Five Science Fiction Books You Should Read Right Now
by Ed Park
by Lewis Shiner
For fans of rock and roll’s most fertile era, the conceit of Glimpses (1993) is irresistible: A stereo repairman discovers he can record legendary sessions that never were. He begins by accident, imagining a Spectorless version of “The Long and Winding Road,” and before long he’s somehow intersecting with Brian Wilson, Jimi Hendrix, and others, bringing history-shifting bootlegs into being. It’s a mysterious and compelling collision of character-driven fiction and pop culture that digs deeper than its catchy premise would suggest.
10,000 Light Years From Home
by James Tiptree, Jr.
Editor Harry Harrison’s 1973 introduction to Tiptree’s first book is, in a way, as fascinating as the forcefully imagined stories inside. Harrison hails Tiptree’s talent, and notes that it’s the writing that matters, not the fact that “he spent a good part of World War II in a Pentagon sub-basement” or other aspects of his manly-man biography. As readers now know—and as Harrison, at the time, didn’t—Tiptree was the pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon, Chicago debutante turned bohemian turned intelligence officer. (Julie Phillips’s Sheldon bio, Double Life, tells the whole remarkable tale.) The lead story, “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side” is a startling feminist critique of the genre’s imperialist thrust, its main speaker a wreck of curdled machismo.
by Jon Armstrong
At first glance, this recent novel is SF for the Project Runway set: A vision of futuristic fashion so feverishly conjured it makes Alexander McQueen look like Abercrombie & Fitch. Armstrong not only evokes every inch of this trend-saturated world, from its bizarre foods and multi-platform pop stars to its immersive retail experiences, but depicts at length the toils of the nearly subhuman underclass that makes such outrageous consumption possible.
by Rachel Ingalls
Like some cross between Poe and Alice Munro, Ingalls’s specialty is the long short story of creeping, inexorable doom. But her best book is this brief 1983 novel, which takes a B-movie premise—an aquatic monster escaped from a lab—and has him strike up a romance with Dorothy, a dissatisfied suburban housewife. The storytelling is unflappable and slyly funny: I like, for instance, that his name is “Larry.” Perhaps in an alternate universe, Vanity Fair is calling this, not Lolita, the only convincing love story of the last century.
by Natsume Ono
In lieu of a novel by Philip K. Dick, whose playful nightmares continue to infiltrate and shape our culture, I’m recommending this Möbius strip of a graphic novel by the Japanese Ono, which appeared in translation here last year. The title is no joke: Not Simple bends reality by multiplying the narrative frames until the breaking point. Yet even as the structural vertigo escalates, the book’s emotional core pulses like a beacon to guide you through.
About Ed Park
Ed Park is executive editor of Penguin Press. He was a founding editor of The Believer magazine and was an editor at The Village Voice, The Poetry Foundation, and Little A. He is the author of the novel Personal Days, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Bookforum, The Criterion Collection, and many other places.