Here are the book descriptions:
‘Kraken’ by China Miéville
With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this–or any other–year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about–or prevent–the End of All Things.
In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux–better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.
As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens–human and otherwise–are adept in magic and murder.
There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity–and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC–the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit–a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying–yet darkly charismatic–demonic duo.
All of them–and others–are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.‘Third Bear’ by Jeff VanderMeer
Compared by critics to Borges, Nabokov, and Kafka, inventive contemporary fantasist Jeff VanderMeer continues to amaze with this surreal, innovative, and absurdist gathering of award-winning short fiction. Exotic beasts and improbable travelers roam restlessly through these darkly diverting and finely-honed tales.
Highlights include “The Situation,” in which a beleaguered office worker creates a child-swallowing manta-ray to be used for educational purposes (once described as Dilbert meets Gormenghast); “Three Days in a Border Town,” where a sharpshooter seeks the truth about her husband in an elusive floating City beyond a far-future horizon; “Errata,” following an oddly-familiar writer who has marshaled a penguin, a shaman, and two pearl-handled pistols with which to plot the end of the world. Also included are two stories original to this collection, including “The Quickening,” in which a lonely child is torn between familial obligation and a wounded talking rabbit.
Chimerical and hypnotic, VanderMeer leads readers through the postmodern into a new literature of the imagination.
Here’s how to enter for your chance to win. We’re gonna make you work for this one.
Inspired by China Miéville’s Amazon post on Five Underrated Literary Cephalopods, we’re asking you to get creative…
- Leave a comment below with your best example of a previously-unpublished, G-rated description of a fictional cephalopod. (Less than 100 words.)
- Be sure to include your email address (which will not be published) so we may contact you for a mailing address in the event you should win.
- The giveaway will end Wednesday, July 21st 2010 (8:00 PM U.S Eastern time). Jeff VanderMeer himself will pick the best description as he sees it, thus declaring the winner who be notified and announced shortly thereafter.