Six Amazingly Bizarre Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels You’ve Never Heard Of

You’re proud of reading strange fiction.

When someone says, “I read this really weird book…” you immediately tune them out, because they’re peasants compared to what you’ve read.

WELL THINK AGAIN, PEASANT!

I bet your feet aren’t even wet in bizarre. If they were, you’d have already read everything on this list of godawful reviews of some of the godawfullestly bizarre books you can find.

6. Shadow and Claw
Gene Wolfe

Shadow & Claw (The Book of the New Sun #1-2)

The worst part about this novel is that it’s hard to follow along. The best part is that when you do, you’re thrown into an insanely fantastical world that’s constantly trying to kill you and for some reason, you just can’t leave.

The main dude grows up in a Torturer’s guild, where all he does all day long is learn better ways to torture people. Sadly, he falls in love with one of his torturees and helps her commit suicide (a no no, to other Torturers).

Now on the run from the Torturer’s guild, main dude starts to explore the world, and honestly, he should have stayed in his deep, damp, torturous dungeons, because the world is WAY worse.

Imagine you’re a cute, little, peaceful peasant.

“La la la, I’m going to walk to the next village to go to grandma’s!” you say and leave the gates of your village (by the way, the gates of your village are ten miles thick to keep all the baddies out)

Not two moments have passed and your carcass has been ripped to shreds by gigantic beastly monsters! Your soul ripped to shreds by strange flying cloths (yeah, flying, soul sucking cloths)! Your dignity ripped to shreds by your avenging family who eats your corpse as part of a strange ritual where they consume your memories. Worst of all, your ears are ripped to shreds because there are some bards engaging in an outdoor spectacle of song and dance watching this all happen, while a bomb goes off and destroys everything.

To add onto absurdity, there’s actually A LITERAL PLAY written write into the book! Like, story stops, play starts. And they have nothing to do with each other. It’s just whack.

And once you’re back in the story, you can’t even safely stay there for long, because at random points you’re transported to modern day earth, where you hang out with some missionaries missionarying to some Amazonial people.

This book is just all over the place, but in a strangely acceptable way that makes you want to engage in hours of research after you finish the novel just to figure out what it’s about.

5. Iris
William Barton and Michael Capobianco
Iris

Iris is about a group of astronauts who are all sexually interested in one another (so many love triangles, it turns into a love hexagon). Of course the best place to send a sex-crazed orgy is to investigate a disant moon, because that’s what super advanced civilization do. Screw scientists and screening tests.

The crazy sexagon (sex hexagon) manages to stop having sex long enough to actually do their exploration duty and check out the planet they were sent to investigate. Needless to say, some of the crew stays behind so they can have more sex. I’M NOT EVEN JOKING!

The crew quickly discover an ancient alien “ark” ship on the moon that they suspect was carrying some ancient alien animals after some ancient alien planet died. They accidentally turn on the ship (in more than a sexual way) and it imparts its memories into their sexy bods.

Actually, it turns out the vessel is still alive, after being abandoned on the moon for aeons. What’s more is that it douses the crew in its deliciously oozy oil, which is actually some strange form of communication. Things get even stranger when it turns out the ship wants to get in on all their sexy times, and we spend a good deal learning about robot ship sex (which doesn’t really make sense, because robots can’t reproduce, but the authors make it make sense).

It’s a tough read for sure, so be ready for a challenge! Just make sure to wear some gloves when you pick up this read, because things are going to get oozy and sticky real fast.

4. The Gameplayers of Zan
M.A. Foster
The Gameplayers of Zan (Ler, #2)

This novel is on a whole other level. Imagine taking George R. R. Martin and J. R. Tolkien and putting all their world-building energy into creating the daily nuances of a subculture of futuristic humans.

The novel is about the Ler, a race of genetically superior humans. They were created by humans, but they turned TOO different than expected. Plain old humans don’t like them, so they’re all pushed into a little forest community, where tourists go to watch their daily activities, and the government watches closely for fear that they’re plotting something.

These super humans who live in braids (makes sense once you read it), have INSANELY complex daily rituals and ways of interacting with each other. I’m talking like 100 pages purely describing how a certain connotation of a word effects the social interactions of different braids. It’s just INSANE how much detail goes into creating Ler culture. After finishing this book, you can apply for expedited advanced anthropology degree from Harvard University.

And of course, it turns out the Ler HAVE BEEN PLOTTING SOMETHING. Something huge, and they’ve been doing it undetected for hundreds of years through an ancient tradition of playing a game which is part of their INSANELY COMPLEX culture.

On top of this, you learn all about the complete mindfucks of the Lers’s capabilities. By will they can transport their minds into basically another dimension, or just decide to erase all their own memories and start over as a baby in the body of an adult (this happens by the way). Being a baby adult is just the most inconvenient thing ever, so don’t try it.

All in all, the Gameplayers of Zan is on an entirely different level than any other book you could ever read.

3. Diaspora
Greg Egan
Diaspora

Where do I even start with this one.

In the FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR future, nearly everybody lives in an internet-type virtual world. Information is freely and instantly available, so people find entertainment in jumping copies of their consciousness to other parts of the galaxy to watch stars explode from different satellites.

Out of the far reaches of the internet, sometimes artificial intelligences accidentally get born and the main character is one. She… he… whatever it is, has to learn the culture of this crazy future and try to fit in.

Oh, by the way, Earth is still around, and ancient humans still live on it, but they’ve put an embargo on their internet-galaxy-travelling brothers and sisters from coming to Earth, BECAUSE THEY HATE THEM. Unlucky for them is that the internet humans discover a supernova that will destroy Earth’s atmosphere, so now the internet humans are all like “duh, how do we tell dumb Earthlings they’ll die if they don’t want to communicate with them?”

Obviously the answer is to send the newly born AI’s mind into the wiring on an earth robot so it can try to warn the Earthlings.

Hardly any Earthlings believe the internet-human-AI-robot hybrid, which is unfortunate because they all die. All except one other Earthling who falls in love with the AI, who then transfers her consciousness to the internet.

Let me just say that THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING of the story. There’s a crazy amount of stuff that happens, that I can’t even begin to do justice to. For instance, at one point, the internet humans build a gigantic, bazillitrillion mile long hyper jump space travel device, and then find YET ANOTHER race of even more super-internet-human-robot hybrids (who hate internet-humans by the way, seriously, what gives?). And the ending of the novel is even more bizarre as our AI hero decides to go on a trek across the universe and find an ancient race of super-internet-human-robot-crabpeople-buddhistmonk-robot-internet hybrids. Everything in this novel is just plain whack.

Also, parts of this novel are HARDCORE SCIENCE FICTION, like solving mathematical problems science fiction, so be ready to dive super deep into quantum mechanics, because the author has a B.Sc.

Read it, you will definitely have a lot to think about by the end.

2. Stone
Adam Roberts

Stone

I can’t think of a more bizarre novel that could ever exist.

Taking place in the future, humanity has become perfect, yay! Turns out we solved all disease and death with little nanobots that live inside our bloodstream and repair everything. You can even communicate to these nanobots using your thoughts to tell them things like, “grow me wings so I can fly!” or “give me gigantic nostrils, so someone can stick their penis up them so I can have nose sex!” This…actually…happens… So much so, that nose sex becomes a fad ON AN ENTIRE PLANET, and people visit that planet and grow their noses just to have nose sex. Think about that for a moment. Nose sex, people. Nose. Sex.

So, the story begins with the only known criminal in the known universe. Since humanity is perfect and everyone has everything they could ever want, no one has any sort of motivation to do any harm to anyone else. Except our hero. He killed someone, and he quickly becomes famous throughout the universe as the only criminal ever.

Since “police” and “jails” are mere abstract concepts from a very distant past, humanity doesn’t really know what to do with him, so they do the best thing they can think of.

They “execute” him by taking out dude’s nanobots so he’ll die of natural causes (the lamest execution possible). Oh, but they also exhile him.

How? Well, they put him inside a plastic chamber…inside a meteor…inside a sun…inside a distant galaxy. He’s nothing to worry about now, right? WRONG! Dude escapes from his sun-Alcatraz prison by wrapping his body in foam and shooting it really really really really fast through the meteor. YES THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. He escapes with foam. Don’t even ask. I don’t even know.

So now we have dude who’s wrapped in foam, just floating through space with killing on his mind. I wish I could tell you all about his crazy killing adventures through the galaxies, but let me just say, he does a lot of killing. Like billions of people killing.

The most memorable scene in the book (other than nose sex), is dude dismembering a body, only to be super annoyed that the dismembered parts of the body keep crawling back together. The nanobots inside just won’t let the dude die, so he eventually has to bury all the separate parts so the dude CAN’T crawl back together.

I don’t even want to talk about the rest, because even recalling parts of this book troubles me.

Just read it… you will not be disappointed. You will be disturbed, but not disappointed.

1. Beyond Redemption
Michael R. Fletcher

Beyond Redemption

Imagine a world where your beliefs become reality. Believe strongly enough over time that you’re a fish and you eventually become one. Believe you’re a fish TOO MUCH and your own fish insanity kills you.

Now imagine you aren’t a fish, but other people believe you’re a fish… yup, you still end up a fish, because belief defies reality.

This is Beyond Redemption… without the fish.

All the characters in this book ARE EXTREMELY INTERESTING. There’s a kleptomaniac who can steal anything without getting caught, because that’s what she is. There’s a swordsmen who makes other people believe he’s the best swordsman in the world, so he’s easily able to defeat anyone.

There’s also this grotesque, stout, bald woman who can manipulate fire, a priest who’s personality is literally splitting, a dude who literally turns into a handful of scorpions, and a scientist who’s really good at science, because he loves science.

The best character is probably a slaver. A dude who’s 1,000 pounds and CRAVES love and acceptance so hard that other people are forced to love him no matter what. To reinforce his beliefs, he lives off a steady diet of those who love him, cooking them into a stew. It’s just so messed up, it’s hard to take your eyes off the pages of this novel. An hour will flash by like a minute you’ll be so engaged.

The actual story revolves around an insane priest who’s trying to get a whole city to believe in a young boy god he’s imagined up. The whole city believes so hard that the god actually becomes real. He then manipulates this young boy god so that he’s the god of a god and can use the god to do anything he wishes, which obviously is world domination.

Meanwhile, a troop of lowlife crazies determines that they’re going to steal the god, because of money.

Needless to say, madness ensues and there’s a ridiculously climactic scene (probably my favourite of any novel) where all these crazies are in one place throwing their powers to shit. Not to mention, every time you put this novel down, you’ll feel the need to take a shower, as the setting is so utterly grimy and glorifyingly putrid.

But, this novel is every sort of amazing in its themes, and concepts, and characters, plus there’s the fact that everyone’s got a random German name.

This is definitely the most bizarre novel you will ever read.

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