#WorldBookDay is here – and quite appropriately, we asked Vajra Chandrasekera, author of The Marsh and The Brack, two outstanding speculative fiction stories that border on the surreal, to tell us his favourite SFF novels from recent years. He’s grouped them into subcategories, representing what he calls ‘the major food groups’ of SFF writing:
LIKE HOGWARTS, BUT NOT REALLY
The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins (2015). Technically in the “magical school” tradition, except the students are abductees and the headmaster may be the sadistic ruler of all creation: inventive, original and violent.
VitaNostra, Marina and Sergey Dyachenko (2007), translated by Julia Meitov Hersey (2012). The magical school in Vita Nostra is to Brakebills as Brakebills is to Hogwarts.
QUIET AND BITTERSWEET
Signal To Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2015). Utterly charming story about 80s music, coming of age and learning you have magical powers.
A Calculated Life, Anne Charnock (2013). Slow, intense novel about productized humans learning to live in the margins of a highly stratified society.
WEIRD LITERARY COLLECTIVES
Post-Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven, Antoine Volodine (1998), translated by J.T. Mahany (2015). Set in a future where a group of dissident writers (the creators of the “post-exoticism” literary movement) are imprisoned and dying one by one. Full of ideas and strangeness.
The Rabbit Back Literature Society, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (2006), translated by Lola Rogers (2013). Funny, dark story about the weirdest writers’ society and a virus that infects books.
ROBOTS AND ALIENS
United States of Japan, Peter Tieryas (2016). A homage to the classic “The Man In The High Castle”, but with giant robots.
Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor (2014). Aliens land in the sea off Lagos and first contact ensues, complicated by gods and swordfish.
Read Vajra Chandrasekera’s two stories exclusively on the Juggernaut app here.