Books & Fiction

‘1984’ Redux: New Dystopian Thriller Explores the Politics of Science and Religion

Robert Mercer-Nairne

In his new book, Multiverse, Robert Mercer-Nairne transports us to a dystopian 2024, where the U.S. government is failing its citizens and the economy has collapsed. Each of the three political parties believes it has the solution: The dominant Rationalists look to science for answers; the Moralists and their leader President Dukes believe citizens have strayed too far from God and should use religion as their compass; while the Nationalists and their leader Milo Meadows III use drastic measures to gain power in Washington.

New Surfing Sci-Fi Book Promotes Marine Biology, Ocean Conservation

Brian Tissot

Later, she learned he was born into a family of movie stars and media darlings, and his entire life had revolved around fame and fortune. His parents raised him in the social media world, with every achievement, or failure, being broadcast to the galaxy. Although they loved him, they simply didn’t have time for Milo in their busy schedules, as they so publicly claimed in each broadcast, so he was raised by nannies and assistants and guarded by Moshe. Now, he lived and died through the adoration of his fans on the holoscreen.

Robert Stone Confronts the ‘Random Promiscuity of Events’ in New Book

Lee Polevoi

Drugs and alcohol played an active part throughout Stone’s work. This reflected his own experiences with intoxicants of one sort or another. It also found expression in the idea that mind-bending drugs and distorted perception might lead to a higher truth or to abject tragedy. “It’s a mess when everybody’s high,” he writes in “A Higher Horror of the Whiteness.” “I liked it better when the weirdest thing around was me.”

 

Immersive Reading for Our Year of the Plague

Lee Polevoi

If the global coronavirus pandemic is good for anything, it’s how we may rediscover the experience of immersive reading. With millions in the United States and around world who are confined to their homes, finding a short story collection, novel, or nonfiction tome that transports us to new, vibrant worlds can provide us with a blissful way to while away the hours. “Immersive” can mean books of great length or short stories you can read in an afternoon.

Author Tamsyn Muir Conjures Up a Gothic Space Opera in ‘Gideon’

Adam Gravano

In classic gothic fashion, though, this is not the only time the narration will provide the reader a false lead, albeit it is the earliest. In the context of the murders that happen later in the tale, this provides a most welcome fit of speculation from the reader — and despite the text inhabiting a fantasy universe, the false leads and dead-ends mimic those that are well known to crime readers. As Constance Grady stated in Vox, “Muir lets the plot unfold in the background when you're not looking, and she lets her characters do the driving.”

How Dorothy Parker Getting Fired From ‘Vanity Fair’ Launched the Algonquin Round Table

Jonathan Goldman

That afternoon, Parker and Benchley went to the Algonquin to tell their stories, staying for hours of gossip and rounds of drinks. After repeated recountings, the Round Table wits, who had long heard the complaints about Nast and Crowninshield, sprang into action. Alexander Woollcott persuaded his editors at the New York Times that the paper should cover the story. His article appeared the next day — good publicity for the trio, tantamount to a free "for hire" listing.  

Desperately Seeking Sasquatch in John Zada’s ‘Valleys of the Noble Beyond’

Lee Polevoi

John Zada went on multiple journeys to the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia for his new book, In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond. In small towns and villages, Zada meets many people who claim to have seen the Sasquatch, “the alleged race of half-man, half-ape giants” on the loose in the wild. Like its distant counterpart, the Yeti, a rumored denizen of the Himalayans, the Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot, has purportedly left behind footprints and engaged in random encounters with hunters, fishermen, and members of the Kitasoo, Heiltsuk, and other First Nation peoples.

 

Greed, Piracy, and Murder at Sea in Ian Urbina’s ‘Outlaw Ocean’

Lee Polevoi

The scope of reporting in The Outlaw Ocean is remarkable. Urbina covers a wide swath of oceangoing banditry and mayhem, and delivers his findings in clear, transparent prose that brings this sordid activity to life. Often the conditions in which he’s present are serious, if not potentially life-threatening. On a Ghanaian port police boat, for example, “the waves swelled to fifteen feet high, and I sensed that the men, not without reason, were getting scared.”

James R. Stewart’s ‘Deep State’ Analyzes FBI Role in 2016 Election and Beyond

Lee Polevoi

In Deep State, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist James R. Stewart offers a blow-by-blow account of how this all came to pass, and how the storm around the FBI lasted long into Trump’s presidency. The clash between Comey and Trump symbolized “an unprecedented and potentially mortal combat between two vital institutions of American democracy: the presidency and the ... investigative arm of the Department of Justice.” In his balanced, well-researched account, Stewart lays out the unique dilemma James Comey faced in 2016.

The Best Books of 2019

Lee Polevoi

For me, The Volunteer is the most accomplished work of fiction published in 2019. The story of Vollie Frade (the “Volunteer”) spans numerous generations, zigzagging from the American Midwest to the war in Vietnam, from the borough of Queens, New York, to New Mexico and Latvia. The intriguing opening chapters don’t prepare the reader for Vollie’s brutal ordeal as a POW in Vietnam, which he barely survives. That’s when the novel becomes something genuinely special.

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