Spectacular Fiction Imprint
From science to speculation and beyond — Spectacular Fiction! offers the best stimulating writing for this world...and all the others.
1. TVA Baby — Terry Bisson
2. Fire on the Mountain — Terry Bisson
3. Sensation — Nick Mamatas
4. Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History — Diana Block
5. Damnificados — JJ Amaworo Wilson
6. Abundance — Michael Fine
7. The Road through San Judas — Robert Fraga
Author: Terry Bisson
Publisher: PM Press (Spectacular Fiction Series)
Published April 2011
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 192 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction, Short Stories
Beginning with a harrowing, high-speed ride through the Upper South (a TVA baby is a good ol’ boy with a Yankee father and a 12-gauge) and ending in a desperate search through New Orleans graveyards for Darwin’s doomsday machine ("Charlie’s Angels"), Terry Bisson’s newest collection of short stories covers all the territory between—from his droll faux-FAQs done for Britain’s Science magazine, to the most seductive of his Playboy fantasies ("Private Eye"), to an eerie dreamlike evocation of the 9/11 that might have been ("A Perfect Day"). On the way we meet up with Somali Pirates, a perfect-crime appliance (via Paypal) and a visitor from Atlantis who just wants a burger with fries, please.
Readers who like cigarettes, lost continents, cars, lingerie, or the Future will be delighted. For those who don’t, there’s always Reality TV.
"Bisson's work is a fresh, imaginative attempt to confront some of the problems of our time. It is the Bissons of the field upon whom the future if science fiction depends.” —Washington Post Book World
“With his sharp accuracy and sharp humor, he seems to me the Mark Twain of science fiction." —Kim Stanley Robinson
“Terry Bisson is one of the sharpest short story writers in science fiction today.” —Sacramento Book Review
It’s 1959 in socialist Virginia. The Deep South is an independent Black nation called Nova Africa. The second Mars expedition is about to touch down on the red planet. And a pregnant scientist is climbing the Blue Ridge in search of her great-great grandfather, a teenage slave who fought with John Brown and Harriet Tubman’s guerrilla army.
Long unavailable in the United States, published in France as Nova Africa, Fire on the Mountain is the story of what might have happened if John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry had succeeded—and the Civil War had been started not by the slave owners but the abolitionists.
"History revisioned, turned inside out ... Bisson's wild and wonderful imagination has taken some strange turns to arrive at such a destination."
—Madison Smartt Bell, Anisfield-Wolf Award winner and author of Devil's Dream.
“You don’t forget Bisson’s characters, even well after you’ve finished his books. His Fire on the Mountain does for the Civil War what Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle did for World War Two.”
—George Alec Effinger, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for Shrödinger’s Kitten, and author of the Marîd Audran trilogy.
“McKinley Cantor and Ward Moore move over! The South has risen again--this time as a brilliantly illuminated black utopia. Terry Bisson’s novel touched my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and kept me thinking about it for days after finishing the book. It’s an astonishing feat of rewriting history into something truly wonderful.”
—Edward Bryant, coauthor of Phoenix Without Ashes and winner of two Nebula awards for short stories Stone, and gIANTS.
“Few works have moved me as deeply, as thoroughly, as Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain… With this single poignant story, Bisson molds a world as sweet as banana cream pies, and as briny as hot tears."
—Mumia Abu-Jamal, political prisoner and author of Live From Death Row, from the Introduction.
Author: Nick Mamatas
Publisher: PM Press (Spectacular Fiction Series)
Published May 2011
Size: 8 by 5
Length: 208 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction
Love. Politics. Parasitic manipulation. Julia Hernandez left her husband, shot a real-estate developer out to gentrify Brooklyn, and then vanished without a trace. Well, perhaps one or two traces were left... With different personal and consumption habits, Julia has slipped out of the world she knew and into the Simulacrum—a place between the cracks of our existence from which human history is both guided and thwarted by the conflict between a species of anarchist wasp and a collective of hyperintelligent spider. When Julia's ex-husband Raymond spots her in a grocery store he doesn't usually patronize, he's drawn into an underworld of radical political gestures and Internet organizing looking to overthrow a ruling class it knows nothing about—and Julia is the new media sensation of both this world and the Simulacrum.
Told ultimately from the collective point of view of another species, Sensation plays with the elements of the Simulacrum we all already live in: media reports, businessspeak, blog entries, text messages, psychological evaluation forms, and the always fraught and kindly lies lovers tell one another.
“Nick Mamatas continues his reign as the sharpest, funniest, most insightful and political purveyor of post-pulp pleasures going. He is the People's Commissar of Awesome.”—China Miéville, award-winning author of Kraken and The City and the City
"Nick Mamatas’ brilliant comic novel, Sensation, reads like an incantation that both vilifies and celebrates the complex absurdity of the modern world."—Lucius Shepard, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.
"The Majestic Plural, or Royal We, is well known—Sensation introduces the Arachnid Plural, the we of spiders, the ones that live inside you. The spiders care about you—deeply—and want to use you in a millennial war against certain parasitic wasps. No, I was wrong. The spiders only want to help. So let them in."—Zachary Mason, the New York Times best-selling author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey
Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History
Author: Diana Block
Publisher: PM Press/Spectacular Fiction
Page count: 256
A radical activist, Luba Gold, makes the difficult decision to go underground to support the Puerto Rican independence movement. When Luba’s collective is targeted by an FBI sting, she escapes with her baby but leaves behind a sensitive envelope that is being safeguarded by a friend. When the FBI come looking for Luba, the friend must decide whether to cooperate in the search for the woman she loves. Ten years later, when Luba emerges from clandestinity, she discovers that the FBI sting was orchestrated by another activist friend who had become an FBI informant. In the changed era of the 1990s, Luba must decide whether to forgive the woman who betrayed her.
Told from the points of view of five different women who cross paths with Luba over four decades, Clandestine Occupations explores the difficult decisions that activists confront about the boundaries of legality and speculates about the scope of clandestine action in the future. It is a thought-provoking reflection on the risks and sacrifices of political activism as well as the damaging reverberations of disaffection and cynicism.
“Clandestine Occupations is a triumph of passion and force. A number of memoirs and other nonfiction works by revolutionaries from the 1970s and ‘80s, including one by Block herself, have given us partial pictures of what a committed life, sometimes lived underground, was like. But there are times when only fiction can really take us there. A marvelous novel that moves beyond all preconceived categories.”
—Margaret Randall, author of Che on My Mind
“Diana Block creates a vivid and engaging tapestry of how political passion interweaves with the intricacies of personal relationships. Clandestine Occupations takes us into the thoughts and feelings of six different women as each, in her own way, grapples with choices about how to live and act in a world rife with oppression but also brightened by rays of humanity and hope.”
—David Gilbert, political prisoner, author of Love and Struggle
“Through this fascinating novel, Diana Block brings to life stories about radical history that will educate and engage today’s activists. Her portrayal of a woman in solitary confinement rings true to experience, offering a raw view of the struggle for resilience under daunting circumstances. Through flights of imagination, the novel gives us hope for political transformations in the future.”
—Sarah Shourd, author of A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran
“Diana Block once again challenges our understanding of the ethical essence of revolution. Beyond political theory and practice, the moral dilemmas and turmoils are constant and consistent. Where does your loyalty lie, how does your dedication confront obstacles? These are the questions found in these pages as Diana searches for a just balance in human relationships and politics. Clandestine Occupations captures and occupies the heart and spirit, teaching us what it means to be genuine and sincere in revolutionary life and love.”
—Jalil Muntaqim, political prisoner, author We Are Our Own Liberators: Selected Prison Writings
Damnificados is loosely based on the real-life occupation of a half-completed skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, the Tower of David. In this fictional version, six hundred “damnificados”—vagabonds and misfits—take over an abandoned urban tower and set up a community complete with schools, stores, beauty salons, bakeries, and a ragtag defensive militia. Their always heroic (and often hilarious) struggle for survival and dignity pits them against corrupt police, the brutal military, and the tyrannical “owners.”
Taking place in an unnamed country at an unspecified time, the novel has elements of magical realism: avenging wolves, biblical floods, massacres involving multilingual ghosts, arrow showers falling to the tune of Beethoven’s Ninth, and a trash truck acting as a Trojan horse. The ghosts and miracles woven into the narrative are part of a richly imagined world in which the laws of nature are constantly stretched and the past is always present.
“Should be read by every politician and rich bastard and then force-fed to them—literally, page by page.”
—Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Place to Stand
“Two-headed beasts, biblical floods, dragonflies to the rescue—magical realism threads through this authentic and compelling struggle of men and women—the damnificados—to make a home for themselves against all odds. Into this modern, urban, politically familiar landscape of the ‘have-nots’ versus the ‘haves,’ Amaworo Wilson introduces archetypes of hope and redemption that are also deeply familiar—true love, vision quests, the hero’s journey, even the remote possibility of a happy ending. These characters, this place, this dream will stay with you long after you’ve put this book down.”
—Sharman Apt Russell, author of Hunger
“Only a rare and special talent can take contemporary realities—sad, joyful, infuriating, inspiring—and spin them into legend. In a narrative rich in danger, adventure, humor, romance, and risk, JJ Amaworo Wilson raises essential questions without succumbing to earnestness or didacticism.”
—Diane Lefer, author of Confessions of a Carnivore
Julia is an American medical doctor fleeing her own privileged background to find satisfaction delivering health care to African communities, where her skills really make a difference. Carl is also an American, whose experiences as a black man in the United States have led him to volunteer in Africa.
The two come together as colleagues (and lovers) as Liberia is gripped in a brutal civil war. Then Julia is kidnapped by child soldiers on a remote jungle road, and Carl is “rescued” and evacuated against his will by U.S. Marines. Back in the U.S., Carl turns to a Rhode Island doctor who has been a mentor to them both. With the help of a smuggler, they return to Africa illegally and begin the dangerous work of finding and rescuing Julia. This is an unforgettable thriller grounded in real events.
A short preface and several appendices add background on Liberia’s complex U.S.-linked history, and a glossary illuminates Liberia’s colorful Kreyol patois.
“Much like Norman Maclean’s later-in-life masterpiece, A River Runs through It, Michael Fine’s Abundance, written after a distinguished career of medical practice here in the U.S. and in Africa, is a powerful first novel, an epic stretching from the civil wars of Liberia to the streets of Rhode Island. It’s about the violence we practice on each other and the power of humanity to overcome it. A joy to read.”
—Paul J. Stekler, Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker
“Michael Fine is one of the true heroes of primary care over several decades.”
—Dr. Doug Henley, CEO and executive vice president of the American Academy of Family Physicians
“As Rhode Island’s director of health, Dr. Fine brought a vision of a humane, local, integrated health care system that focused as much on health as on disease and treatment.”
—U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
“Abundance, is a riveting, suspenseful tale of love, violence, adventure, idealism, sometimes-comic cynicism, class conflict and crime—especially war crimes. Dr. Fine expertly moves his narrative back and forth between Liberia and America (mostly New England), using his medical experience—especially in serving the poor—psychological insight, and deep knowledge of West Africa to craft a story that displays both the deep disconnect between the First and Third Worlds and our commonalities. I should add that the rescue mission that’s at the heart of the story would make one hell of a movie.”
—Robert Whitcomb, former finance editor of the International Herald Tribune and former editorial page editor of The Providence Journal
The Road through San Judas
Author: Robert Fraga
Publisher: PM Press/Spectacular Fiction
Page count: 224
Perched on a dry desert mesa, San Judas is a home of last resort for landless peasants who build makeshift homes and a vibrant community on “worthless” land that no one else wants. Or so it seems. Until suddenly, and tragically, everyone wants it for their own. The Road through San Judas chronicles from the inside the colorful characters struggling to save their village from NAFTA regulations, local Juárez developers, terrifying drug cartels, violent cholo gangs, and corrupt politicians on both sides of the border.
All those interested in the culture and contradictions of modern Mexico—including activists involved in struggles for land, democracy, and justice under international capitalism—will delight in this novel’s revolutionary humor and compassion.
A math teacher, activist, and writer, Robert Fraga was working as a volunteer in northern Mexico, when he learned of—and joined in—a struggle between the landless Mexican farmers and a wealthy Juárez family who wanted their land. He immortalized their struggle in this book.
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