Tor.com content by

Corey J. White

The One Book That’s Tattooed on Both My Arms

Philip K. Dick’s VALIS is one of my favourite books of all time—to the point where I have tattoos inspired by the book on both my forearms—but I don’t know that I’d recommend it to anyone who wasn’t already a big fan of Dick.

I was raised Christian. A lot of the time when people say that, what they mean is, “I endured church until I was old enough to talk my way out of it,” but I was devout right up until my final year of high school. At that point, I had more questions than my church had answers; in fact, I finally decided to leave after a sermon in which the pastor equated Jesus’s instruction to “have faith like a child” with not asking any questions… Sure, because children don’t have a million questions about absolutely everything. Anyway…

I had been a fan of Philip K. Dick for a few years by this time, but I hadn’t yet read VALIS. It’s a good thing I did, though, because if at that time I had discovered something like The God Delusion instead, I probably would have turned into an insufferably militant atheist type instead of … well, whatever I am now.

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Cats In Spaaaaace!

The cat is on the floor, looking up at me and yelling as I type this. My original plan was for a piece on ‘Pets In Space’, but she’s threatened to vomit on my bed, under the covers, if I don’t focus solely on cats. Why? Because cats are better than dogs. I am typing this of my own free will. Please send salmon.

In all seriousness though, even dog lovers have to admit that cats would make better pets aboard a space craft: they don’t require as much food as any but the smallest dogs, unlike many dog breeds they don’t need a lot of space to run around, and they’re great at catching the rodents chewing on the cables of the life-support system.

Now, with that debate settled, let’s look at some of the best cats in space across literature, comics, film, and video games.

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No Sleep ’til Beerlight: The Brilliant and Bizarre Science Fiction of Steve Aylett

Steve Aylett is a criminally underrated author of satirical works across a variety of genres—“criminally” being the operative word as Aylett’s city of Beerlight is a cyberpunk landscape of corrupt and/or useless cops, powerful mobsters, and bizarre private defectives (no, that’s not a typo).

The Beerlight books seem to marry the cyberpunk vision of William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, William S. Burroughs’ talent for utterly weird but comprehensible description, and the hardboiled stylings of Raymond Chandler or Elmore Leonard. That might make his work sound like pastiche, but the three novels and one-and-a-half short story collections that encompass all of the Beerlight stories are far too inventive and unusual to be anything other than completely unique.

Aylett’s books proceed at breakneck speed; they’re slender titles packed with more originality, insanity, and laughs than most of the larger tomes weighing down your bookshelves. Below you’ll find a rundown of the Beerlight books, including choice quotes and some of the fascinating science fiction concepts that Aylett employs…

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New York Burning: Five Books About the Collapse of New York City

New York City is massive, varied, vibrant, beautiful and ugly, and when you’re on the streets of Manhattan as a wide-eyed tourist, you can feel the city thrumming around you. It’s arguably the capital of the world, and has had to bounce back from devastating storms, floods, fires, terrorist attacks, and more. Perhaps this is part of the reason why authors continue to treat the city so harshly in their fiction: no writer wants to be outdone by reality. Below are five books which feature New York City in various stages of collapse.

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Series: Five Books About…