Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Adventure and even Romance, OH MY!: Gideon the Ninth and Darwinia

11 Aug

Some works are easier to categorize then others.  Two speculative fiction books that easily defy classification, however, are Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (2019) and Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson (1999).  Both although heavier on fantasy also have elements of horror, science fiction and even a little mystery and romance.  We read both of the titles for the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group which meets monthly.  You can see the complete list of all the past works we have discussed on our website.

Gideon the Ninth
by Tamsyn Muir
Gideon the Ninth is the first novel by New Zealand writer Tamsyn Muir and the start of her Locked Tomb/Ninth House trilogy.  Each of nine planets is ruled by a noble house that practices some kind of necromancy. Although advanced technology for space travel exists, necromancy and close combat ritual fighting are the norm.  Gideon must travel with Harrow, her best frenemy to the another of the planets for an important meeting between all the houses.  The book discussion group overall enjoyed this novel.  If you can imagine a gothic novel with a haunted house in space than you can get an idea of the originality and interesting setting and story for this novel.

Darwinia
by Robert Charles Wilson
We read Darwinia this past July with the book discussion group.  If Gideon the Ninth depicts a future that seems uniquely imagined than Darwinia does the same for the past.  Set when the novel opens in 1912, the earth has experienced a surprising “miracle” overnight.  Europe and all the countries there have been replaced with a mysterious new land filled with giant insect like creatures which Wilson vividly describes.  The novel starts with an exhibition taken by a photographer to capture the new wilderness, but as the novel unfolds there are many mysteries to unravel and a surprising science fiction twist.  Like much of the group I felt the ending could have been stronger, but I felt the first ¾ of the novel were captivating and worth checking out.  Fans of HP Lovecraft and gaslight fantasy will likely be intrigued by the novel.

Our next Science Fiction and Fantasy book discussion will be discussing Klara and the Sun on Thursday, July 28.  If you are mystery fan you will also want to check out the Hoboken Public Library’s monthly Mystery Book Discussion group.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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