Right before our summer break we met on a sunny Wednesday evening to discuss Strange Bodies written by Marcel Theroux. There were also tasty Russian snacks for us to enjoy, courtesy of Lof der Zoetheid. So as you can tell we had a great night, but what can you do if you also enjoyed the book? Of course we have some recommendations for that.
Marcel Theroux has written a couple books, so there’s still plenty for you to read if you liked his writing. His most famous novel is Far North, a dystopic work about a very cold earth where life as we know it seems to have vanished. Living in the cold arctic isn’t doing Sherrif Makepeace any good, so when he finds evidence of old life flourishing again he goes after it.
But Theroux also wrote The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes, a book based around the persona of Sherlock Holmes’ brother, which explores a mysterious manuscript leading to unearthing deeply buried family secrets.
If you liked the idea that people are coded within their words and writing and want to further explore the power of words, then give Lexicon By Max Barry a try. This book is about Poets, people who can use words to control others. The story concentrates on a bareword, a word that is so powerful that anyone who sees it, is immediately controlled by it.
Continuing with the experiments and ideas of Nikolai Fyodorov, whose work on immortality is mentioned in Strange Bodies, we recommend The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi. This sci-fi novel is also based in the idea that immortality can be attained by some kind of transhuman theory of uploading your mind. It follows Le Flambeur, a well-known post-human mind burglar, who needs to kill his other self before the other self kills him.
It’s very possible that the Russian aspects of Strange Bodies caught your attention. For anyone more interested in reading Russian sci-fi, it might be good to start with a modern classic such as Roadside Picnic. Then delving into more current works, you should try The Slynx written by Tolstoy’s great grandniece Tatyana Tolstaya.
Strange Bodies also dives into body snatcher activities when Nicholas finds a version of himself inside someone else’s body. Many questions about what it is like to be inside a different body, aware that it is not your own, stay unanswered. To delve deeper into this idea, we suggest trying Every day by David Levithan. A, the main character, is unable to stay in one body for more than a day. He moves from body to body, inhabiting someone else’s life every day. This means he wakes up in all sorts of bodies and has to deal with whatever comes unto his path that day. It’s a very interesting portrayal of what life could be like in someone else’s shoes.
If you like Theroux’s literary take on science fiction, you might also be a fan of the work of Margaret Atwood. Her most science fictiony work is the Maddaddam Trilogy documenting the adventures of Jimmy – also called Snowman – in a dystopian world where the environment has gone awry. So start with Oryx and Crake and find out about all the hazardous corporations who thought it was a great idea to experiment with genetic engineering.
And finally, moving away from the science fiction, a recommendation for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the works and life of Samuel Johnson. Although one of his largest works is the dictionary, we don’t recommend you to read that. Instead try your hand at either his only novel The History of Rasselas in which a man is in constant search of happiness, or a selection of his essays which appeared in periodicals like The Spectator. If you’d rather learn more about the man himself, you should give his biography The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell a try. It’s one of the most lauded biographies to date and supposedly you are in for a witty ride.
These are our recommendations for Strange Bodies, but there’s plenty else to read. Let us know what the book made you think of and what else you are reading!