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Don’t usually read sci-fi/fantasy? Robert Jackson Bennett, author of City of Stairs, thinks you’ll like this one.
When people discuss David Mitchell, they often immediately go to Cloud Atlas, easily his most popular book.
But his first novel, Ghostwritten, is a delightful, brilliant sci-fi/fantasy romp that may not only be the stronger work, but also serves as an excellent dip into the sci-fi realm for readers who might not be accustomed to the genre.
Ghostwritten has some of Mitchell’s favorite devices: it’s not one story but many – 10 short stories written from the point of view of many characters across a huge range of places and times – from an advanced physics professor hiding in Ireland to an elderly woman living inside of a sentient tree in remote China.
That’s right. I said “sentient tree.”
Each short story affects the others in wildly different ways: a character from one story might amble through the background of another with no repercussions, while another character’s death on the other side of the globe might bring the plans of a wholly unrelated character to a grinding halt. It’s very much a “butterfly effect” exploration of life.
But it’s Mitchell’s ability to inject fantastical sci-fi elements into this crazy, interconnected world without any hiccups that’s astounding.
Ghostwritten features a disembodied spirit wandering through the minds of humans, a hilariously insane Japanese cult, and an advanced artificial intelligence debating whether or not humanity should live.
His craftwork here is a masterclass in how sci-fi elements can be used to explore the mundane, the spiritual, and, indeed, the meaning of human life itself.
Congrats to Vanessa b., Dina Y., Yvonne M., Diana M., Carole H., and 45 other members of the Read It Forward community! Their entries were selected at random to win an Advance Reader’s Copy of City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett.
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