Book: A is for Alien
Author: Caitlín R. Kiernan
Type of Book: Science fiction, short story collection, erotica
Why Did I Read This Book: Because CRK is one of my favorite writers of all time, full stop.
Availability: Published by Subterranean Press in 2009, you can get a copy here:
Comments: Caitlín R. Kiernan is a writer whom I have a hard time assigning to any specific genre, though she is a writer whose work generally has some form of slipstream in it, slipstream as defined by Bruce Sterling when he said, “…this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility.” Kiernan’s prose always makes me feel strange and everything I have read from her is undeniably dark even when good prevails because there is still so much more bad out there waiting.
This collection is mostly science fiction and I am notably not a fan of the sci-fi genre, but I read this anyway because Kiernan wrote it. I’m glad I read it because only two of the stories were not to my tastes. Much “hard” science fiction eludes me for the same reason I never found A Clockwork Orange to my liking – I get too distracted by the verbiage, which is often beyond my ken, and the story gets away from me. So I am at a loss to determine if any work of hard science fiction is good or not, though I am not someone who condemns a genre just because I do not like it. Two of the stories in this collection said little to me, so I was tempted to skip reviewing it, but the point of this review site is for me to review literally everything I read that does not end up on I Read Odd Books. So no chickening out.
This collection contains eight stories, some hard science fiction, some science fiction combined with erotica, some transhumanist analyses, and plenty of dystopia to last even the most jaded of readers for a long time. I admit that I prefer CRK when she is writing works that tilt more in the vein of horror – Alabaster and Daughter of Hounds are both in my list of Top 25 Books of All Time. But her essential themes remain even when her genre differs, and that is what matters I think.