Oct 31, 2019

Book Recommendations October/November 2019

We’re hugely excited to bring to you (drum rolls)… James S.A. Corey!!! Yes, a couple of years ago we had the pleasure to have Ty Franck as our guest and this time we even get to have the full duo here! So mark your calendars: Tuesday, November 5th, at 7.00 pm the authors of the Expanse-Series, Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham, will be at the DTK Wasserturm (Kopischstr. 7, 10965 Berlin) - brought to you by the Otherland Bookshop!
On the following Thursday, November 7th, it is role-playing time at the shop again! And the next day, Friday November 8th, we’ll be discussing graphic novelist Warren Ellis’ suspiciously short futuristic book “Normal”.
There are two book clubs this month and the latter is for horror fans! On November 22nd we’re meeting to talk about T.E.D. Klein’s “The Ceremonies” - an almost forgotten horror classic and hell of an unsettling cosmic horror-gothic novel merger.
Admissions to the book clubs and the role playing evening are free but contributions are very welcome. If you want to come role playing, it would be great if you dropped Jakob a line at “service@otherland.de” and if you want to join the book clubs, it would be equally superb that you read the book if you’re coming to discuss it.
See you around!



Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone
tor: 18,99
Okay, I didn’t get around to reading this yet, but it deserves mentioning in our newsletter, so I’ll tell you why I’m going to read it instead:
First, Max Gladstone. His Craft sequence has been deemed one of the best recent works of weird urban fantasy, and comparisons to China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station abound. However, the number of volumes in the series intimidates me, so I’ll go for Empress of Forever instead, which is a stand-alone.
Second, proper space opera: an Evil Empress! Horde’s of sentient machines! Warrior monks that sound like a bunch of fundamentalist a-hole variant of the Jedi (which would actually be the same as simply being Jedi, but I digress …)!
Third, Vivian Lao, a hero from our time who is catapulted in this weird, over-the-top future universe … I mean, who does that anymore, and how cool is that? The whole thing sounds like a subversive Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon (shame on me, I can never quite keep those two apart, but I can sing FLASH - Aa-aah! For you, if you meet me at the bookshop, just ask).

{Paradise Tales} by Geoff Ryman
small beer press: 16,00

A wide variety of Ryman’s short stories, including the highly-recommended “Pol Pot’s beautiful daughter” - for this alone it’s worth to look into this collection! Apart from that you’ll find old and new stuff, dystopian, weird, haunted – this guy is capable of so many things. I really liked his style: melancholy, alien and subliminally brutal.

How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North
virgin books: 18,00

For Science Fiction Readers there are several plausible scenarios in which you face the fact that there is no more society-infrastructure left and you have to rebuild a livable environment with food, warmth, shelter and art from scratch. Not an easy task for a modern nerd. Ryan North's book is a shortcut for you - How to Invent Everything does provide you with exactly that: the knowledge to start from the beginning without so much trial and error. And in the end it doesn’t matter if your situation happens to be caused by a spaceship crash on a foreign planet, the result of the upcoming climate change or the Zombie-Apocalypse.
“How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler” is what ist says it would be: an honest guide book for time travelers who get stranded in the past. You will learn a lot about the basics of modern life and how to invent it again - from scratch.
Funny, clever, entertaining and educating. Pure nerd-stuff for survivors.

The Silver Wind by Nina Allan
titan: 11,10

Watchmaker Owen, a man with a clump foot and a heartache, gets commissioned to create a watch with a tourbillon, a complex friction-reduction device that has fascinated him since he first read about it. While he works at it, the world around him becomes increasingly strange, and the letters that Owen receives by his client’s daughter imply that her father might have sinister motives in commissioning the watch …
Nina Allan’s The Silver Wind is a novel comprised of several short stories and novellas that form a deliberately incoherent whole - the same characters are cast in ever-different roles, as watchmakers or spies, lovers or siblings (or both). The setting is equally fluid: It’s London, but while the London of the opening novella is that of 1923, we discover that in this 1923, there are atomic bombs and TVs - possibly due to Owen’s client using the watch he commissioned to alter time and bringing technology back to the past. Another London may be in the future or past, but England is obviously ruled by a blatantly nationalist, racist and eugenic regime, that, among other things, disallows anyone considered genetically “defective” from reproducing.
However, at the heart of The Silver Wind are not its time-travel and alternate history conceits, but its characters. Allan narrates their search for love and a place in the world pleasantly sober and still highly compassionate - The Silver Wind is a romantic novel in the broadest sense (including the dedication of a watchmaker to his beautiful work), but it doesn’t show a hint of sentimentality. So if you cherish the excellent novels of Jo Walton as much as I do, do yourself a favour and check out Nina Allan.

Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky
head of zeus: 11,00

The sun is dying. And Stefan Advani tells us his life-story which is at the same time “a requiem for the human race”. More the studious type, he becomes a man of action only by going through various adventures. In the beginning we see him shipped off to an end-off-the-world-prison called “the Island”, a structure that, through the labour of complicated mechanisms and machines, is floating in the middle of a djungle-lake. We learn what life in this prison is like and at two points the story jumps back to Stefan’s past, his growing up in Shadrapar, the last city on earth and to his life in the Underworld, where he had to flee to in pursuit of the authorities and a raging mob. As in earlier books, for example the most acclaimed Children of Time, this novel is full of evolutionary questions, but at the same time adventurous and thrilling. Gigantic useless machines from the past, genetic experiments, hungry eyeless sea-creatures, semi-sentient rodents, artificial humans and oh so much more to discover!



Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
redhook: 22,00

For the readers who enjoyed Seanan McGuire’s Wayward-Series! See which worlds January discovers behind all those (ten thousand???) doors. A great debut!

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain
tor: 14,99

I loved the cover when I first saw it! But I wasn’t particularly interested in the story... Until I started reading. And, oh my gods, this is a fun one! Look at the great djinn king (aka The Lord of Mars, the Red King, the Lord of Tuesday, Most August Rajah of Djinn) awake after a very long sleep under the mountains:
“And this incessant dripping. Was it some devilish torture devised by his enemies? No. It was fucking natural snowmelt. They’d buried him and then just forgotten about him. It was insupportable” (...) “Melek Ahmar stood up on shaky legs, and found that he had to support himself with the distortion field. His damn legs had atrophied. He looked down at his calves and found that they had inexplicably shrunk to half their mighty girth. His biceps, his dear, beloved biceps, good lord, they were barely bigger than his forearms. At maximum flex! He couldn’t even see the veins properly”.
So, this guy is pretty full of himself. Even the funnier when he meets the humble old Gurkha Gurung in front of his mountain cave and is taken home for tea. How the old dude knows his way around all the weird new stuff (technology, digital pictures, nano-climate...) – it must be magic, what a mighty sorcerer! Together the odd couple sets out to the grand city of Kathmandu to overthrow the almighty all-knowing tyrant Al Karma.
The book is only 163 pages, so Inci, I forgive you that I have to read this in full length after all – I’ll be having so much fun.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
JF: 24,50

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, that we have read for the Otherland Mythic Fiction Book Club in October, is an odyssey of sorts set in jazz age Mexico, follows the tribulations of Casiopea Tun, who unknowingly releases from a chest Hun-Kamé, the Mayan deity of death who was vanquished by his power-hungry brother Vucub-Kamé. With mortal and god physically linked, the injured deity informs Casiopea that they will be going to the city of Mérida, beginning a quest in which Hun-Kamé seeks to become whole again and regain power.



The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
tor: 15,00
When I researched “The Monster of Elendhaven”, the google book search offered me as related title “Overcoming anxiety for dummies” 2nd edition. Okay, so that’s the topic environment you are going to enter when reading Jennifer Giesbrecht’s book. It’s dark weird and strange and the language is enticing:
"Power was sweeter than apples. It was cheaper than water, and sustained the soul twice as well. If Johann was going to be a Thing with a name, then from now on he would be a Thing with power, too."
Horror, here we come.

Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé
sourcebooks fire: 14,00

A family drama/horror that leans heavily on YA elements, this is the atmospheric, gripping and dark tale of two sisters; Skye the extrovert and collected older sister and Deirdre, a little too dreamy and needy. When Deirdre someday suddenly disappears and weird things begin to happen, Skye suspects that maybe Deirdre was not dreaming after all.
Sorry to say that even though the prose is beautiful, the overall style is still somewhat dry and the denouement did not really satisfy me. But still - more than suitable for a couple of hours’ worth of creepy entertainment, just not anything seriously groundbreaking.

The Best Horror of the Year 11 edited by Ellen Datlow
night shade books: 17,50

Yay, it is that time of the year again!
No, not Christmas and although thematically closer, not Halloween either; it is the time Ellen Datlow publishes her “Best Horror of the Year” series again! For the eleventh year in a row! All year long this wonderful woman, an editor who bravely and tirelessly reads all available horror short stories, publishes the very best of them in an anthology, together with an overall review of the year past (awards, fanzines, books, whatever happened that year in the realms of horror literature) for us horror people to enjoy! I, for my part, have discovered many a good author thanks to this anthology.
This year’s issue features gigantic names like Laird Barron, Gemma Files, Joe Hill, John Langan, Michael Marshall Smith and the likes and I can’t wait to enjoy the first really cold autumn weekend on the couch reading! Rumor is on the streets that the selection gets better and creepier each year, so…

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror by Kröger, Lisa u. Anderson, Melanie
quirk: 23,50

Such a beautiful, deeply fascinating book!
What Kameron Hurley did with her much needed “The Geek Feminist Revolution” for science fiction and fantasy, Kröger and Anderson do for horror with this mini encyclopedia that proves the constant presence of female voices in the genre and demonstrates the contributions of women to contemporary western horror. In eight parts we are being introduced to the ladies that have been spooking us off: from founding mothers such as Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish to Afrofuturist horrorist Jewelle Gomez and in between Mary Shelley, Vernon Lee, Margery Lawrence, Eli Colter, Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, V.C. Andrews, Helen Oyeyemi, Angela Carter and so on and so forth… This is not only an extremely interesting reference guide on the subject - it also makes the perfect present for (but not only) the people it is dedicated to: “To all the girls who still sleep with the lights on, but read the scary stories anyway”...

Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan
Harvill Secker: 19,00

Finally a new collection of feminist-horror short stories! In her beautiful prose the writer addresses themes such as the (body) horror in pregnancy and childbirth, safe spaces or unsettling fears in regard to one’s past or even parenthood. Kirsty Logan knows about women’s fears and explores them quite elegantly in twisted fairy tales and ghost stories. To be read immediately!

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