May 19, 2019

Horror, Horror and Even More Horror

Looking for a new apartment in Berlin, my life right now is pretty much a psychological horror movie itself, but that does not prevent me from craving for more, more, more horror, especially in the form of written fiction - or a real life haunted house I can move into, if I must!
And speaking of haunted houses, I am especially excited that it is time for the horror book club again where we will discuss Michael McDowell's The Elementals, a haunted house-Southern Gothic merger. Meeting is on Friday, May 24th, at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop as usual.
I must say it is a pity there are so few other books available from McDowell; apparently he has co-written Beetlejuice as well as Nightmare Before Christmas and an intriguing book series titled "Blackwater", which is, unfortunately, out of stock... Hope Valancourt takes notice!

On a further note; the votings for the horror books have been somewhat monopolistic with the only source of suggestions being me. And having decided to go by classic horror tropes (we will discuss haunted houses and terrible places on our next meeting), I prepared a short list sorted by tropes that you can expand according to your own taste and which can serve as a basis for our votings. I bet there are many more good books out there, so please help me improve it in terms of books as well as categories! (List has been edited)

May 13, 2019

Book Recommendations May 2019

Folks, there is so much going on right now in our private lives (side jobs, vacations, flat hunts, sick children…) that it was a slog to prepare the newsletter for May, but done at last! A little late and a little paltrier than usual, but here we are.
So as you know we had Cory Doctorow here and that was awesome. We have one more international event coming our way, and that one is with Brandon Sanderson on Tuesday May 14th (reading starts at 7 pm at Lettrétage - Mehringdamm 61). Since presumably it will be packed and we strongly suspect that Lettrétage will be bursting at the seams, Brandon and Heyne-Verlag decided to make a little signing at the bookstore before the event, so everybody interested gets the chance to meet him. If you have not had the opportunity to get a reservation or you cannot come in the evening, you can drop by the shop in the afternoon, where Brandon Sanderson and his marker will be waiting for you from 3.30 pm on.
Next Otherland Book Club session deals with horror again; we will be talking about Michael McDowell’s The Elementals, a haunted house-southern gothic merger that will not only scare you, but will often will make you smile and ponder. Meeting is Friday May 24th, begins as usual at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop. There's always snacks and drinks that you don't have to pay for, contributions are welcome. You never need to sign up to join us, but we appreciate it greatly that you do read the book if you're coming.
Enjoy our recommendations for May!

May 4, 2019

Next Regular OBC Meeting

Next Friday, May 10th, the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club is meeting to discuss Octavia Butler's Kindred; the story of Dana, a black woman who time-travels between 1976 and the slavery-infested 1815 to prevent one of her ancestors from dying. It is also one of the few books that we have read whose impact has reached beyond the community of speculative fiction. There are still copies left at the store, grab them!

The Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club meetings are always on the second Friday of the month at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore.
There's always snacks and drinks that you don't have to pay for, contributions are welcome.
You never need to sign up to join us, but we appreciate it greatly that you do read the book if you're coming.

Upcoming OBC meetings are as follows:
May 10 - Kindred by Octavia Butler
May 24 - The Elementals by Michael McDowell (HORROR)
June 7 -  Whipping Star by Frank Herbert
July 12 - Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Hope to see you there!

Apr 23, 2019

Folklore Meets the Fantastic in MYTHIC FICTION


by Clarence Haynes


We’re thrilled to announce that Otherland’s first Mythic Fiction Book Club discussion is this Friday, April 26th, 19.30 at the Otherland Bookshop. We’ll be focusing on the novel Circe by Madeline Miller, a 2018 release which chronicles the life of the nymph widely known from Homer’s The Odyssey for her role as a witch with powers of transmutation.
Miller talked about the book last year on National Public Radio in the U.S.; the short interview is here.

Myths are ancient narratives hailing from a wide variety of cultures, presenting fantastic, nonscientific, often allegorical stories that have provided explanations to communities past about who we are and what surrounds us, including the origins of the world and nature’s inherent routines. Myths are also concerned with the stories of various deities—those divine beings who cultivate worship and act as a mirror to humanity—as well as the feats of extraordinary mortals.
In the Western world, the continuing influence of mythology can be seen in contemporary literary offerings that include psychodynamic nonfiction, novels, comics, TV series and films. (I have found myself particularly interested in modern, more progressive interpretations of Greek and Roman myth.)

Apr 19, 2019

A Terrific Evening!

Elizabeth Hand has called him a "literary cult waiting to happen", City Magazine said he is Sweden's new horror king and I had previously claimed he is the man who ruins things for his readers (because he writes them so scarily!).

But Mats Strandberg who visited us for a chatter evening on Tuesday, is above all a genuinely nice and fun guy who might just well be one of the biggest horror fans I have encountered. And when you meet those great horror fans, what you do is sit down with them and pick their brains (which is what we did)! It was an awesome evening where Mats told us about his literary work and we talked about horror movies, books, Stephen King, Twin Peaks, Swedish crime,...

Apr 15, 2019

Guess Who Else Is Back?

Great news: On May 8th, 8.00 pm Cory will be back at the Otherland for a small meet&greet!
Can't wait, he was such a pleasant guest last time he was here in November...
By the way; his newest short story collection Radicalized is now available in harcover at the Otherland; Marc has reviewed it for the last newsletter.
See you folks there!

Apr 13, 2019

Book Recommendations April 2019

Something big is coming! The superstar of contemporary fantasy! Brandon Sanderson...is...coming!! It was hard for us too to believe, but on May 14th, at 7.00 pm he will be here in Berlin, in the beautiful Lettrétage (Mehringdamm 61, 10961 Berlin) chatting with you Otherlanders! IMPORTANT: Admission is free, but there is a little problem ...when announcing the event on our website, we asked people to make reservations. And they did - in fact, they did it so fast that all the seats are already booked out. That doesn't mean that we won't admit anyone else in, of course - but it means that a lot of people may have to stand ...
The doors open at 6.30 for everyone who has already made a reservation; at 6.45, we'll admit all the others - as many as we can - in.
We are deeply sorry, because you, our newsletter reader's, should have had the chance to make a reservation first; we promise that we will manage things more carefully next time.

Before that, on April 26th at 7.30 pm, we’ll meet for the inaugural discussion of the Otherland Mythic Fiction Book Club, where we’ll talk about Madeline Miller’s goodreads Reader’s Choice Award-winning Circe!
The Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club meetings are always on the second Friday of the month (additional book club sessions, like the Mythic Fiction Book Club, on any given Friday) at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore.
There's always snacks and drinks that you don't have to pay for, contributions are welcome.
You never need to sign up to join us, but we appreciate it greatly that you do read the book if you're coming.
Upcoming OBC meetings are as follows:
April 26 - Circe by Madeline Miller (MYTHIC FICTION)
May 10 - Kindred by Octavia Butler
May 24 - The Elementals by Michael McDowell (HORROR)
June 7 -  Whipping Star by Frank Herbert
July 12 - Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Enjoy our recommendations for April!

Apr 7, 2019

Upcoming Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club Discussions

We have two book club discussions this month and the first is next week already: we'll meet Friday April 12th, at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop to discuss Ali Shaw's The Trees.
What would the world be like if the trees took over; growing incontrollably and abundantly, destroying buildings, roads and even people along the way? And how would the survivors get organized? What is nature up to? All questions Shaw tackles in this post-arbocalyptic (term coined by Arne Beutell) fantasy novel.
The second meeting will be the debut discussion of the Otherland Mythic Fiction Book Club on April 26th, first book is Circe by Madeline Miller.

Upcoming meetings are as follows:

Apr 3, 2019

It‘s the X-Men, after all



Not quite a review of Sam J. Miller‘s Blackfish City


Blackfish City looked like THE thing to me – a book about climate change and gentrification, endorsed by Ann Leckie and Daryl Gregory, compared to Kim Stanley Robinson‘s work … I thought I was bound to love this but when I finished reading it, I did not only feel let down, but also slightly angry.
So I won‘t pretend this is a review. It is an opinion piece that is probably of more interest to people who have already read Blackfish City then to those who haven‘t, and it is very much about what I wanted to book to be. I‘d like to ask forgiveness for any inaccuracies: I‘ve read this book about three months ago and initially decided not to review it; but since my anger keeps coming back to haunt me, it must be vented out.

From here on, beware of SPOILERS.

Mar 21, 2019

Don‘t let them get organized!



A review of Josiah Bancroft‘s Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel 2)


I know, I know, I‘m one book behind on this series, but this is actually quite a feat, since usually, I only read the first book in a series, ever. Not so with the Books of Babel, the first of which, Senlin Ascends, is one of the most engaging adventure stories I‘ve ever read. The main reason for that was certainly the journey of its protagonist from naive school-teacher to mastermind on a mission; it is actually a kind of „Walter White becomes Heisenberg“ arc, only that Senlin manages to remain a more or less decent human being (something he worries about a lot). Add to this the series of beautifully bizarre places Senlin visits, their even more bizarre social rules and norms and the tentative exploration of matters of exploitation, class struggle and the subtle workings of power, and you get a very pleasant surprise for an occasionally jaded fantasy reader like me.

Mar 19, 2019

Otherland - Miscellaneous

Alas, the impact of the B-word has reached our book club, as it may have come to your attention: the next title for the Speculative Fiction Book Club, The Trees by Ali Shaw, is not stockable right now, because our supplier England is unfortunately not supplying at the moment. We are working on a solution though, so please hang on. We will be able to stock more English books eventually, we just need some time, certainty and stability.

On a completely different note:
Finding fresh impulses, new ways of addressing more people with varying interests is definitely one of the best outcomes of the lively discussions we have on book club evenings. As if reading and exchanging views on geekish books was not awesome enough, discovering new momentum to constantly expand our once small project is all the more exciting and makes me super happy!
So it is with immense joy that I present you the youngest offspring of the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club:
The Otherland Mythic Fiction Book Club.

Honestly, I didn't even know it is a thing, until book clubbing editor Clarence Haynes brought it to my attention; mythic fiction is literature inspired by myths and legends. Reason enough to open up a new branch, sink into this wide wide field and start up on Friday April 26 with this year's highly praised Circe by Madeline Miller.

Here is an overview of all upcoming OBC discussions:

Mar 9, 2019

Next OBC Discussion

The Otherland Book Club is unstoppable!!!

After an evening full of sensual horror with Carmen Maria Machado's work and a very ensqualming Dying Earth-discussion on Women's Day, we'll next meet on Friday, March 15, for the Speculative Theory Book Club!

We'll be talking about Samuel R. Delany's "About 5750 Words" (published in Jewel Hinged Jaw) and Steven Brust's "Truth as a Vehicle for Enhancing Fiction, Fiction as a Vehicle for Discovering Truth" (published here).

As usual we start at 7.30 pm at the Bookstore, there will be free snacks and drinks (contributions are welcome), no sign up needed but please read the essays!

Mar 7, 2019

Book Recommendations March 2019

We hope the new book arrangement in the shop - namely the fusing of the English fantasy and science fiction sections - has not confused you too much, but it was time for a change!
Other than that, everything goes on as usual: Today role-playing evening, tomorrow the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club (discussing Jack Vance’s Tales of the Dying Earth) and next Friday the Speculative Theory Book Club (discussing Samuel R. Delany’s “About 5750 Words” and Steven Brust’s “Truth as a Vehicle for Enhancing Fiction, Fiction as a Vehicle for Discovering Truth”). There’s no admission fee for any of the events, they all start at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore, there’s free snacks and drinks as usual, contributions are welcome. You don’t need to sign up for the book clubs (but please read the book/the articles), you do need to sign up for the role playing evening though (just drop Jakob a mail). Please check our website for readings in German.
Enjoy our newsletter recommendations!

Mar 1, 2019

Dying Earth at the Otherland Book Club

"He knew lore of all ages, secrets of fire and light, gravity and countergravity, the knowledge of superphysic numeration, metathasm, corolopsis."

Only a week from today is the day I have been waiting for so long: Next Friday, March 8, 7.30 pm we are finally discussing Jack Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth and I am all excited!

There are few things as uplifting as diving into Vance's gallant, grotesque, comical, absurd world and no one has ever been able to write so richly, so polished, craftily and cunningly...
Tales of Dying Earth did not only create a separate sub-genre and heavily inspire the works of collosal names such as Gene Wolfe, George R. R. Martin, Dan Simmons, Gary Gygax and many more; it is also my favorite book ever. So I will not stop gushing about it.
The warmth, humor, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, humanity in these books never fail to make me happy 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. This is the one book I would take on a deserted island with me.

Starting with...

Feb 21, 2019

OBC Reminder

Don't forget that the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club Horror Special session is taking place tomorrow evening, 7.30 pm!
We're reading Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, which consists of eight short stories some of which are eerie or unnerving and some touching and sad... But all of them are cleverly structured and beautifully written!
The Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club Horror Special takes place every three months on a Friday at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop.
There will be drinks and snacks, you don't need to sign up to join in, but please read the book!

Feb 15, 2019

Guess who's back?


Is the photo a big enough clue?
Whether you recognized them or not - if you're a fan, you're more than welcome to drop by the Otherland this Wednesday, February 20,  between 6 - 7 pm, because our dear friends Caitlin Sweet und Peter Watts will be there for a very short meet&greet and signing!


Feb 6, 2019

Book Recommendations February 2019

Winter was once coming, then decided otherwise and went somewhere else instead… All the better for Berlinale fans, because it is so much more pleasant to wait in endless movie lines when it is not below zero. Yes, the spring is almost here and the Otherland has a pretty full spring programm, which is unfortunately exclusively in German (please see our website for the full schedule). But don’t get discouraged; there will surely be enough time for international events! Until then, you can keep reading for and joining the Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club, which is in English. Here are the titles and dates for the next few months:

February 8th - Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
February 22nd - Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (horror special)
March 8th - Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
March 15th - Otherland Speculative Theory Book Club:
“About 5750 Words” by Samuel R. Delany (published in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw)
and
“Truth as a Vehicle for Enhancing Fiction, Fiction as a Vehicle for Discovering Truth” by Steven Brust (published here).
April 12th - The Trees by Ali Shaw

The Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club meetings are always on the second Friday of the month at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore. The additional sessions on horror and theory also take place on a Friday. There's always snacks and drinks that you don't have to pay for, but contributions are welcome. You never need to sign up to join us, but we appreciate it greatly that you do read the book if you're coming.

Here are our recommendations for February:

Jan 31, 2019

OBC on Catflaps and Labour-Saving Devices


Book Club time is almost here again!
Next Friday, February 8, 2019, we'll meet to discuss Douglas Adams' silly little detective novel about the man who has "a depressingly accurate knack for making wild assumptions": Dirk Gently.
Well, good thing that's the only thing depressing about this book!
See you on Friday!

Upcoming OBC discussion dates and titles are as follows:

February 8       Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
March 8           Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance

April 12           The Trees by Ali Shaw

Next Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club HORROR SPECIAL:

February 22     Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado


SPECULATIVE THEORY BOOK CLUB meeting:

March 15         "About 5750 Words" by Samuel R. Delany (published in Jewel-Hinged Jaw:
                      Notes on the Language of Scence Fiction)
                      and
                     "Truth as a Vehicle for Enhancing Fiction, Fiction as a Vehicle for Discovering
                      Truth" by Steven Brust (published here)

The Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club meetings are always on the second Friday of the month at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore. The additional sessions on horror and theory also take place on a Friday.
There's always snacks and drinks that you don't have to pay for, but contributions are welcome.
You never need to sign up to join us, but we appreciate it greatly that you do read the book if you're coming.

Jan 27, 2019

The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival

Otherlanders!

Courtesy of the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival
If you have some time on your hands this weekend, why not visit The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival that showcases horror cinema that's directed, written, and/or produced by women*?

The 2019 edition will take place on January 31-Feb 3rd at b-ware! Ladenkino.

This year's opening night feature is Christina Choe's Sundance hit NANCY, a psychological thriller starring Steve Buscemi and Andrea Riseborough.

Two other features in the program are the dark Mexican fairy tale TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID directed by Issa Lopez and the seldom seen 70s arthouse cult film MESSIAH OF EVIL directed by William Huyck & Gloria Katz.

Expect an array of horror shorts covering themes like obsessions, midnight camp, twisted love stories, and much much more! In addition, there will be talks on reproductive horror, intersectionality, gender and body horror, and a psychoanalytical investigation of hysteria and demonic possession by specialists from Canada and England as well as a horror-themed self defense workshop.

See all you scream queens and final girls there!

Jan 12, 2019

Book Recommendations of January 2019

New year, same shit all over again? Not in the Otherland. - and even if 2018 were to repeat itself, it would be great, because last year was awesome! Still we really hope to be able to greet many more authors from the SF/F/H realm and have a great time! Let’s see what this year will bring…
On January 25th, we’ll be having a book release party at the Otherland: contributing authors and artists of AndersWelt will be presenting this short story collection slash artbook! The reading is in German; it starts at 7 pm, and admission is free, as always.
You will find in this newsletter not only reviews of recommended books, but also little passages on what we’re looking forward to in the year 2019, enjoy!

Jan 6, 2019

Next Otherland Book Club Meeting



Our first meeting in 2019 will take place this Friday already and we'll be discussing Annalee Newitz's snazzy little book about anti-monopolist drug pirates and AI love, Autonomous.
It has been nominated for both the Nebula and Locus Awards for Best Novel last year and has already catapulted to number 4 of our best-seller list.
Meeting takes place on Friday January 11, at 7.30 pm at the Otherland as always.



The Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club meetings are always on the second Friday of the month at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore.
There's always snacks and drinks that you don't have to pay for, but contributions are welcome.
You never need to sign up to join us, but please do read the book if you're coming.