Zone One by Colson Whitehead

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“If they could bring back paperwork, Mark Spitz thought, they could certainly reanimate prejudice, parking tickets, and reruns. There were plenty of things in the world that deserved to stay dead, yet they walked.”

Zone One is a literary novel and as such is more focused on poetic language than action. The prose is filled with metaphors, similes, foreshadowing, personification, thesaurus words, and pages of description. So even though it’s a zombie book, it’s one your English teacher will be proud of you for reading. Continue reading

Dark Corners

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Dark Corners is a collection of horror short stories published by Amazon, which I’d say is worth your time overall.

“There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed” by Edgar Cantero takes place in a world in which anything you say becomes reality. It’s both fun and funny and also has a couple scary moments. Four children who are all Harry Potter fans (and who each belong to a different Harry Potter house) are having a sleepover when the ability to summon monsters like giant trapdoor spiders into existence becomes a problem. Continue reading

Weird Dream Society

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This collection of speculative fiction was published in order to support the refugee and immigrant center RAICES. In the introduction, the editor compares the treatment of present-day South American refugees to the way Jews were treated during World War II, which is an apt comparison. After all, FDR turned away thousands of Jewish refugees and sent them back to Germany due to fear that they would threaten national security. Many of them ended up dying in the Holocaust. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself due to the anti-immigrant sentiment of Americans today. Organizations like RAICES need all the help they can get. Continue reading

The Down Days by Ilze Hugo

In The Down Days, a laughter epidemic (similar to the real-life Tanganyika laughter epidemic) infects Cape Town, South Africa and the name of the city gets changed to Sick City. It’s forbidden to laugh in public and people are required to get tested daily for the disease. Due to everyone wearing masks all the time, lips become fetishized and giggle porn becomes a thing. The laughter disease is largely off-screen for most of the book, which was a bit disappointing. There should have been a scene early on featuring someone cracking up in public. Continue reading

Warmer

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Warmer is a collection of short stories published by Amazon concerning climate change. I haven’t read any of these authors before, but I’ve liked other Amazon collections, so I thought I’d give it a try. Some are literary stories taking place in the present, while others are sci-fi stories taking place in the future. Continue reading

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

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“If you were a diabetic and you didn’t have money for a hit of insulin, would you steal to get the money? Or just die?”

A Scanner Darkly is one of my favorite movies, so I thought it was time I read the book. It’s about a futuristic drug called Substance D that either kills people or permanently destroys their brains after a while, but because it’s addictive, users keep using it anyway. Philip K. Dick himself was damaged by drug addiction and bases some of the characters on friends of his, some of whom died due to drug use, so he knows what he’s writing about. Continue reading

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

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“He keeps complaining that the Singularity isn’t working out the way he’d hoped. I think part of what disappoints him is just how damned bureaucratic it is. So many lawyers. So many meetings.”
When I was a teenager, I was a huge fan of Neal Stephenson. I read his early novels Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Zodiac at least half-a-dozen times each. However, it’s been about 20 years since I last read something by him. (Wow, that suddenly makes me realize just how old I am.) I think the reason I stopped reading Stephenson is his novel Cryptonomicon. While it was good, it was a struggle for me to get all the way through. (It’s not exactly the type of book you read over and over again.)

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Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti

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“There are things which only madmen fear because only madmen may truly conceive of them.”
Thomas Ligotti’s writing is quite reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft’s in many ways. They both like to use what I think of as “thesaurus words” like tenebrosity and Piranesian, making many stories feel like the author values style over substance. Their narrators are often academics steeped in occult lore who come to realize humans are insignificant on a cosmic scale. They both have a preoccupation with dreams and cults. Neither feature very many female characters.

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