Jade Craddock sees beyond geekiness to a cornucopia with something for everybody.
Ask most people and one of the pleasures that derives most often from reading is that ability for a book to take the reader outside of their own world and transport them somewhere else entirely. And that is none more so true than in the realm of speculative fiction – fantasy, sci-fi, horror – so it is unsurprising that the genre seems to be going from strength to strength, with many publishers having dedicated imprints especially for this pursuit.
The nomination of Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island in this year’s Man Booker shortlist is perhaps one of the genre’s successes of 2015 for a novel that has been described as ‘Kafka for the google age’. Whilst Patrick Ness’s YA offering The Rest of Us Just Live Here has recently been longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal showing the continuing strength of speculative fiction in YA. James Rice’s compelling debut Alice and the Fly was another highlight this year, merging the teen voice of its protagonist with a darkly twisting plot that has spurred comparisons with Mark Haddon’s genre-defining work The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Finally, another debut, Catriona Ward’s Rawblood, a haunting tale of a family curse, reinvigorated the classic gothic novel, with echoes of du Maurier and Poe.
It would seem then that speculative fiction is very much alive and well and some of the breakthrough novels are beginning to get more mass market recognition, although sci-fi and some of the more traditionalist work still tend to occupy the margins. But with big-name authors like David Mitchell on board, and the raft of new writers the like of James Rice and Catriona Ward, the future looks bright. And on that note, Paraic O’Donnell’s The Maker of Swans is definitely one to watch in 2016.
– Jade Craddock, Redditch, Worcs.
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