A funny, absurd, and beatifically strange book, one in which you simultaneously have the feeling that not one word is out of place and that everything that language brings to us opens onto a void.
The Fixed Stars: Thirty-Seven Emblems for the Perilous Season
Juxtaposing barbarity and whimsy, Brian Conn’s The Fixed Stars has the tenor of a contemporary fable with nearly the same dream-like logic.
At its heart is the John’s Day celebration and the interactions of a small community afflicted by a mysterious plague. Citizens — the infected and healthy alike — are routinely quarantined and then reintegrated into society in rituals marked by a haunting brutality. In a culture that has retreated from urbanism into the pastoral, a woman who nurtures spiders and a man who spins hemp exist alongside the mass acceptance of sexual proliferation. Conn delivers a compelling portrait of a calamitous era, one tormented by pestilence, disease, violence, senseless ritual, and post-late-capitalism. An unflinching look at a world impossible to situate in time, The Fixed Stars is mythic and darkly magical.
Brian Conn’s wonderfully perilous crossbreeding of SF and innovative prose reads like what might result if Dhalgren and A Canticle for Leibowitz engaged in salacious acts with The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Fixed Stars is a funny, absurd, and beatifically strange book, one in which you simultaneously have the feeling that not one word is out of place and that everything that language brings to us opens onto a void. The Fixed Stars is the future of the future, and it is a truly outstanding debut.
With bits of machinery culled from post-apocalyptic science fiction, gothic horror, and ancient myth and ritual, Brian Conn has built a beguiling puzzle box of a novel. The Fixed Stars is a thorny, disjunctive fable that unfolds like a night-blooming flower. This is strange, intoxicating stuff.