Monday, December 12, 2022

Ten brilliant novels about communicating with extraterrestrial life

Ethan Chatagnier is the author Singer Distance, a novel just out from Tin House Books, and of Warnings from the Future, a story collection from Acre Books in 2018. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary journals including the Kenyon Review Online, Georgia Review, New England Review, Story, Five Points, Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Cincinnati Review. His stories have won a Pushcart Prize and been listed as notable in the Best American Short Stories and the Million Writers Award.

Chatagnier is a graduate of Fresno State, where he won the Larry Levis Prize in Poetry, and of Emerson College, where he earned an MA in Publishing and Writing. He lives in Fresno, California with his family.

Chatagnier's new novel is Singer Distance.

[Q&A with Ethan ChatagnierThe Page 69 Test: Singer Distance]

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten brilliant novels that allow "us to hold up a mirror to our own way of inhabiting the universe, and at the same time to consider forms of life almost beyond imagining." One title on the list:
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti starts in a familiar place for science fiction—an extraterrestrial attack—but where it goes from there sets it apart. The titular protagonist is on a starship to the prestigious Oomza Uni when an alien race, the Meduse, storm the ship and kill everyone but her. Besieged in her room, she finds that one of her belongings is a powerful artifact that lets her understand and speak with the Meduse. Rather than blast her way through the attackers, she finds herself learning about them and coming to understand their motives. We often imagine ourselves speaking with other life forms, but Binti is a testament to listening, sympathizing, and speaking up when the time comes.
Read about another entry on the list.

Binti is among Ross Johnson's top six sci-fi & fantasy novels inspired by the worlds of Africa and Joel Cunningham's fourteen SFF books or series with a powerful message of social justice.

--Marshal Zeringue