Real, Surreal, and Somewhere in Between

That seems to be where we find ourselves this morning, going through the review bin.

There’s a certain kind of humor that makes its home in the land of the bizarre, in which the surreal is played for laughs, as in Good Omens, that classic send-up of just about everything from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Well, we find it again in Robert Kroese’s Mercury Rises, which is, if anything, even stranger.

Another variety of surrealism goes under the name of “magical realism,” which is a term that has been applied to many Latin American authors (Borges, Garcia Marquez, Allende), authors of speculative fiction (Delany, Lindskold), and Japanese author Haruki Murakami. See how that works out in Murakami’s latest novel, IQ84.

Sometimes the surreality is merely a matter of situation, as in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. So what if the only family you’ve ever known are monsters?

Maybe our in-between territory is occupied by Robert Charles Wilson’s Vortex, which takes a Big Idea and a cast of very human characters, and puts them all together into a fantastic (in several senses of the word) story.

And finally, leaving the surreal behind us, we enter the world of the very, very real (in fictional terms, at least): Glen Cook’s Second Dread Empire Trilogy, Reap the East Wind, An Ill Fate Marshalling, and A Path to Coldness of Heart. You can’t get much more real than that, give or take a wizard or two.

And now I’ve got to head back over to Sleeping Hedgehog, but I have a feeling I’ll be back. Keep your eyes open.

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