Five Obscure Books I Recommend You Read
For my “best of” list, I decided to go out of my way to highlight some titles that readers of Locus are unlikely to have already read. For fans, it seems that their favorite authors are always underrated. Ever hear of Asimov? Gaiman? Uh, yes. Here are some authors, and books, you may not have heard of yet.
The Holy Bile by Cameron Moloney
This is a great little novella about a plot to deprive the world of Coca-Cola. It also involves terrorist actions against McDonald’s. Hilarious. It came out in the late 1990s in Australia, but I see that the author has recently Kindlefied it for the world. So go forth and consume! There’s a bit when a young child writes a letter demanding Coca-Cola that still brings tears to my eyes.
Corn & Smoke: Stories, Performances, Things by “Blaster” Al Ackerman
Ackerman, a mail artist and underground SF writer heavily influenced by Theodore Sturgeon, is likely known to at least the aging hipster slice of Locus readers. This is a collection of stories and…well, things, just like the subtitle says. If pulp fiction were as good as pulp fiction magazine covers, the magazines never would have gone out of business, and Ackerman would own a pillowcase full of Hugos and Nebulas, and probably a National Book Award as well. Very strange, and a good introduction to this original figure. It’s around.
The Consumer by M. Gira
If the previous two books had a baby, this would be the primitive unborn twin trapped within the flesh of its healthy-seeming brother, and squirming through every orifice at once in an attempt to get out. Short pieces, very dark and occasionally simply just gross, heavily Ballardian. Out of print, but easily torrentable, I suppose because of M. Gira’s role as the leader of the band Swans. Note: I don’t recommend torrenting books.
The Holiday House by Jennifer Callahan
Jennifer Callahan was a precocious self-published author of vampire fiction in the wrong decade. The Holiday House was published by Callahan’s own Vanity Press (as in the name of her little company was literally “Vanity Press”) back when angelfire.com was the queen of the web and Diaryland the apex of social media. You know, 1999. The Holiday House is a dreamy vampire novella, heavily influenced by the Goth scene of the last century and by plenty of teen angst. Not CW-ready teen angst, the real deal. Had Callahan self-published in the age of Kindle, she’d probably be a millionaire. As it stands, she seems to have vanished entirely. Are you out there Callie?
Mixtape for the Apocalypse by Jemiah Jefferson
At the risk of selling out, allow me to name a book currently in print. Jefferson is the author of several vampire novels that came out in mass-market paperback, so she probably doesn’t belong on this list, but her self-published Mixtape for the Apocalypse is unjustly obscure. It’s not a genre novel proper, but it is heavily influenced by genre, specifically end-of-the-world stories, secret histories, and the political paranoia of The X-Files or Fringe. A nerdy slacker believes—or realizes, is it?—that dark forces are at work. Published in 2011, this is also Jefferson’s love letter to the 1990s. It’s sort of like Jo Walton’s Among Others, but the population Jefferson is waving the freak flag for don’t vote for the Hugo Awards.
Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including the fantasy-noir Bullettime, and over eighty short stories. His work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Tor.com, and the anthologies Dark Faith: Invocations and Psychos.