Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Blog by Alex Kane: 10 Mind-Blowing Books for Your Eyeballs and Earholes - Giveaway - July 21, 2015

Please welcome Alex Kane to The Qwillery. Presently, Alex has a Kickstarter running for Asphodel - a new creator-owned, independent science fiction comic. Asphodel is written by Alex Kane and handpainted by Gale Galligan. Check out the Kickstarter here: http://kck.st/1HYhROD and see more of Asphodel including artwork (which is fabulous).

10 Mind-Blowing Books for Your Eyeballs and Earholes

There are a lot of books out there. A veritable ocean of short stories and comics. So, every once in a while, I like to take stock of the amazing novels, stories, essay collections, memoirs, and graphic novels I’ve been digging and pass them on to you for your eyeballing and listening pleasure. Yeah, no, you’re welcome.

I don’t like to be bored by what I’m reading. Life’s too short to read mediocre, “safe” books and stories, ones that take no risks and give you nothing new to chew on. Don’t worry—I’ll do my best to save you from that awful fate!

10. Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell. I’ve been reading Toby’s work since I started really getting into contemporary science fiction into college, and this book would get anybody hooked on the stuff. Every writer has some core influences, and Buckell is high on my list; Asphodel probably wouldn’t have been written were it not for the fun, creative worlds in his Xenowealth series.

9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler is an engaging, well-written look at the rise of one of television’s most brilliant comedy writers and performers. Poehler uses her trademark wit and unmistakable, conversational voice to chronicle the production of various now-classic Saturday Night Live episodes, as well as her masterpiece, Parks and Recreation. I’ve really enjoyed the memoirs of Nick Offerman and Rob Lowe, too, but Poehler’s book tops the list.

8. Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt might be better, though. Oswalt’s had a long, varied career like Poehler’s, although he’s a bit more of an underdog—not at all the kind of person you expect to write an absolutely, unexpectedly brilliant memoir. But Silver Screen Fiend will surprise the hell out of you. Dude can write!

7. Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover’s probably not one you’d see coming on a list of reading recommendations, but that’s only because you haven’t read it yet. If George Lucas didn’t exactly stick the landing with his final Star Wars film, he at least offered up enough inherently dramatic story-stuff for Stover to smooth all the rough edges. The result is not just one of the greatest novelizations I’ve ever read; it’s really a phenomenal book, period, on par with Empire and the best of Alan Dean Foster’s tie-in work.

6. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. This book will make you rethink what’s possible in the realm of science fiction and fantasy—there’s no one way to categorize the various twists and turns in the story, or the genre-bending building blocks of Onyesonwu’s postapocalyptic world. Let’s just say there’s magic, modern technology, spirits of the afterworld, and an Earth turned entirely to desert. It’s far better than most of the better-known books in its subgenre, frankly.

5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples is a hilarious, trippy, at times shocking family drama set against a galactic backdrop. If Staples’s art doesn’t get you to pick up this one . . . well, you’re probably just not much of a comics reader—but Vaughn’s rich (and utterly bizarre) worldbuilding will be enough to keep you reading. The emphasis here is always on the characters, and the result is thrilling.

4. Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku. There’s a joke in the opening chapter of Ernie Cline’s Armada about how the protagonist is “a man of science,” even though he usually gets a C in science class. I’ve always been a bit like that—a student of the humanities, mostly, but one who nevertheless has an enormous interest in science brought on by my love for futurists like Arthur C. Clarke and, more recently, Kaku. Physics of the Future is a book anyone who struggled in science class can read, full comprehend, and enjoy the heck out of.

3. How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is a book you must read. Chris Taylor’s chronicle of Lucasfilm, the Star Wars saga, and the man who created it is an inspiring, informative text that’s incredibly well researched. It will leave you with a far richer understanding of the film industry, the creative process, and the pop-culture phenomenon that is now everywhere—Star Wars is, after all, inescapable now that Disney is running the show.

2. I Can See Right Through You, by Kelly Link, is one of the opening stories of her collection Get in Trouble, and it’s probably the best thing you’ll read all year. A complex tapestry of reality television, the Twilight phenomenon and celebrity relationships, and “the Demon Lover,” who readers might remember from short stories by Elizabeth Bowen and Shirley Jackson, it transcends all those things to create a haunting, nightmarish impression that won’t leave you anytime soon. It’s available to read for free online at McSweeney’s, so you know what to do.

1. Locke & Key is probably the most deserving contender for the number-one spot. Joe Hill’s groundbreaking comic series ran for a lot of issues, totaling six volumes in its collected edition. I’d also recommend you pick up Scott Snyder’s The Wake, which is certainly an honorable mention here, but you really owe it to yourself to read Locke & Key—if you’re not a comics reader, Hill will change your mind about that. Enjoy it, but consider keeping a light on. There’s some scary shit out there in the dark!

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope you get some good fun out of these books. I know I did.

Kickstarter: http://kck.st/1HYhROD  ~  Facebook

About Alex

Alex Kane is the managing editor of The Critical Press, a publisher of books on film and culture, as well as an executive producer of the Star Wars documentary The Prequels Strike Back. He also serves as a first reader for Uncanny Magazine and works full-time as a freelance copyeditor. A graduate of the 2013 Clarion West Writers Workshop, his fiction has appeared in more than a dozen venues, including the Exigencies anthology from Curbside Splendor’s Dark House imprint, edited by Richard Thomas. His reviews and criticism have been published in Foundation, The New York Review of Science Fiction, SF Signal, and Omni, among other places. He lives in west-central Illinois.

alexkanefiction.com • Twitter @alexjkane

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