The best books to bend your mind

Who am I?

As a writer of dystopian novels, I have always been interested in narratives that challenge the reader. Why? Because I firmly believe that if literature is, as they say, "a window on the world," then mind-bending texts create their own windows, and hence allow the readers to free themselves from all sorts of conventions. What's more, many of my novels deal with a drug, "Synth," that allows the users to change their surroundings at will. So I do write some “mind-bending” stuff myself, with precisely the purpose I mentioned above. To challenge yourself through fiction is to challenge a reality you have not chosen to live in. It is not only an act of defiance, but also, very often, an act of courage. 

I wrote...

The Song of Synth

By Seb Doubinsky,

Book cover of The Song of Synth

What is my book about?

I have chosen The Song Of Synth because it is, in my eyes, the best introduction to my speculative fiction universe, also known as “the City-States Cycle.” Taking place in the imaginary metropolis Viborg City, it focuses on Marcus, an ex-hacker trapped into working for the government. Addicted to a drug called “Synth,” he comes across some information that will make him face his past and turn him into a fugitive. Dealing with issues such as control technologies, mental manipulations, the political implication of drugs, and the question of identity, I feel that The Song Of Synth is a book that could appeal to a lot of readers who are sensitive to contemporary issues.

The books I picked & why

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The Bridge

By J.S. Breukelaar,

Book cover of The Bridge

Why this book?

The Bridge is a terrific and terrifying novella about womanhood, the patriarchate, technology, identity, and, ultimately, freedom. Its theme appeals to me as I have always been an ally of the women’s cause and JS Breukelaar does a great job describing a disturbing future if we are not more careful and respectful. What’s more, it is a great story, which embarks the reader in a dark and fascinating labyrinth. Both nightmarish and poetic, with references to ancient mythologies, The Bridge offers a unique reading experience. Although it’s very different stylistically from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I nonetheless consider it to be a top-class feminist speculative fiction classic.

Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruised, and Silent Veil of This World

By Jordan Krall,

Book cover of Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruised, and Silent Veil of This World

Why this book?

Jordan Krall is, in my opinion, one of the greatest speculative fiction writers alive today. This novella takes simultaneously place in two different locations: on a spaceship on its way to Mars and in a unnamed city, both with a main character that may or may not be the same. Easy to read, but difficult to understand, Beyond is both a pleasure and a riddle, challenging the reader in the most satisfying way. Dealing with the questions of identity, metaphysical anguish, and conspiracy theories, it radically breaks apart the world as we know it.   

I Dream Of Mirrors

By Chris Kelso,

Book cover of I Dream Of Mirrors

Why this book?

In I Dream Of Mirrors, Scottish writer Chris Kelso describes a nightmarish virtual world in which a self-proclaimed prophet who turns his followers into obedient programs by erasing their memories. The two main protagonists, a nameless narrator, and his unreliable partner Kad, are rebels who want to find out the truth. I absolutely love this book, as it challenges our vision of technological progress and what we assume is our identity. Remarkably well written and with a fantastic pace, it is, in my eyes, a true underground classic, on par with William Gibson’s world-famous Neuromancer.

Claiming T-Mo

By Eugen Bacon,

Book cover of Claiming T-Mo

Why this book?

In Claiming T-Mo, Australian-African writer Eugen Bacon re-invents and shatters all the familiar codes of the magical sci-fi genre. A novel about women, magic, fate, and freedom, Claiming T-Mo is also a deep reflection on motherhood, love, masculinity, and identities. As the different female narrators share their views and feelings about T-Mo, the elusive central character, more questions about filiation and heritage unroll, making the reader a part of the quest. I love Eugen Bacon because she is an incredibly versatile talent, who turns everything she writes about into pure gold. 

Love. An Archaeology

By Fabio Fernandes,

Book cover of Love. An Archaeology

Why this book?

If, like me, you love labyrinthian books that actually lead you somewhere, then Brazilian writer Fabio Fernandes’s short story collection, Love. An Archeology, is for you. Using meta with meta on top, these loosely related stories will take you on a wild ride with androgynous characters, mysterious places, and poetic situations. As you have probably figured it by now, I love to be challenged by books and this one is one of the most rewarding reads I have experienced. Highly recommended for lovers of high-brow speculative fiction who hate when genre is taken too seriously.  

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