hell; all available at the Otherland, of course) never fail to make me happy. And with his new book he didn’t fail me again; We Sold Our Souls is about 1990s heavy metal, surviving the brutal music industry and never giving up.
Kris Pulaski, lead guitarist of the 90s metal band Dürt Würk, suspects in retrospect that lead singer Terry, who has gone solo and skyrocketed into the charts, might have sabotaged more than just the band. She hits the road to reunite her band, take back their souls and even prevent the end of the world. A fast paced story with clever twists, definitely darker than previous Hendrixes, an unholy pact of heavy metal/rock and horror, following the tradition of George R. R. Martin’s Armageddon Rag, Karyn Kusama’s kick-ass horror flick "Jennifer’s Body" (2009) or Sean Byrne’s "The Devil’s Candy" (2017). I give it two thumbs up! [İnci]
A God in the Shed
Imagine a god of death and hate, trapped within the rules of a game it has learned from a child a century ago.
Imagine it gets angrier, meaner, crueler the longer it is trapped in this game. It can and does take people apart piece by piece, eat their souls or bring out the worst in them.
Imagine the only thing between you and this god is serial murder and that murderer has just been caught...
A God in the Shed is breathtaking! Perfect from its premise to its prose; clever, creepy, gripping, stomach churning and spine chilling all at once. I can’t remember the last time I have finished a book so fast, but here I am. Also, J. F. Dubeau is is definitely on par with King, Straub or Tremblay; an author to be watched closely, I think we’ll hear a lot more of him in the future! [Inci]
Best of 2018 Role Playing Games
Michael Witwer et al
Dungeons & Dragons: Art & Arcana - A Visual History
ten speed press € 48,95
This is a terrific book! From the first iterations of most people’s favorite RPG called Chainmail and the original Dungeons & Dragons to present-day fifth edition, it covers the history of this game through its visual presentation. It is half art book with tons of beautifully reproduced original artwork from D&D products, and half history of the trials and tribulations of Gygax, TSR, and the game itself. What makes it even more interesting are juxtaposed illustrations of certain iconic monsters throughout the various editions, spotlights on artists, and also a huge collection of ads, covers for board and computer games, film posters etc. It’s a treasure trove of material and information, an entertaining read and a huge reason for drowning in nostalgia. [Simon]