What a Strange Strange World We Live In

Tomorrow I'm hosting a guest post from the author of Gray Widow's Walk. He ponders whether his real-world/different world (maybe even strange world) novel is science fiction, horror, romance, or a blend of more; but best of all, he ponders the strangeness of humanity which always wants to put things in boxes, label them and make them safe. When something's truly strange, when it doesn't fit in the box, then we get scared.

And so it's hard to get a cross-genre novel published, the author claims. It's hard to advertise a story that can't just be labeled on put on the shelf. It's got to be hard to ask the library to shelve something inherently unplaceable. And...

Well, really, we authors don't want our books on shelves so much as in readers' hands. And in this strange strange world, sometimes it's reading about something stranger that makes us see our fears as the follies they are. Just because someone looks differently, acts contrary to popular assumptions, or doesn't seem to fit, it doesn't mean we should be scared.

I've been sadly remiss in posting book reviews recently, and I have to confess I'm reading a very strange novel at the moment - Justin Cronin's City of Mirrors. I love it, but I shan't be reviewing it yet awhile - 600 pages or so is a long long read, even for me! Still, here are some reviews of tales set in strangely different or normal worlds. Find some coffee and enjoy.

First is A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court, edited by Scott M. Sandridge, a really fun collection of smoothly written, distinctly odd takes on adult fairytales (or tales of fae - not quite the same), which entice and satisfy the reader, even leaving a pleasant taste in the mouth (if also the odd dead fairy on the doormat). Enjoy with some well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee, and pet the nearest feline gently as you drink.

Jane Blonde: The Perfect Spylet by Jill Marshall offers young readers, probably girls, a very strange world that crosses Harry Potter with James Bond. It's kind of confusing - so many unexplained details to this world - but it's a fast fun tale of a small girl saving a small part of the world. Enjoy with some easy-drinking two-star coffee, but keep a dash of complex four-star coffee on hand to untangle the plot.

I guess children's books are often set in strange worlds, but this next really only seems strange, and the story includes lots of real-world interest and detail. The Magical Mango Tree by Agronomist – Avilak certainly taught me a lot about our own very real and strange world, how plants grow and how industry works with farming. The text has a few complications, but the illustrations really bring the world to life, and the information will enthrall young listeners. Enjoy with some slightly complex four-star coffee.

Randy Ingermanson's Transgression is set in a strange real world too--the world of history in Jerusalem, in the time of Paul. But it's also a tale of modern Jerusalem, conflicting religious views, and people who are, after all, not so different now from long ago. It's a time-travel tale--definitely strange--which invites the reader into fascinating musings on the nature of free-will. And it's very cool. Enjoy with some very elegant, complex four-star coffee.


Nice mix of storytelling. As for boxes and genres, I wish we didn't have them because some stuff just doesn't fit in a neat and tidy pigeon hole.
Sheila Deeth said…
So true Malcolm. I never did like pigeonholes. It always seemed like the best thing was the one that didn't fit and had to be delivered separately. So maybe the best books are the ones that don't fit.

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