What to Read When You Want to Explore Another World

Amanda Bakale invites us to join her adventures in immersive fantasy and weird science fiction.

I’ve always had a soft spot for immersive fantasy and weird science fiction and anything that smacks of magical realism. And during this pandemic moment, I am taking a deep dive into a couple master writers in speculative fiction that I have never read before: N.K. Jemisin and Ursula Le Guin.

I devoured N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy. Staying up way too late way too often because I just couldn’t leave her world of volcanic ash, survival, and the complicated love and hate of a mother and daughter more alike than either realizes. Jemisin is a gifted world builder and world destroyer in the most achingly beautiful way.

And I know I’m late to the party by only now reading Ursula Le Guin who reached her peak in the 70s and 80s, but it’s better late than never. The least that can be said of Le Guin is that she did the whole young boy wizard at wizarding school before (and better than, some have argued) that British author did. Best introduction to Le Guin: Watch PBS American Masters doc on her, then read The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas. And then go read N.K. Jemisin’s response: The Ones Who Stay and Fight.

Read more of our writers’ recomendations:

These are atypical times, and we thought it fitting to publish an atypical review section in this issue. Instead of our normal format, we’ve gathered some reflections from regular contributors on what’s helping them through social distancing, social upheaval, and, well, just the strange state of affairs in which we find ourselves. Music, books, TV, and film are such great helps in trying times. They help us escape to new worlds and far-off places, while also offering wisdom and insight to help us understand this sad and beautiful world. All that and more. Maybe you’ll find something here that’ll help you, too! – Brian Bork, Reviews Editor

  • Amanda is a pastor at Community CRC in Kitchener, Ont., where she has the joy of witnessing the Spirit's work in her congregation and the denomination she loves.

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