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The Trial
by Franz Kafka (1925)


Phantasmagorically surreal German-language writer who reportedly wanted his unfinished manuscripts destroyed after his death in his early-40s. Thankfully, his friend Max Brod ignored his wishes and pieced together enough material to publish The Trial. Josef K wakes up one morning and is arrested for an unspecified crime. The ensuing trial is nothing short of bizarre.





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If On a Winter's Night a Traveler
by Italo Calvino (1979)


Experimental literature with the Reader buying a copy of Italo Clavino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler. Trying to read it, however, has its challenges. Thinking it is faulty, he returns it to the bookshop and finds the book is not by Calvino at all. This begins a cycle involving the Other Reader and their attempts to find and read each other. A romance like no other.





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'Book of the New Sun'
by Gene Wolfe (1980)


Although the sci-fi elements are not immediately apparent, this is a far-future science fantasy set on a dying Earth - or Urth as it has become known. The first instalment of the four-part 'Book of the New Sun' is a journey of self-discovery chronicling the rise of an apprentice Torturer who in later volumes becomes the planet's enlightened Autarch. World Fantasy Award winner.





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Ishmael
by Daniel Quinn (1992)


Ecological fantasy in which a despondent Sixties leftie responds to an ad from a teacher seeking a pupil. The teacher turns out to be a telepathic gorilla who knows more than a thing or two environmental decline and global issues. While this is certainly not conventional narrative literature, the convincing arguments and commonsense solutions put forward are thought-provokingly effective.





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'New Crobuzon'
by China Miéville (2000)


Bursting on the scene amidst a wave of critical acclaim, the first volume of the 'New Crobuzon' series, Perdido Street Station, is an uncategorisable blend of the best speculative fiction on offer. A scientist and his insectoid lover run headlong into the underworld of New Crobuzon - a sprawling metropolis with architectural features reminiscent of Mervyn Peake's 'Gormenghast'.





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American Gods
by Neil Gaiman (2001)


Gaiman's British origins give him an uncanny insight into his adopted American psyche - one which he uses to full advantage in American Gods. The gods of the Euro-mythos square off against those of Western technology - like credit cards, freeways and the internet. Set in many real-life American locations and reminiscent of Harlan Ellison's Deathbird Stories.





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'Gentleman Bastard'
by Scott Lynch (2006)


In the beginning, when orphan Locke Lamora is sold to band of thieves and con-artists he quickly rises to the leadership of the nefariously villainous Gentlemen Bastards. In genuine medieval nouveau weird style the Bastards rob from the rich using an amazing array of cleverness and tactical invention. Most will find this a real hoot, but a bit hard to follow at times.





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'Night Angel'
by Brent Weeks (2008)


An author obsessed with 70s TV series 'Kung Fu'… and it shows. In a somewhat thinly-veiled fantasy version of the series, guild rat Azoth starts out as an assassin with magical powers, but soon tries to leave it all behind and become a bit more Kwai Chang Caine-like. OK… for those who didn't quite get that, download a couple of episodes of 'Kung Fu', then have fun reading this series.


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