We're reading Catch-22 for February, but it's time to look ahead... and behind. For March's Book Club, I'm going with two very old and two very recent selections, all of them widely acclaimed and half of them from our forums. In a change from last month, we're going to close earlier to give people some time to get the book: please make your selection by Friday, February 22nd at 11:55pm EST.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Published in 2012, this was one of our gift guide recommendations — we called it "a thoughtful look at the magical side of our technological present, and the deep resonances of our long-forgotten past" and "a book with a soul." Plot-wise, it involves a former web designer who begins work at the titular 24-hour bookstore, a mysterious place with few customers and many secrets. It looks fantastic.
The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells
Doctor Moreau has been parodied and referenced so many times that even if you've never heard of the book, you'll probably recognize the premise. Exploring morality and the fluid line between man and animal (and a doctor who blurred it with surgery), it's partly a response to anxiety about Darwin's theory of evolution and a corresponding fear that "degenerate" humans could revert to a bestial nature.
Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot
Currently shortlisted for the 2012 Philip K. Dick Award, I've heard this is another current must-read: a surreal and funny amalgamation of celebrity clones, a biological internet, the apocalypse, and a million more weird extrapolations drawn from our collective fears. Author Boudinot, likewise, has been compared to everyone from Douglas Adams to William S. Burroughs to Haruki Murakami.
At the Mountains of Madness: And other Tales of Terror by H.P. Lovecraft
Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos need no introduction, but picking a good single collection from his body of work isn't easy. I'm going with At The Mountains of Madness: And other Tales of Terror, a 1991 anthology that includes the title novella, horror story "The Shunned House," "Dreams in the Witch House," and "The Statement of Randolph Carter."