This frenzied page-turner takes some delightfully unhinged ideas (invasion by alien punctuation, rave-themed VR dungeons, and a plane of existence where all ideas physically exist), creates a believable spell-casting system, and inserts a bad-ass heroine as odd as her world.
It’s a fast-paced, genre-bending, bonkers ride, and I loved every bit of it.
Recommendation: Read it. Absolutely.
Rabbits is a wild, surreal story that combines the bizarre conspiracies of X-Files and geeky fun of Ready Player One. It’s ridiculously entertaining.
Rabbits is the name of a game where you, in the real world, could find strange coincidences like this:
It’s an average work day. You’ve been wrapped up in a task, and you check the clock when you come up for air—4:44 p.m. You check your email, and 44 unread messages have built up. With a shock, you realize the date is April 4—4/4. And when you get in your car to drive home, your odometer reads 44,444.
While this could just be an unlikely number of meaningless coincidences, in the world of Rabbits, it means you’ve seen the edge of the game. Following these clues to the game’s end could result in immortality, vast riches, or even bigger prizes. Of course, the game can also be deadly. People have reportedly won the game, but many more have died.
Rabbits follows K, who’s been trying to get into the game for years. But when a reclusive billionaire tells K that there’s something wrong with the game and that K needs to fx it before the game starts, K is pulled into a game even larger that what he’d imagined.
Recommendation: Read it, absolutely.
Author Jeff VanderMeer is known for his surreal sci-fi Southern Reach trilogy (the first book was Annihilation, which was made into a movie).
A giant spaceship lands in the waters offshore of Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria, and things get out of control immediately. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor is more about the writhing, hustling world of Nigeria, and the arrival of aliens is a great way to see that in action. It’s very well-written, fast-paced, fascinating, and intense. It does not, however, make me want to visit Lagos.
I’m a huge fan of Andy Weir’s first book, The Martian, and his new book, Project Hail Mary, is even better. It’s fast-paced, fun, smart, and bold.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: thirty orcs and a dragon rob a bank…
No? That’s the premise of Charles Stross’s hard-science Halting State, where virtual characters rob a virtual bank for millions of not-virtual dollars, and no one has any idea how to solve the crime. It’s fast-paced, seriously smart, and filled with more Scottish that you usually get in science fiction.
There’s a sub-sub-sub genre of books out there I’ll call “Baffling Worlds.” The main character is in a world so bizarre and with such strange rules that it’s not clear whether they’re on an alien planet, in a magical landscape, or in a surreal dream. The focus of the book is not on character development or having adventures, but in the reader slowly learning about how this strange world works. Hearts of Oak is one of these books.
In the way that Galaxy Quest is my favorite Star Trek movie, Redshirts is my favorite Star Trek novel. That is, they don’t technically take place in the Star Trek universe, but close enough. And they’re hilarious.
Apologies for the self-promotion, but my New-York-Times-bestselling wife and I wrote an audiobook and I’m pretty excited about it.
The Worst Warlock is a humorous fantasy narrated by excellent British actor Carey Mulligan.
Kindred is one of the most intense, anxiety-inducing books I’ve ever read. It’s a tightly written, unconventional thriller.