We dabbled some more in science fiction & fantasy with All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, a book that’s foremost a love story that takes place at the end of the world. There was no unanimous decision reached on what we all thought of the book, but we can say it’s a little quirky and if you like the style, you’ll love it. Today we’ll recommend some other books you’d might want to try and we’ll share some discussion questions in case you’re reading this with your own book club.
During the book club we had a little debate on whether this was Charlie Jane Anders’ first novel or not. In the back of my book it said it was her debut novel, but the hardcover edition said something different. According to Goodreads, she also wrote a book called Choir Boy back in 2005, so my book turned out to be wrong. This first novel is about Berry, a choir-boy who’s changing into a man but wants nothing more than to remain in the choir. He does everything he can to keep his voice from changing, which leads to complex gender issues.
In an interview Charlie Jane Anders said that Piers Plowman was a big influence on All the Birds in the Sky. She read it in college and the idea of a quest stayed in her mind. Piers Plowman is a story from the Middle Ages – part theological allegory, part social satire – all written in alliterative verse. The narrator is on a quest to find the true Christian life and is told through visions upon visions upon visions.
If you’re looking for similar reading and you haven’t yet heard of The Magicians, then we suggest you go read it now. But for our recommendations we decided to go with Signal To Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This book is set in Mexico City where Meche learns that she can cast spells through music and together with two friends, she starts to experiment. Coming back to Mexico City years later Meche has to confront her old life, old emotions and tries to see if the magic still exists.
Possible Discussion Questions:
– What side are you on in the magic vs. science debate?
– The book doesn’t have a clear villain, but who or what do you think is to blame for the nearing apocalypse?
– Discuss what tropes of science fiction and fantasy are used and how they are subverted.