K.J. Bishop’s 2003 debut The Etched City launched to an insane amount of praise from some of fantasy’s most prestigious authors and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. A decadent novel in the literal and literary sense, tinged with weird Western tropes, Bishop crafted a new world peopled with gunslingers, mad scientists, and exotic monsters. But none of the colorful killers residing in the city of Ashamoil—Bishop’s New Crobuzon, her Amber—were as dangerous as an artist shaping reality from dreams.
That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote, a collection of nineteen stories spanning the Australian writer’s career from her earliest sales to works published here for the first time, is a menagerie of marvels. (And at the time of this writing, it just won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.) The prose is atmospheric, wry, and challenging. Fans of unconventional fantasy will be pleased if they are willing to trust in Bishop’s authorial vision and follow it down some very surreal avenues.