God's Debris: A Thought Experiment


Scott Adams - 2016
    Adams describes God's Debris as a thought experiment wrapped in a story. It's designed to make your brain spin around inside your skull. Imagine that you meet a very old man who you eventually realize knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life: quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light psychic phenomenon, and probability in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything? You may not find the final answer to the big question, but God's Debris might provide the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what's wrong with the old man's explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends, then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.

Mr g: A Novel About The Creation


Alan Lightman - 1998
    Barraged by the constant advisements and bickerings of Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, who live with their nephew in the shimmering Void, Mr g proceeds to create time, space, and matter. Then come stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent beings with moral dilemmas. Mr g is all powerful but not all knowing and does much of his invention by trial and error.Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Mr g discovers that with his creation of space and time come some unforeseen consequences—especially in the form of the mysterious Belhor, a clever and devious rival. An intellectual equal to Mr g, Belhor delights in provoking him: Belhor demands an explanation for the inexplicable, requests that the newly created intelligent creatures not be subject to rational laws, and maintains the necessity of evil. As Mr g watches his favorite universe grow into maturity, he begins to understand how the act of creation can change himself, the Creator.With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.

The Visible Man


Chuck Klosterman - 2011
    As he slowly reveals himself, Vick becomes convinced that he suffers from a complex set of delusions: Y__, as she refers to him, claims to be a scientist who has stolen cloaking technology from an aborted government project in order to render himself nearly invisible. He says he uses this ability to observe random individuals within their daily lives, usually when they are alone and vulnerable. Unsure of his motives or honesty, Vick becomes obsessed with her patient and the disclosure of his increasingly bizarre and disturbing tales. Over time, it threatens her career, her marriage, and her own identity.Interspersed with notes, correspondence, and transcriptions that catalog a relationship based on curiosity and fear, The Visible Man touches on all of Chuck Klosterman’s favorite themes—the consequence of culture, the influence of media, the complexity of voyeurism, and the existential contradiction of normalcy. Is this comedy, criticism, or horror? Not even Y__ seems to know for sure.

Stories of Your Life and Others


Ted Chiang - 2010
    Subsequent stories have won the Asimov's SF Magazine reader poll, a second Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Sidewise Award for alternate history. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992. Story for story, he is the most honored young writer in modern SF.Now, collected here for the first time are all seven of this extraordinary writer's stories so far-plus an eighth story written especially for this volume.What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven's other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men


David Foster Wallace - 1997
    Venturing inside minds and landscapes that are at once recognisable and utterly strange, these stories reaffirm Wallace's reputation as one of his generation's pre-eminent talents, expanding our ides and pleasures fiction can afford.Among the stories are 'The Depressed Person', a dazzling and blackly humorous portrayal of a woman's mental state; 'Adult World', which reveals a woman's agonised consideration of her confusing sexual relationship with her husband; and 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men', a dark, hilarious series of portraits of men whose fear of women renders them grotesque. Wallace's stories present a world where the bizarre and the banal are interwoven and where hideous men appear in many different guises. Thought-provoking and playful, this collection confirms David Foster Wallace as one of the most imaginative young writers around. Wallace delights in leftfield observation, mining the ironic, the surprising and the illuminating from every situation. His new collection will delight his growing number of fans, and provide a perfect introduction for new readers.

Bark


Lorrie Moore - 2014
    In "Debarking," a newly divorced man tries to keep his wits about him as the United States prepares to invade Iraq, and against this ominous moment, we see - in all its irresistible wit and darkness - the perils of divorce and what can follow in its wake.In "Foes," a political argument goes grotesquely awry as the events of 9/11 unexpectedly manifest themselves at a fund-raising dinner in Georgetown ... In "The Juniper Tree," a teacher visited by the ghost of her recently deceased friend is forced to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in a kind of nightmare reunion ... And in "Wings," we watch the inevitable unraveling of two once-hopeful musicians, neither of whom held fast to their dreams nor struck out along other paths, as Moore deftly depicts the intricacies of dead-ends-ville and the workings of regret… Here are people beset, burdened, buoyed; protected by raising teenage children; dating after divorce; facing the serious illness of a longtime friend; setting forth on a romantic assignation abroad, having it interrupted mid-trip, and coming to understand the larger ramifications and the impossibility of the connection... stories that show people coping with large dislocation in their lives, with risking a new path to answer the desire to be in relation - to someone... Gimlet-eyed social observation, the public and private absurdities of American life, dramatic irony, and enduring half-cracked love wend their way through each of these narratives in a heartrending mash-up of the tragic and the laugh-out-loud - the hallmark of life in Lorrie-Moore-land.

Cosmicomics


Italo Calvino - 1965
    He makes his characters out of mathematical formulae and simple cellular structures. They disport themselves among galaxies, experience the solidification of planets, move from aquatic to terrestrial existence, play games with hydrogen atoms, and even have a love life.During the course of these stories Calvino toys with continuous creation, the transformation of matter, and the expanding and contracting reaches of space and time. He succeeds in relating complex scientific concepts to the ordinary reactions of common humanity.William Weaver's excellent translation won a National Book Award (1969).“Naturally, we were all there," old Qfwfq said, "where else could we have been? Nobody knew then that there could be space. Or time either: what use did we have for time, packed in there like sardines?”

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die


Ryan North - 2010
    It didn't give you the date and it didn't give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words DROWNED or CANCER or OLD AGE or CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. It let people know how they were going to die." Machine of Death tells thirty-four different stories about people who know how they will die. Prepare to have your tears jerked, your spine tingled, your funny bone tickled, your mind blown, your pulse quickened, or your heart warmed. Or better yet, simply prepare to be surprised. Because even when people do have perfect knowledge of the future, there's no telling exactly how things will turn out. Featuring stories by: * Randall Munroe* Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw* Tom Francis* Camille Alexa* Erin McKean* James L. Sutter* Douglas J. Lane* and many others.Featuring illustrations by: * Kate Beaton* Kazu Kibuishi* Aaron Diaz* Jeffrey Brown* Scott C.* Roger Langridge* Karl Kerschl* Cameron Stewart* and many others

The Celestine Prophecy


James Redfield - 1993
    Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your own life right now...and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come!A book that has been passed from hand to hand, from friend to friend, since it first appeared in small bookshops across America, The Celestine Prophecy is a work that has come to light at a time when the world deeply needs to read its words. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life...and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimism as you head into tomorrow.

Uncommon Type


Tom Hanks - 2017
    A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game--and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN's newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

The Sparrow


Mary Doria Russell - 1996
    While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question what it means to be "human".

The Dark Tower and Other Stories


C.S. Lewis - 2002
    Elwin Ransom after the events of Out of the Silent Planet, the first novel is Lewis’s Space Trilogy. In Orfieu’s office at Cambridge University, five men gather to witness the breach of space-time through the chronoscope, a telescope that looks not just into another world, but into another time. Also included are "After Ten Years," Lewis’s retelling of Menelaus’s battle for Helen, "The Man Born Blind," the story of a man who after gaining sight for the first time in his life learns about the relative nature of reality, and three other short stories. A necessary anthology for fans of futuristic fiction, this collection cements Lewis’s place in the science fiction canon. “A superb storyteller.” –Anthony Burgess

The Illumination


Kevin Brockmeier - 2011
    I love the soft blue veins on your wrist. I love your lopsided smile. I love watching TV and shelling sunflower seeds with you. The six recipients - a data analyst, a photojour­nalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor - inhabit an acutely observed, beauti­fully familiar yet particularly strange universe, as only Kevin Brockmeier could imagine it: a world in which human pain is expressed as illumination, so that one's wounds glitter, fluoresce, and blaze with light. As we follow the journey of the book from stranger to stranger, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human in­jury and experience.

The Interrogative Mood


Padgett Powell - 2009
    Did they?) it might look something like this remarkable little book of Padgett Powell’s.”—Richard FordThe Interrogative Mood is a wildly inventive, jazzy meditation on life and language by the novelist that Ian Frazier hails as “one of the best writers in America, and one of the funniest, too.” A novel composed entirely of questions, it is perhaps the most audacious literary high-wire act since Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine or David Foster Wallace’s stories; a playful and profound book that, as Jonathan Safran Foer says, “will sear the unlucky volumes shelved on either side of it. How it doesn’t, itself, combust in flames is a mystery to me.”

In Persuasion Nation


George Saunders - 2006
    "The Red Bow,"about a town consumed by pet-killing hysteria, won a 2004 National Magazine Award and "Bohemians," the story of two supposed Eastern European widows trying to fit in in suburban USA, is included in The Best American Short Stories 2005. His new book includes both unpublished work, and stories that first appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and Esquire. The stories in this volume work together as a whole whose impact far exceeds the simple sum of its parts. Fans of Saunders know and love him for his sharp and hilarious satirical eye. But In Persuasion Nation also includes more personal and poignant pieces that reveal a new kind of emotional conviction in Saunders's writing.Saunders's work in the last six years has come to be recognized as one of the strongest-and most consoling-cries in the wilderness of the millennium's political and cultural malaise. In Persuasion Nation's sophistication and populism should establish Saunders once and for all as this generation's literary voice of wisdom and humor in a time when we need it most.