A pair of recommendations and a glowing review for Jacob Weisman’s superlative anthology INVADERS: 22 TALES FROM THE OUTER LIMITS OF LITERATURE.
Jacob Weisman (photo: Jill Roberts)
YELLOWED, & CREASED praises the book.
The difference between “literary” and “genre”is something that comes up somewhat often on book blogs; the gap is both hard to quantify, yet also simple enough that it can be explained using pies. Long-time readers might already know that I have a habit of getting up on my soapbox about “what makes good genre” or defending genre works as “literary” fictions, as the (admittedly arbitrary) divide is something I’m both fascinated and frustrated by. So, needless to say I was very intrigued by the new collection coming out from Tachyon Publications, INVADERS: 22 TALES FROM THE OUTER LIMITS OF LITERATURE. The setup is pretty simple—it collects 22 SFF stories by authors who are known primarily for their literary/mainstream writing and less so for “genre” writing. How do genre outsiders—the titular invaders—use science fiction and fantasy tropes to blend genre and literary fiction? The results are pretty impressive.
The thing I love about reading short-story collections is seeing a variety of new and innovative visions, and this collection is quite varied indeed. There’s a lot of postmodern fear of our posthuman future, with stories toying with our love affair with technology and how that tech impacts our human relationships. There’s a few darkly comedic stories, like J. Robert Lennon’s “Portal” (where a family nonchalantly finds a magic portal in their backyard), or Robert Olen Butler’s “Help Me Find My Spaceman Lover” (a funny but sadly-sweet tale of spaceman love and self discovery). There’s even a few horror gems, like the aforementioned “Fugue State.” And really, there’s not a bad story among them—the best are impressive and have stuck with me for a while, and the rest are all very good and well worth reading. That about sums up INVADERS, one of the best SFF collections I’ve read in years. It’s a smorgasbord of visionary and thought-provoking stories, each different from the one that came before but no less interesting. Highly recommended, especially to fans of short fiction. And pick up a copy for your friend who doesn’t “get” SFF because they think it’s all spaceships and dragons.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY included INVADERS among its best summer reads.
Weisman brings together 22 SF stories by authors who, although not generally associated with the genre, are clearly fellow travelers. Junot Díaz, Katherine Dunn, Jonathan Lethem, Amiri Baraka, W.P. Kinsella, and others best known for literary fiction contribute stellar speculative tales. This volume is a treasure trove of stories that draw equally from SF and literary fiction, and they are superlative in either context.
Andrea Johnson at SF SIGNAL places the title on her radar.
WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR:
Because it’s really fun to see what “non-genre” authors do with genre ideas. Will the ideas in these stories be SFnal and innovative? How will the writing quality in this reprint anthology compare to my bread and butter science fiction? Only one way to find out.
For more info about INVADERS: 22 TALES FROM THE OUTER LIMITS OF LITERATURE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Goro Fujita
Design by Elizabeth Story