conceptual fiction
Exploring the Non-Realist Tradition in Fiction
WEEK 1
Dracula
by Bram Stoker
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Experimental works of mystery & suspense

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This is my year of horrible reading.
I am reading the classics of horror fiction
during the course of 2016, and each week will
write about a significant work in the genre.
You are invited to join me in my
annus
horribilis
. By the close of the year—if we
survive—we will have tackled zombies, serial
killers, ghosts, demons, vampires, and
monsters of all denominations. Check back
each week for a new title...but remember to
bring along garlic, silver bullets and a
protective amulet.  
Ted Gioia
WEEK 2
The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
Bram Stoker had colorful
stories ready for those who
asked about the origins of his
novel
Dracula. By one
account...
For more, click
here
Is the ghost story the oldest
literary type? Almost every
culture possesses myths
about interactions between
the living and the dead...
For
more, click here
Check back each week for a new work
WEEK 3
Tales of Mystery & Imagination
by Edgar Allan Poe
How influential is Edgar
Allan Poe. Let's Look at the
numbers. The detective
story, a category virtually
invented by Poe...
For
more, click here
WEEK 4
Carrie
by Stephen King
Stephen King launched his
literary career on April 5,
1974 with little
fanfare. Doubleday had
printed 30,000 copies...
For
more, click here
To purchase, click on image
WEEK 5
The Passion According to G.H.
by Clarice Lispector
Not even Kafka managed
to find so much revelation
in the physiology of a
cockroach...
For more,
click here
WEEK 6
Tales
by H.P. Lovecraft
When I visit the gym to
workout, I routinely wear a
sweatshirt emblazoned with
the insignia of Miskatonic
Univeristy...
For more,
click here
WEEK 7
The Exorcist
by William Peter Blatty
The rite of exorcism is not
one of the seven official
sacraments of the Catholic
faith. Church leaders don’t
discuss it very often...
For
more, click here
WEEK 8
The Woman In Black
by Susan Hill
WEEK 9
Nausea
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre’s horror required
no monsters or gloomy
European castles. Even so,
the terror of his story was all
the more pernicious...
For
more, click here
WEEK 10
I Am Legend
by Richard Matheson
Susan Hill writes about
curses and misfortunes, but
her own career seemed
charmed almost from the
outset. How many
authors...
For more, click
here
When the Horror Writers
of America decided to pick
the "Vampire Book of the
Century," they bypassed
recent bestsellers in favor
of Matheson's classic ...
For
more, click here
WEEK 11
Ghost Stories of Henry James
by Henry James
Critics have read these
stories as accounts of
hallucinations, case studies
in Freudian neuroses or
exercises in postmodern
multivalent narrative....
For more click here
WEEK 12
Interview with the Vampire
by Anne Rice
Why shouldn't monsters
get a chance to tell their
side of the story. In the
1960s and 1970s they
started to do just that...
For more click here
WEEK 13
American Psycho
by Bret Easton Ellis
I gathered the tools needed
for my 'reading': a DeWalt
hammer, assorted nails, a
bottle of sulfuric acid, a
torch lighter...
For more
click here
WEEK 14
Last Stories and Other Stories
by William T. Vollmann
Do you know what the name
Vollmann means? It
translate roughly as "man of
many people." That a clue,
my friends....
For more,
click here
WEEK 15
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
by M.R. James
Long before Indiana Jones
and Lara Croft, M.R. James
built his storytelling around
adventurous antiquarians
....
For more, click here
WEEK 16
Rosemary's Baby
by Ira Levin
Something strange occurred
in horror fiction after the
rise of secularism. The
Devil started showing up in
bestselling novels....
For
more, click here
WEEK 17
The King in Yellow
by Robert W. Chalmers
At his best, Robert W.
Chambers anticipates
Borges, Calvino & Nabokov.
But he was rarely at his
best.....
For more, click
here
WEEK 18
Rebecca
by Daphne du Maurier
Considered a lowbrow
romance when it was
first published,
Rebecca
has belatedly gained
recognition as a Gothic
suspense masterpiece.....
For more, click here
WEEK 19
The Woman in the Dunes
by Kōbō Abe
What is the meaning of
this strange 1962 novel
about a man trapped in
a village of sand...
For more, click here
WEEK 20
The Dark Eidolon
by Clark Ashton Smith
In his day, he was the
'Keats of the Pacific
Coast' and the 'Lovecraft
of the Far West'....
For
more, click here
No, this isn't storytelling,
just torture -- and I'm
talking now merely of the
reading experience....
For
more, click here
WEEK 21
Off Season
by Jack Ketchum
WEEK 22
Books of Blood, Vol. 1-3
by Clive Barker
Clive Barker reminds me
of those battlefield generals
determined to win at all
costs. Maybe a Patton, also
known as Old Blood and
Guts...
For more, click here
WEEK 23
The Silence of the Lambs
by Thomas Harris
When David Foster Wallace
published a list of his ten
favorite novels, shortly
before his death, one author
had two slots on it. Guess
who?...
For more, click here
WEEK 24
The Orange Eats Creeps
by Grace Krilanovich
Perhaps this book is poetry.
But even poetry has an
obligation to refer to...
well, to
something, no?...
For more, click here
WEEK 25
Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson
How did author Robert
Louis Stevenson view his
protagonist's double
character?...
For more,
click here
WEEK 26
Psycho
by Robert Bloch
"I really have the heart of
a small boy," Robert Bloch
insisted.  "I keep it in a jar
on my desk."...
For more,
click here
WEEK 27
Fledgling
by Octavia E. Butler
Octavia Butler doesn't respect
boundaries. At least not the
boundaries between fiction
genres...
For more, click
here
WEEK 28
Demons by Daylight
by Ramsey Campbell
In this breakthrough 1973
book, Ramsey Campbell shifted
allegiances from Lovecraft
to Nabokov...
For more, click
here
WEEK 29
The Complete Short Stories
by Ambrose Bierce
Bierce created a different
kind of ghost stories, in
which the horror resides
outdoors in the wide open
spaces...
For more, click
here
WEEK 30
Pet Sematary
by Stephen King
Stephen King described
Pet Sematary as "the most
frightening book I've
written..
For more, click
here
WEEK 31
Our Lady of Darkness
by Fritz Leiber
Decades before Murakami
and Gaiman mixed malevolent
magic with urban landscapes,
Leiber showed the way with
Our Lady of Darkness...For
more, click here
Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at
www.twitter.com/tedgioia

Conceptual Fiction:
A Reading List
(with links to essays on each work)

Home Page

Abbott, Edwin A.
Flatland

Adams, Douglas
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Aldiss, Brian
Barefoot in the Head

Aldiss, Brian
Hothouse

Aldiss, Brian
Report on Probability A

Allende, Isabel
The House of the Spirits

Amado, Jorge
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands

Amis, Martin
Time's Arrow

Apuleius
The Golden Ass

Asimov, Isaac
The Foundation Trilogy

Asimov, Isaac
I, Robot

Atwood, Margaret
The Blind Assassin

Atwood, Margaret
The Handmaid's Tale

Banks, Iain M.
The State of the Art

Ballard, J.G.
The Atrocity Exhibition

Ballard, J.G.
Crash

Ballard, J.G.
The Crystal World

Ballard, J.G.
The Drowned World

Barker, Clive
Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3

Barth, John
Giles Goat-Boy

Bester, Alfred
The Demolished Man

Bierce, Ambrose
The Complete Short Stories

Blish, James
A Case of Conscience

Borges, Jorge Luis
Ficciones

Bradbury, Ray
Dandelion Wine

Bradbury, Ray
Fahrenheit 451

Bradbury, Ray
The Illustrated Man

Bradbury, Ray
The Martian Chronicles

Bradbury, Ray
Something Wicked This Way Comes

Brockmeier, Kevin
The View from the Seventh Layer

Bulgakov, Mikhail
The Master and Margarita

Bunch, David R.
Moderan

Burgess, Anthony
A Clockwork Orange

Butler, Octavia E.
Fledgling

Campbell, Ramsey
Demons by Daylight

Card, Orson Scott
Ender's Game

Carpentier, Alejo
The Kingdom of This World

Carroll, Lewis
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Chabon, Michael
The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Chambers, Robert W.
The King in Yellow

Chiang, Ted
Stories of Your Life and Others

Clarke, Arthur C.
Childhood's End

Clarke, Arthur C.
A Fall of Moondust

Clarke, Arthur C.
2001: A Space Odyssey

Clarke, Susanna
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Crowley, John
Little, Big

Danielewski, Mark Z.
The Fifty Year Sword

Danielewski, Mark Z.
House of Leaves

Davies, Robertson
Fifth Business

Delany, Samuel R.
Babel-17

Delany, Samuel R.
Dhalgren

Delany, Samuel R.
The Einstein Intersection

Delany, Samuel R.
Nova

Dick, Philip K.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Dick, Philip K.
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

Dick, Philip K.
The Man in the High Castle

Dick, Philip K.
Ubik

Dick, Philip K.
VALIS

Disch, Thomas M.
Camp Concentration

Disch, Thomas M.
The Genocides

Doctorow, Cory
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Donoso, José
The Obscene Bird of Night

Ellison, Harlan (editor)
Dangerous Visions

Ellison, Harlan
I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream

Esquivel, Laura
Like Water for Chocolate

Farmer, Philip José
To Your Scattered Bodies Go

Fowles, John
A Maggot

Fuentes, Carlos
Aura

Gaiman, Neil
American Gods

Gaiman, Neil
Neverwhere

Gibson, William
Burning Chrome

Gibson, William
Neuromancer

Grass, Günter
The Tin Drum

Greene, Graham
The End of the Affair

Grossman, Lev
The Magicians

Haldeman, Joe
The Forever War

Hall, Steven
The Raw Shark Texts

Harrison, M. John
The Centauri Device

Harrison, M. John
Light

Heinlein, Robert
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Heinlein, Robert:
Stranger in a Strange Land

Heinlein, Robert
Time Enough for Love

Helprin, Mark
Winter's Tale

Herbert, Frank
Dune

Hill, Susan
The Woman in Black

Hoffman, Alice
Practical Magic

Houellebecq, Michel
Submission

Huxley, Aldous
Brave New World

Jackson, Shirley
The Haunting of Hill House

James, Henry
The Turn of the Screw

James, M.R.
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

Keret, Etgar
Suddenly, A Knock at the Door

Ketchum, Jack
Off Season

Keyes, Daniel
Flowers for Algernon

King, Stephen
Carrie

King, Stephen
Pet Sematary

Krilanovich, Grace
The Orange Eats Creeps

Kundera, Milan
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Kunzru, Hari
Gods Without Men

Lafferty, R.A.
Nine Hundred Grandmothers

Le Guin, Ursula K.
The Dispossessed

Le Guin, Ursula K.
The Lathe of Heaven

Le Guin, Ursula K.
The Left Hand of Darkness

Leiber, Fritz
The Big Time

Leiber, Fritz
Conjure Wife

Leiber, Fritz
Our Lady of Darkness

Leiber, Fritz
Swords & Deviltry

Leiber, Fritz
The Wanderer

Lem, Stanislaw
His Master's Voice

Lem, Stanislaw
Solaris

Lethem, Jonathan
The Fortress of Solitude

Levin, Ira
Rosemary's Baby

Lewis, C. S.
The Chronicles of Narnia

Link, Kelly
Magic for Beginners

Lovecraft, H.P.
Tales

Malzberg, Barry N.
Herovit's World

Mandel, Emily St. John
Station Eleven

Mann, Thomas
Doctor Faustus

Márquez, Gabriel García
100 Years of Solitude

Markson, David
Wittgenstein's Mistress

Matheson, Richard
Hell House

Matheson, Richard
I Am Legend

Matheson, Richard
What Dreams May Come

McCarthy, Cormac
The Road

Miéville, China
Perdido Street Station

Miller, Jr., Walter M.
A Canticle for Leibowitz

Millhauser, Steven
Dangerous Laughter

Mitchell, David
Cloud Atlas

Moorcock, Michael
Behold the Man

Moorcock, Michael
The Final Programme

Morrison, Toni
Beloved

Murakami, Haruki
1Q84

Murakami, Haruki
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the
End of the World

Nabokov, Vladimir
Ada, or Ardor

Niffenegger, Audrey
The Time Traveler's Wife

Niven, Larry
Ringworld

Noon, Jeff
Vurt

Obreht, Téa
The Tiger's Wife

O'Brien, Flann
At Swim-Two-Birds

Okri, Ben
The Famished Road

Percy, Walker
Love in the Ruins

Poe, Edgar Allan
Tales of Mystery & Imagination

Pohl, Frederik
Gateway

Pratchett, Terry
The Color of Magic

Pynchon, Thomas
Gravity's Rainbow

Rabelais, François
Gargantua and Pantagruel

Rice, Anne
Interview with the Vampire

Robinson, Kim Stanley
Red Mars

Rowling, J.K.
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone

Rushdie, Salman
Midnight's Children

Russ, Joanna
The Female Man

Saramago, José
Blindness

Sheckley, Robert
Dimension of Miracles

Sheckley, Robert
Mindswap

Sheckley, Robert
Store of the Worlds

Shelley, Mary
Frankenstein

Silverberg, Robert
Dying  Inside

Silverberg, Robert
Nightwings

Silverberg, Robert
The World Inside

Simak, Clifford
City

Simak, Clifford
The Trouble with Tycho

Smith, Clark Ashton
The Dark Eidolon

Smith, Cordwainer
Norstrilia

Smith, Cordwainer
The Rediscovery of Man

Stephenson, Neal
Snow Crash

Spinrad, Norman
Bug Jack Barron

Stevenson, Robert Louis
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Stoker, Bram
Dracula

Stross, Charles
Glasshouse

Sturgeon, Theodore
More Than Human

Sturgeon, Theodore
Some of Your Blood

Swift, Jonathan
Gulliver's Travels

Thomas, D.M.
The White Hotel

Tiptree, Jr., James
Warm Worlds and Otherwise

Tolkien, J.R.R.
The Hobbit

Updike, John
The Witches of Eastwick

Van Vogt, A.E.
The Mixed Men

Van Vogt, A.E.
Slan

Van Vogt, A.E.
The Voyage of the Space Beagle

Van Vogt, A.E.
The World of Null A

Vance, Jack
The Dragon Masters

Vance, Jack
Emphyrio

Vance, Jack
The Languages of Pao

Verne, Jules
Around the Moon

Verne, Jules
From the Earth to the Moon

Verne, Jules:
Journey to the Center of the Earth

Vollmann, William T
Last Stories and Other Stories

Vonnegut, Kurt
Cat's Cradle

Vonnegut, Kurt
The Sirens of Titan

Vonnegut, Kurt
Slaughterhouse-Five

Wallace, David Foster
Infinite Jest

Walpole, Horace
Hieroglyphic Tales

Wells, H.G.
The First Men in the Moon

Wells, H.G.
The Island of Dr. Moreau

Wells, H.G.
The Time Machine

Wilson, Robert Anton & Robert Shea
The Illuminatus! Trilogy

Winton, Tim
Cloudstreet

Woolf, Virginia
Orlando

Zabor, Rafi
The Bear Comes Home

Zelazny, Roger
Lord of Light

Zelazny, Roger
This Immortal


Special Features

Notes on Conceptual Fiction
My Year of Horrible Reading
When Science Fiction Grew Up
Ray Bradbury: A Tribute
The Year of Magical Reading
Remembering Fritz Leiber
A Tribute to Richard Matheson
Samuel Delany's 70th birthday
The Sci-Fi of Kurt Vonnegut
The Most Secretive Sci-Fi Author
Curse You, Neil Armstrong!
Robert Heinlein at 100
A.E, van Vogt Tribute
The Puzzling Case of Robert Sheckley
The Avant-Garde Sci-Fi of Brian Aldiss
Science Fiction 1958-1975: A Reading List



Links to related sites

The New Canon
Great Books Guide
Postmodern Mystery
Fractious Fiction
Ted Gioia's web site
Ted Gioia on Twitter

_____


SF Site
io9
Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
Los Angeles Review of Books
The Millions
Big Dumb Object
SF Novelists
More Words, Deeper Hole
The Misread City
Reviews and Responses
SF Signal
True Science Fiction
Tor blog


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WEEK 32
Grendel
by John Gardner
He was the first monster in
the English language, but
where is his movie franchise?  
Where are his licensing deals?
You can't even find a lousy
Grendel T-shirt...
For more,
click here.
WEEK 33
White is for Witching
by Helen Oyeymi
What could be scarier than
a ghost story where you
can’t escape…because you
are the ghost?
...For more,
click here.
WEEK 34
The Wasp Factory
by Iain Banks
"It’s a sick, sick world
when the confidence and
investment of an astute
firm of publishers is
justified by a work of
unparalleled depravity."
...For more, click here.
WEEK 35
King Kong
by Edgar Wallace
How far the mighty have
fallen. Not just King Kong,
but also its creator Edgar
Wallace
...For more, click here.