Book Recommendations 2020

So, I read 64 books in 2020, and of all the new-to-me books, I’d especially recommend two:

“Exhalation: Stories,” by Ted Chiang, is an anthology of philosophical science fiction. The most fantastic tale is a time-travel story set in medieval Baghdad, but most of the stories reflect on how technology mediates a person’s understanding of themselves, reflecting on memory, identity, family, determinism and choice. Like “Black Mirror” but not horrible?

Thousand-Year-Old Vampire,” by Tim Hutchings, is a book-length writing exercise or game that prompts you to write the necrography of a centuries-old undead monster struggling to hold on to ancient memories despite time’s ceaseless erosion. My first vampire was a Byzantine soldier from 10th-century Bithynia who fought the Bulgars with Basil II, wandered medieval Persia, tagged along with the Ottomans for the Siege of Vienna, and was finally burned at the stake in 18th-century Innsbruck. My second vampire was the daughter of a Sabine woman who lived among the Etruscans and Carthaginians for five centuries before her destruction in Sicily during the First Punic War.

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