Haul of Books 2.0: Books Received Vol. 7

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Another edition of things I’ve added to my collection.  Some of these are research selections, as I bought them around the same time when I was putting together a syllabus on postcolonial fiction.  As such, the books below are an eclectic bunch.

What I want to know is:

What have you purchased recently?
Which books below most interest you?

Here’s the list:
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdey (Penguin)

Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts. 

This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.

Galactic Cluster by James Blish (Signet)

Imagine…a galaxy of superworms bound together through telepathy…and a planet whose inhabitants consider the human brain to be a cancerous tumor! 

Imagine…an incredible journey to Alpha Centauri that takes ten months for a man’s body–and 6,000 years for his mind! 

Imagine…the refugees of the ultimate germ war cowering beneath the crust of the planet.  To remian in hiding means mass psychosis–but to flee to the surface is certain death! 

James Blish has imagined all this…and has created from it a universe that is both fantastic and horrifyingly real.  Here is modern science fiction…by one of the acknowledged masters of our time!

The King’s Rifle by Biyi Bandele (Amistad)

It’s winter 1944 and the Second World War is entering its most crucial state. A few months ago fourteen-year-old Ali Banana was a blacksmith’s apprentice in his rural hometown in West Africa; now he’s trekking through the Burmese jungle. Led by the unforgettably charismatic Sergeant Damisa, the unit has been given orders to go behind enemy lines and wreak havoc. But Japanese snipers lurk behind every tree—and even if the unit manages to escape, infection and disease lie in wait. Homesick and weary, the men of D-Section Thunder Brigade refuse to give up. 

Taut and immediate, The King’s Rifle is the first novel to depict the experiences of black African soldiers in the Second World War. This is a story of real life battles, of the men who made the legend of the Chindits, the unconventional, quick-strike division of the British Army in India. Brilliantly executed, this vividly realized account details the madness, sacrifice, and dark humor of that war’s most vicious battleground. It is also the moving story of a boy trying to live long enough to become a man.

Was by Geoff Ryman (Penguin)

This haunting, wildly original novel explores the lives of several characters entwined by The Wizard of Oz–both the novel written by L. Frank Baum and the strangely resonant 1939 film. Was traverses the American landscape to reveal how the human imagination transcends the bleakest circumstance.

Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson (Vintage Contemporaries)(the image is from a different edition)

Hailed by the New York Times as “wildly ambitious” and “the sort of book that a young Herman Melville might have written had he lived today and studied such disparate works as the Bible, ‘The Wasteland,’ Fahrenheit 451, and Dog Soldiers, screened Star Wars and Apocalypse Now several times, dropped a lot of acid and listened to hours of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones,” Fiskadoro is a stunning novel of an all-too-possible tomorrow. Deeply moving and provacative, Fiskadoro brilliantly presents the sweeping and heartbreaking tale of the survivors of a devastating nuclear war and their attempts to breaking tale of the survivors of a devastating nuclear war and their attempts to salvage remnants of the old world and rebuild their culture.

The End of the World News by Anthony Burgess (Penguin)

The dying Freud hustled out of Vienna into exile.  A Broadway musical on the subject of Trotsky in New York.  The last throes of the planet of Earth in AD 2000.  These are all items on The End of the World New. 

Psychoanalysis, international socialism and The End–three themes, three stories–outrageously counterpointed into trinity, in a novel stuffed with verbal pyrotechnics, amazing sleights of fantasy, and tantalizing jokes, and which is crowned by a brilliant, unexpected, out-of-this-world finale–all written by one novelist at the height of his powers.

Here Comes Another Lesson by Stephen O’Connor (Free Press)

STEPHEN O’CONNOR IS ONE OF TODAY’S MOST GIFTED AND ORIGINAL WRITERS. In Here Comes Another Lesson, O’Connor, whose stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Conjunctions, and many other places, fearlessly depicts a world that no longer quite makes sense. Ranging from the wildly inventive to the vividly realistic, these brilliant stories offer tender portraits of idealists who cannot live according to their own ideals and of lovers baffled by the realities of love. 

The story lines are unforgettable: A son is followed home from work by his dead father. God instructs a professor of atheism to disseminate updated Commandments. The Minotaur is awakened to his own humanity by the computer-game-playing “new girl” who has been brought to him for supper. A recently returned veteran longs for the utterly ordinary life he led as a husband and father before being sent to Iraq. An ornithologist, forewarned by a cormorant of the exact minute of his death, struggles to remain alert to beauty and joy. 

As playful as it is lyrical, Here Comes Another Lesson celebrates human hopefulness and laments a sane and gentle world that cannot exist.

Starship by Brian Aldiss (Signet)

They were humans–or so they believed–the grotesque result of a grandiose experiment which had gone appallingly awry. 

Trapped on a world that was hurtling through space at a fantastic speed, they sought the riddle of their heritage among the only companions they knew–ghosts, mutants, giants and regimented rats. 

This is one of the most extraordinary novels ever written, the spine-tingling story of lost beings who try to find themselves in a world gone made.

The Battle of Foreve by A. E. Van Vogt (Ace)

Humanity, true humanity, had reached its Utopian ideal in the select colony of the perfect thousand–isolated from the crude world around them which they had populated with pseudo-men created biologically from the various beast species.  The thousand men and women were free to dream, to philosophize, to enjoy the flowers of the mind–but not of the body. 

Then Modyun, the restless one, decided to visit the outer world and thereby precipitated the Battle of Forever.  For what he found were worlds within worlds, wheels within wheels, and a deus ex machina which hinted to outer-space origins. 

It’s a new van Vogt universe-spanning epic, and it’s gripping science fiction all the way!

When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (Warner Books)

A runaway planet hurtles toward the earth. As it draws near, massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions wrack our planet, devastating continents, drowning cities, and wiping out millions. In central North America, a team of scientists race to build a spacecraft powerful enough to escape the doomed earth. Their greatest threat, they soon discover, comes not from the skies but from other humans.  

A crackling plot and sizzling, cataclysmic vision have made When Worlds Collide one of the most popular and influential end-of-the-world novels of all time. This Bison Frontiers of Imagination edition features the original story and its sequel, After Worlds Collide. 

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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