Sep 30, 2019

Book Recommendations September 2019

After last year’s insane autumn, we may well be facing yet further, highly vibrant months at the Otherland! First the best of this month: Right in time before the dreaded Brexit, NATE CROWLEY is coming back to the Otherland for another fun reading! We immensely enjoyed reading the aquatic Zombie-Klassenkampf novel The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack, and got to know and love the hilarious The 100 Best Video Games that Never Existed. So I’m both excited and curious what Nate has in store for us this time. We will find out on Wednesday, October 16, at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore!
Moreover, we have our usual routine: First, on Thursday, October 10th, it’s role playing evening - this meeting will be dedicated to the memory of Greg Stafford, creator of RuneQuest, Glorantha and the King Arthur Pendragon rpg, who died this time last year. The next day, October 11th, it’s Otherland Speculative Fiction Book Club-time again! We’ll be discussing Hannu Rajaniemi’s otherworldly spy story Summerland. The Mythic Fiction Book Club discussion, where we’ll talk about Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s also otherworldly story with the gorgeous cover Gods of Jade and Shadow is on Friday, October 25th. All events start at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Book Shop, there are snacks and drinks you don’t have to pay for, but we’re always happy about contributions. If you want to take part in the role playing event please make sure to drop Jakob and Simon a line under ( If you want to join the book club discussions, we’d like to ask you read the book we’ll be talking about in advance! There is more to come for November, see you then!



The Book of Flora by Meg Elison
47North € 22,00

It seems like yesterday that Elison’s ground shakingly, blood curlingly apocalyptic The Road to Nowhere series, in which life becomes threatening for women after a global disaster, was published - though it has already been five years and the trilogy’s very highly anticipated glorious ending The Book of Flora is finally out. Fans will fondly remember the titular figure around which the finale centers from the second instalment. From journal entries to flashbacks, Elison uses a wide range of stylistic means to pep up her story, which alas, in the end, is somewhat weaker than its two predecessors. The reviews are massively divided on this one - read and see which side you’re on! [İnci]

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey
harper voyager € 12,50
The war is over. Life tries to reclaim its rhythm in Lower Proszawa… With the Maras – all sorts of helper-robots, its masked war heroes, its creepy police, its drugs, thugs and war-profiteers and its peculiar sense for amusement this is a weird weird weird city whose many parts have German names, foreign and beautiful. We follow the courier Largo Moorden into the lengths and depths of Kromium, Machtviertel, Lysergsäurehof and Schöne Maschinen. And all the while things are afoot in the abandoned, wartorn, contaminated Higher Proszawa, strange things indeed [Caro]


The Age of Madness 1: A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
gollancz € 27,00
Yeah, I know caps are cheap, and any book advertisement that contains the word “returns” is even cheaper. But it works, doesn’t it?
Mind you, this is not the world of the First Law as you know it and fear it - actually, you’ll have to learn to fear it in a whole new way, because industrialisation is running rampant, rebellion is brewing, and everything is up for grabs as a new age is dawning through clouds of soot, while the old age just WILL NOT DIE … [Jakob]

The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall
tor € 18,30

A man with a troubled past visits a lone witch notorious for wiping out whole nations and stuff like that to ask a favor from her. The woman - he calls her Eris, one of her many names - guards some the border to a realm of dreams and ghosts, marked by a fence in the desert at the end of a railway track. His arrival sets things in motion and ghastly fiends re-appears for the first time after four-hundred years. Eris is angry, and while she could just turn him inside out like a glove with a snip of her finger, she decides to instead grant him his request and take him on a journey to the other side, looking for a woman he might have loved or might have killed - or both …
Kerstin Hall’s novel has piqued my interest with its hints of the modern (railway trecks, wire fences) in a firmly mythical (otherworldly domains ruled by gods and demons, powerful witches, weird creatures) world. Then it gripped me with its nightmare energy and didn’t let go. If you want to brave this book, be ready not only for weird fantasy, but for all shades of horror from a haunted house with a eerily creaking cradle to maw-faces and claw-feeted demons who, in the end, may be the least terrifying creatures in Hall’s world. [Jakob].

She Would be King by Wayétu Moore
graywolf press € 22,00

A novel that could easily be made into an action movie: three heroes with different super-powers grow up in different parts of the world (an island in the Carribbean, a plantation in the Southern US, a village on the African West Coast) which are all linked by the Atlantic Slave Trade. It is the 19th century, and thus the project by the American Colonization Society to ship liberated slaves back to Africa is already up and running. Thus, the heroes all end up on the African shore, in what will eventually become the country of Liberia, between all battle lines: native population against African Americans against White American colonizers against the French colonial army... This is as much a historical novel as it is a fantasy story, and it has strong and weak passages throughout both. I recommend it mostly for the brutal, but nuanced retelling of colonialist ambiguities and absurdities. [Sarah]


Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay
titan € 12,50

Oh no Paul Tremblay, you don’t! Ever since I’ve started reading you, you constantly and repeatedly let children disappear, give them mental illnesses, betray them, let them become murderers, get them killed by intruders… Just as I was preparing for some writing of Tremblays that doesn’t deal with the anguish of the little ones (after all, not all stories of a collection can deal with suffering children, right?), I get slapped in the face by the first, titular story set in the Head Full of Ghosts-universe in which children basically … hmmm how to put this unspoilered… go through a very, very, very gruesome experience. Flowers in the Attic-kind of gruesome. So I finish it heavy heartedly and move on to the second story, which deals with drug addiction and domestic violence and mental illness... And just when I was starting to think I can’t stand to read this book any further, miraculously comes this delightful weird-tale “Something About Birds” - no suffering kiddies in it! - and turns the tables. It’s about a journalist who interviews a failed author who earned a cult following and is subsequently invited to a private party of the groovy sort and is honestly my favorite in this collection. Tremblay succeeds in proving his versatility in the remaining stories: stories of the weird, of psychological suspense, action mysteries, apocalyptic sprees, interesting cults that drive people mad and so on. Not too gory or soul shatteringly scary but often ambiguously eerie and deeply unsettling, as we are accustomed from Tremblay. [İnci]

Ghost Stories by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Newman
nick hern books € 14,50

A horror play, how delightful! And it is genuinely scary too!
In this super short read, we follow Dr. Goodman, a professor of parapsychology, delivering a lecture on ghost stories, citing interviews with three people who claim to have had supernatural experiences: a night watchman, a teen driver and a businessman awaiting his first child. The stories tie in in a spine-chilling twist that will leave you reader shocked!
Although it might be a little off-putting for the unaccustomed horror reader to read a theater script, it works with a little imagination just as well as a regular book. Moreover the film adaptation came out in 2017 and is equally recommended from my part! [İnci]


M-Space, Reflux, Elevation, The Triton Incident by Clarence Redd and Michael Larrimore
frostbyte books Euro 29,00/18.00/19,00/6,00
M-Space by Clarence Redd is a nice little d100-toolbox for space opera and hardish-sf science fiction campaigns. Based on the excellent Mythras rules set, it is a game in the RuneQuest/Call of Cthulhu tradition, meaning it is very much about skills, open character creation and producing believable results to your actions, not about levelling (like D&D) or about narratively oriented rules (like Fate) - although it has some touches of the latter with it’s generalized conflict rules.
The core rules of M-Space come without a setting and lend themselves well to everything from Star Trek over The Expanse to Star Wars. There are also two settings available, both with an in-built campaign: Clarence Redd’s Reflux is a space opera setting about a decadent, failing empire and the power vacuum it leaves. It takes some cues from Frank Herbert’s Dune, some from Star Wars, and - dare I say - some from books like The Word for World is Forest and The Telling by Ursula K. LeGuin. The result is something not often seen in SF role-playing games, a science fiction setting that actually feels more inspired by sf literature than by the movies. The short campaign that forms the bulk of the book features a good mix of intrigue, detective work and action. Violence is deliberately downplayed and presented as a not particularly promising strategy in Reflux, while other aspects of the M-Space rules - like social conflicts - are highlighted.
The Elevation setting by Michael Larrimore is described as “Star Trek on a shoestring”: The characters work for an organisation that is all about finding new species and introducing them to the galactic society before some ruthless corporation or empire discovers them and takes advantage of them - or wipes them out. However, the Elevation organisation has fallen on hard times and has to make do with all the help it can get … There’s also a separate introductory scenario for Elevation, The Triton Incident. The concept is great, and the book explores it with a number of examplary antagonists, allies and aliens and a short campaign.
All in all, this is some very good and inspiring material for sf gaming! [Jakob]

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