Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for November

Just ten November books cross genres and leap categorization with a single bound, including several new anthologies; a Lauren Beukes collection; the latest from Memory of Water author Emmi Itaranta; The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher’s journals from the ’70s; and Warren Ellis’s Normal, now in book form after its serial debut earlier this year.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

 

WEEK ONE

What the @#&% Is That?—John Joseph Adams & Douglas Cohen, editors (November 1, Saga Press)
Ranging from irreverent humor to straight out horror, What the @#&% Is That? grew from a meme on Twitter when iconic comic book artist Mike Mignola painted a monster. Nobody knew what the F it was, but they loved it. Renowned editors John Joseph Adams and Doug Cohen then asked some of the best writers in the fantasy, horror, and thriller genres including Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Christopher Golden, and Scott Sigler to create a monster story that included the line “WTF is that?” This anthology is a feast for the imagination for anyone who loves monsters.

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror—Ellen Datlow, editor (November 1, Tachyon Publications)
Unlucky thieves invade a house where Home Alone seems like a playground romp. An antique bookseller and a mob enforcer join forces to retrieve the Atlas of Hell. Postapocalyptic survivors cannot decide which is worse: demon women haunting the skies or maddened extremists patrolling the earth. In this chilling twenty-first-century companion to the cult classic Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, Ellen Datlow again proves herself the most masterful editor of the genre. She has mined the breadth and depth of ten years of terror, collecting superlative works of established masters and scene-stealing newcomers alike.

Infinite Rooms—David John Griffin (November 1, Urbane)
While narrating to a remembered psychiatrist, Donald Clement’s inner reality becomes infused with surreal fantasy: Neptune rising from the sea; a giant showing the wonders of the universe; an incredible stranger who promises to reveal the secrets of infinity. As Donald falls deeper into the mental realm, so his protected memories are gradually revealed again, exposing the shocking truths he has been hiding—even from himself. Like a unique, mind-bending cross between Clive Barker and China Mieville, this is a novel of wonderful psychological terrors and fantastical dreams, as one man wrestles with the thin line between fantasy and reality.

The Weaver—Emmi Itaranta (November 1, Harper Voyager)
The author of the critically acclaimed Memory of Water returns with this literary ecological tale in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin and Sheri S. Tepper, in which an innocent young woman becomes entangled in a web of ancient secrets and deadly lies that lie at the dark center of her prosperous island world. Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret—she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island’s elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society. But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver—and could she hold Eliana’s fate in her hand? As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn’t understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption.

The Hidden People—Allison Littlewood (November 1, Jo Fletcher Books)
In 1851, within the grand glass arches of London’s Crystal Palace, Albie Mirralls meets his cousin Lizzie for the first—and, as it turns out, last—time. His cousin is from a backward rural village, and Albie expects she will be a simple country girl, but instead he is struck by her inner beauty and by her lovely singing voice, which is beautiful beyond all reckoning. When next he hears of her, many years later, it is to hear news of her death at the hands of her husband, the village shoemaker. Unable to countenance the rumors that surround his younger cousin’s murder—apparently, her husband thought she had been replaced by one of the “fair folk” and so burned her alive—Albie becomes obsessed with bringing his young cousin’s murderer to justice. With his father’s blessing, as well as that of his young wife, Albie heads to the village of Halfoak to investigate his cousin’s murder. When he arrives, he finds a community in the grip of superstition, nearly every member of which believes Lizzie’s husband acted with the best of intentions and in the service of the village. In a village where the rationalism and rule of science of the Industrial Revolution seem to have found little purchase, the answers to the question of what happened to Lizzie and why prove elusive. And the more Albie learns, the less sure he is that there aren’t mysterious powers at work.

The Winterlings—Cristina Sánchez-Andrade, trans. by Samuel Rutter (November 1, Restless)
Galicia, Spain’s northwest region, in the 1950s. After a childhood in exile, two sisters return to their grandfather’s cottage for the first time since his shocking murder during the civil war. “The Winterlings” try to keep their dark secrets buried and carve out a peaceful existence in Tierra de Chá, an idyllic village host to a cast of grotesque but charming characters: a powerful psychic, a madman who believes he is a bus, a woman who refuses to die and the obese priest who heaves up a steep hill each day to give her last rites, a cross-dressing dentist who plants the teeth of the deceased in his patients’ mouths. Tension mounts when the sisters, once united by their passion for Hollywood cinema, compete for the chance to stand in for Ava Gardner in the nearby filming of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. Meanwhile, a mutual suspicion develops between the mysterious sisters and the eccentric villagers: Why have the women returned, and what are they hiding? What perverse business arrangement did the townspeople make with their grandfather, and why won’t they speak of his death? Enchanting as a spell, The Winterlings blends Spanish oral tradition, Latin American magic realism, and the American gothic fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Shirley Jackson into an intoxicating story of romance, violent history, and the mysterious forces that move us.

 

WEEK THREE

New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean—Karen Lord, editor (November 15, Peekash Press)
Do not be misled by the “speculative” in the title. Although there may be robots and fantastical creatures, these common symbols are tools to frame the familiar from fresh perspectives. Here you will find the recent past and ongoing present of government and society with curfews, crime, and corruption; the universal themes of family, growth and death, love and hate; the struggle to thrive when power is capricious and revenge too bittersweet. Here too is the passage of everything—old ways, places, peoples, and ourselves—leaving nothing behind but memories, histories, and stories. This anthology speaks to the fragility of our Caribbean home, but reminds the reader that although home may be vulnerable, it is also beautifully resilient. The voice of our literature declares that in spite of disasters, this people and this place shall not be wholly destroyed. Read for delight, then read for depth, and you will not be disappointed. Includes brand-new stories by Tammi Browne-Bannister, Summer Edward, Portia Subran, Brandon O’Brien, Kevin Jared Hosein, Richard B. Lynch, Elizabeth J. Jones, Damion Wilson, Brian Franklin, Ararimeh Aiyejina, and H.K. Williams.

 

WEEK FOUR

The Princess Diarist—Carrie Fisher (November 22, Blue Rider)
Nonfiction. When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager. With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

 

WEEK FIVE

Slipping: Stories, Essays, and Other Writing—Lauren Beukes (November 29, Tachyon)
A Punk Lolita fighter-pilot rescues Tokyo from a marauding art installation. Corporate recruits harvest poisonous plants on an inhospitable planet. An inquisitive adolescent ghost disrupts the life of a young architect. Product loyalty is addictive when the brand appears under one’s skin. Award-winning Cape Town author and journalist Lauren Beukes (Zoo City, Moxyland, Broken Monsters) spares no targets in this edgy and satiric retrospective collection. In her fiction and nonfiction, ranging from Johannesburg across the galaxy, Beukes is a fierce, captivating presence throughout the literary landscape.

Normal—Warren Ellis (November 29, FSG Originals)
Some people call it “abyss gaze.” Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you. There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: Foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geoengineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks. For both types, if you’re good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it’s something you can’t do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the abyss gaze takes hold there’s only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest. When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels, Adam uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future—and the past, and the now.

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