Reading

 

On these pages you will find the best in speculative fiction books, with brief reviews. The reviews are all positive: if I don't like it, I don't promote it. I have also included pages with research resources, which others with like interests may explore.

As a convenience to visitors, links are included for all books to Amazon.com, and you may add directly to your shopping cart from here.

Contemporary Classics Non-genre Medieval Resources Movies

The best in what is happening now.

Molly Gloss's Wild Life:  

The joy of this book is its heroine, a cynical, "scandalous" author living in the mud of Oregon in 1906. At the climax of the novel, she transforms into a para-verbal creature of the wild, and then sees the human world from the outside. Gloss handles the worldview transition with astonishing skill in this understated slice of life. Winner of the Tiptree Award.

More by Gloss.

Connie Willis's Passage:

Sometimes light-hearted, sometimes deadly serious. Near-Death Experiences, hospital politics, quacks, real science, resurrection, and the Titanic. If you can't imagine how these subjects can coalesce, you must read Willis.

More by Willis.

Candas Jane Dorsey's A Paradigm of Earth

Aliens visit the earth in the form of blank, infantile persons, to soak up earth culture and understand humanity. One comes to live in a home of broken, edgy, counter-culture misfits and the alien and hero discover (or rediscover) humanity together.

J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series 

Forget the hype and the movie, this is a great story. Epic high fantasy with a twist. Can Harry save the world without getting detention? One of the best children's authors of all time. Bright characters, playful attitude, tight plots, colorful language.

For those looking for inside tips on Hogwarts, may I recommend the boxed set from Hogwarts Library, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Quidditch Through the Ages. A benefit for Comic Relief UK.

More by Connie Willis

The Doomsday Book

A deeply spiritual book. A young graduate student undertakes a reckless solo time-travel to the 14th century, with the aid of an ambitious but dim department head. What transpires reminds me of nothing so much as Endo Shusaku's classic Silence, as Willis confronts the ancient question of "Where is God when terrible things happen?" Her answer is startling.

 

To Say Nothing of the Dog

Set in the same world as The Doomsday Book, but here her profundity is replaced with absurdity, as the very fabric of space time is threatened by an event that has something to do with the battle of Waterloo, a Victorian debutante's love-life, Jerome K. Jerome, a bishop's bird stump, and the survival of cats, to say nothing of the dog. Willis's wit is at its shining best.

Click here for a selection of other books by Connie Willis, you can hardly go wrong.

More by Molly Gloss

The Dazzle of the Day

 A thoughtful story of Quaker colonists who have grown up on a "habitat" spaceship, making the decision to colonize a very marginal world, or to seek another world, that only their descendents will live to see. The familiarity of home--however rudimentary. The fear of the unknown. Heartbreak. And the patient quest for truth and consensus.

 

The Jump-Off Creek

A woman moves out to a homestead up the Jump-Off Creek, in the backwoods of Oregon. A bleak slice of life in the real West: the austere poverty, the insubstantial yet powerful ties of community, the painful yet important propriety. A change of policy two thousand miles away can destroy a way of life here, and render whole groups of people desperate and bitter. Only pig-headed stubbornness can help one get by.

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