In this world of changing genders and shifting genres, Rivers Solomon stands out. The author shirks simple identification by using “they” as a pronoun, instead of “he” or “she,” and writing about life in the margins, “where ‘they’ are firmly at home.” (See tweets at @cyborgndroid)
Solomon’s debut novel may intrigue book groups seeking new forms of expression and ways of looking at age-old problems, but it’s not for the faint of spirit.
Technically science fiction, “An Unkindness of Ghosts” explores in literary fashion what happens when a rocket ship transporting the people of a dying planet to another, ostensibly, becomes the center of questions about identity, race and slavery, set within the parameter of a woman’s search into her mother’s disappearance aboard the ship many years before.
Aboard the ship, dark-skinned passengers are kept on lower decks, far from the better-lodged white-skinned passengers.
“Solomon’s evocation of this society is so sharply detailed and viscerally realized, the characters so closely observed, the individual scenes so tightly structured, that the novel achieves surprising power and occasional brilliance,” writes reviewer Gary K. Wolfe in Locus magazine.
Solomon grew up around the U.S. and is living in Cambridge, England, with degrees in race and ethnicity from Stanford University and a master’s degree in fiction writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. Variously self-described as a mother, Afrofuturist, feminist and cyborg, Solomon cites literary influences that include Ursula K. Le Guin, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, Zora Neale Hurston and Doris Lessing.
‘Doctor Who,’ anyone?
While we’re on science fiction, there’s a Doctor Who monthly discussion night at Annie’s Book Stop, 65 James St., Worcester, with the next meeting at 7 p.m. March 15. Owner Patty Cryan is a longtime fan of the series, the world’s longest-running science fiction serial. This month’s topic: Classic and Modern Who Antagonists — The Cybermen! Written for BBC TV by various writers, the series was conceived as an educational project.
From 1 to 3 p.m. March 17, blogger, instructor, writer, and photographer Derek Strahan will be at Annie’s Book Stop to depict Worcester of a century ago through photographs and historical descriptions. He’ll have copies of his newest book, “New England Then and Now,” which includes Worcester County locations, to sign at the event. Strahan is the author of the blog “Lost New England” as well as the book “Lost Springfield.” He teaches English at the Master’s School in Simsbury, Connecticut, and lives in Springfield. In his book, vintage photos from 100 years ago are paired with the same viewpoint photographed today.
The annual “One Book, One Boylston” community read commemorates the 100th anniversary of Willa Cather’s “My Antonia.” Boylston Public Library is giving away copies of the book and will hold a book discussion at 6:30 p.m. March 15, with a related panel discussion of the immigrant experience at 6:30 p.m. March 21 featuring Beth Singley from Ascentria Care Alliance and Jolene Jennings from Literacy Volunteers of Worcester. At 6:30 p.m. March 29, the pioneer experience will be further illustrated with a program on frontier cooking with Ryan Beckman, historic foods associate from Sturbridge Village.