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Strange Fiction for Strange Times

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posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:06 PM
As we are cooped up there is only so much ATS, youtube, news one can handle.

If you like to read and are interested in strange (horror/sci-fi/dystopian/fantasy etc) I'd like to share a couple of my favorites currently.

Im hoping someone out there may have a couple suggestions to bolster the list - Im always looking!

1) Anthologies: Basically anything ELLEN DATLOW has edited. Like all anthologies there is hit and miss in them but on an overall scope she has a keen eye for good material.

She edits the BEST OF amongst many others and she always adds copious amounts of suggestions in each series. You can glean a lot and get into the authors you like best easier! There are a lot of one off short story writers out there so this helps separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

NIGHTMARES is a good one not in the best of series as is FEARFUL SYMMETRIES

If you are more into straight apocalyptic reading WASTELANDS 1&2 have some good stories, more than bad.

In Sci Fi Gardner Dozios has some great editions of The Years Best Sci Fi He was the editor of Asimov's for a while so he knows what he is looking at.

2) Authors/Specific Books

I went on a short story spree a while back and it lead me to many authors I like. All of these authors have short story books if you want to sample them to see if it is your style.

KEALAN PATRICK BURKE may be my favorite short story/novella writer right now.

Other than the incredibly brutal and sophomoric KIN most of his works are more unnerving and creepy than straight up blood and guts.

and The Number 121 to Pennsylvania are great. Actually all his short stories are great as well as the novellas. Kin is an outlier.

NATHAN BALLINGRUD is another author I am into right now - at least North American Lake Monsters and WOUNDS
Both are really good. Subtle, scary, and weird.

PAUL TREMBLAY is an interesting read - there are some hits and misses, but it is always thought provoking and strange.

Swallowing a Donkey's Eye is a quick strange read and Growing Things has several top notch stories.

Others notables I like that are recent (for me)

Bentley Little - The Collection
KEN LIU - just about anything he does
and if you are looking for something that won't really make you think but will for some odd reason make you want to come back ( i still have not figured out why I like it or if i even do) check out Ian Rob Wright

Just some ideas if you like these kinds of books. Hope someone finds a story or two they really enjoy!

edit on 9-4-2020 by ColoradoJens because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:22 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

Some interesting books in your list..

I could recommend anything Philip.K.Dick.

And really enjoyed Metro 2033, 2034, and 2035, By Dimitry Gluhovski.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:25 PM
a reply to: solve

Im about halfway done with Metro 2033 - totally forgot to mention it thank you! And yes, of course Philip K Dick!

An easy way to get into him is Philp K Dick Reader

Good choices to add!

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:26 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

I'm hoping to read The Third Policeman by Flann O'brien again. One of my favourites and almost indescribable! Strange, funny and has a dream like quality to it.

Also The Best of Robert Bloch. Short stories from the guy who wrote Psycho.
edit on 942020 by Tulpa because: Spilling

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:30 PM
well more on the fantasy side for books I would recommend, The faithful and the fallen series John Gwynne. I believe the first book is called Wrath? Another Book is called Grim Company by Luke Scroll. The faithful and the fallen series almost sets up like Marvels avengers where you have the faithful (the good avengers) then you have the other side with the fallen (bad avengers if the villians ever decided to team up in marvel.) and each book has it play out with chracters that you follow chossing which side they want to align on. and then as you guess it comes together for a satisfying conclusion.
edit on 9-4-2020 by American-philosopher because: (no reason given)

edit on 9-4-2020 by American-philosopher because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:32 PM
a reply to: Tulpa

I read it when I was in college and loved it. Its a classic and for some reason few seem to know it: The Funniest and Scariest Book Ever Written

I will check out Robert Bloch thank you! It would make sense to read him if he wrote Psycho!

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:35 PM
a reply to: American-philosopher

John Gwynne studied and lectured at Brighton University. He's been in a rock 'n' roll band, playing the double bass, travelled the USA and lived in Canada for a time.

Really that was all I needed off his web page to check him out. I am unfamiliar with him and will add him to my list. This is great thanks!

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:39 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

Great thread mate and can honestly say I've not heard of any of those so thank you.

Been rereading China Melville's 'Perdido Street Station' and it's a winner - also picked up 'The Mechanical' by Ian Tregillis and was quite impressed.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:49 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

A fellow fan of bicycles and atoms!!! That's great. I've never met anyone who read it (until I bought them a copy that is).

I hesitated to add At Swim Two Birds because that is tough to follow. Read it a few times myself and it's kind of uncontrolled but brilliantly written, somehow.

Miles from home is good, too. His colums from The Irish Times collected. Also The Dalkey Archive is hilarious fun.

S n F for thread idea.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 02:56 PM
a reply to: karl 12

Hey karl 12 I appreciate that! Ian Tregillis is excellent and hilarious. Milkweed Triptych is more or less how I wish WWII went.

I've heard of Perdido Street Station (did they make a movie?) and will now add it to the list. Keep on keeping on brother! Thanks and be well!

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 03:00 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

I first read author Tim Powers ''Dinner at Deviant's Palace'' and was wrapped up in it.

"After the huge critical acclaim he received for The Anubis Gates, Powers changed tack completely with Dinner At Deviant's Palace. Going back to his early science fiction roots, Deviant's Palace is set in a post apocalyptic LA. This is the story of one Gregorio Rivas and his quest to rescue his first love from the clutches of the sinister and highly dangerous religious cult of Norton Jaybush. As with so many Powers heroes, the road to Rivas's goal is paved with dangers both spiritual and physical and he comes through the journey both less and more of the man he was.''

After '' Dinner'' I then moved back to read '' The Anubis Gates'' and then several more of his.
I used to find lots of ''odd ball '' stuff like these, perusing the ''new SF'' section of several book stores in my area. But then it seems that slowly most of the shelves began to be filled up with Star Wars and Star Trek knock offs with too many authors seeking to cash in on those trends so that finding authentic scifi became much more difficult.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 03:07 PM
a reply to: TerryMcGuire

Thanks for that TerryMcGuire. I admit I am super embarrassed I have-not read any of Tim Powers books. Looking over his bio I am shaking my head wondering how I have missed him. I love the idea presented of how he crafts his stories:

Most of Powers' novels are "secret histories". He uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters.

Typically, Powers strictly adheres to established historical facts. He reads extensively on a given subject, and the plot develops as he notes inconsistencies, gaps and curious data; regarding his 2001 novel Declare, he stated,[2]

I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.

I love historical fiction and throw in some occult and now you are talking. Excellent suggestion thank you! Be well.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 03:20 PM
I have a book titled, Couch, about some guys who get caught up in a mystical/fantasy adventure while trying to move a couch across town!

I was flipping through Apple Books when I saw a novel that caught my eye, Sherwood Nation. It is dystopian tale where severe drought around the globe creates a "those with guns have water (wealth)" and then there is everybody else. Until, one day, an idealist steps into the spotlight while stealing some water. Guns and tanks vs bicycles. Good vs. what used to be good but is now self-serving. A new take on what "national" means.

Turned out both were written by the same guy, Benjamin Parzybok. Both are very recommended by yours truly. I went on a modern novelist kick after seeing Chuck Palahniuk at a meet and great at the local book store. So here are some others I enjoyed:

Apathy, I don't remember the author but the cover is worth the price of admission! It is hilarious with real laugh out loud moments. Nice to read some modern fiction; Tony Vigorito with Just A Couple of Days and Nine Kinds of Naked, which are both a surreal/fantasy but also funny and oddly touching; and, Year Zero by Rob Reid, which is more of a techie sci-fi style, which deals with weirdly enough copyright law and music when aliens come down and steal all the songs off the internet! It is very funny if you like music or love the music in American Psycho more than the film itself!

Fun thread! and nice to see some modern authors for a change!

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 03:34 PM

This book is a lot like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, except instead of a ring you have a couch. And instead of hobbits you have a computer programmer who is allergic to wheat, a conman, and a wire bending psychic. And instead of the Shire, you have Portland. Also, not so much with the epic poetry. But other than that...


Yeah Im checking that out definitely - thank you!

I have to say it is super cool you got to meet Chuck Palahniuk, one of my favorites. Other than the obvious, Choke and the Damned are good ones, Haunted was tough. Actually all his books are good and he is far out there.

I have spent so long trolling trying to find some interesting new authors so I appreciate your suggestions. There is SO MUCH out there that is garbage and SO MUCH that is unbelievable and doesn't get the attention it deserves. Im actually a little buoyed by some of the new stuff out.

Cheers and thanks! oh, also, Anger is an Energy..PIL? Where is it from? And second edit to add - thoughts on Paul Auster?
edit on 9-4-2020 by ColoradoJens because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 03:43 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

Just one more.

Malpertuis by Jean Ray.

It's billed as gothic horror but it's more odd than anything. There's a film "based on" this book, which is an all time favourite of mine also but doesn't match the story too much.

Happy hunting.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 03:48 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

I read Dinner straight off the shelf in 86. It was unsettling. Not as unsettling as some of the Lovecraft I had read in that Dinner was not as much the demons of myth but the demons in humanity, stretched into human monsters due to the apocalypse . Of course it likely will have lost it's edge now because post-apocalyptic stuff is common fare.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 04:01 PM
a reply to: Tulpa

I love Jean Ray! He's got a couple great short stories in a fantastic historical anthology (1908-2010) called The Weird

Thank you for reminding me of him! Also just have to say, its been so long since i read The Third Policeman thank you again for brining it up - one of the most truly insane books ever. Kind of a mix between Kafka, Nabakov, and William Burroughs.

And then the name Flan O'brien when you mentioned it made me think of Flannery O'Conner who also has some tremendously disturbing works, all incredibly written. Everything That Rises Must Converge

Thanks again! Keep em coming if you thing of more.

Dang it! Now you got me thinking about The Weird anthology...There is a Robert Bloch story in there "The Hungry House" so yes I have read him! Its excellent! Also out of there read:

The Willows (1907) by Algernon Blackwood - two men on an island with a rising river and lots of seemingly angry gods
and maybe my favorite of all "The Other Side of the Mountain" by Michael Bernanos.

edit on 9-4-2020 by ColoradoJens because: (no reason given)

edit on 9-4-2020 by ColoradoJens because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 04:03 PM

originally posted by: TerryMcGuire
a reply to: ColoradoJens

I read Dinner straight off the shelf in 86. It was unsettling. Not as unsettling as some of the Lovecraft I had read in that Dinner was not as much the demons of myth but the demons in humanity, stretched into human monsters due to the apocalypse . Of course it likely will have lost it's edge now because post-apocalyptic stuff is common fare.

Im getting it. Good writing never dies regardless of how many people tell the same tale over and over!

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 04:44 PM
a reply to: ColoradoJens

The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake really impressed me about 30 years ago but I've not re-read it since nor have I read any of his other stuff so you might have a different take on that.
He was pretty ill by the time he got to Titus Alone and it shows. There's a later edition that was supposed to be a bit more orderly but I've yet to read that so can't say.

I've become more of a non-fiction reader as I got older and posters above have covered PKD and more recent authors.

I would, however recommend Algernon Blackwood or Arthur Conan Doyle for short stories and , of course, the Sherlock Holmes classics.

posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 05:00 PM
a reply to: Tulpa

I too love biographies/non fiction and actually read more of those then the stories we are discussing! I just got on a little tear in-between "real books" as I had read so many in a row I needed a break.

Just throwing it out there, just read Revolutionary Brothers
About Thomas Jeffersons relationship with the Marquis de Lafayette - well written and a good read.
And one I was looking through for a source the other day that is an amazing read regardless of your political stances, Rebell Yell the story of Stonewall Jackson

Also its funny, I was editing my previous comment to you - reread it you may laugh. I put an Algernon Blackwood story in there as one of my favorites! Good taste!
edit on 9-4-2020 by ColoradoJens because: (no reason given)

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