The Alterhuman Media Project

Recommended Reads: Summer '17

Summer is finally upon us, and it seems like hot weather is hitting everywhere pretty hard. To beat the heat, why not stretch out somewhere with air conditioning and enjoy our summer selection of alterhuman recommended reads?

Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman
Available for sale here

Young Adult Fiction: Unnatural Creatures

Unnatural Creatures is an anthology of short stories compiled and occasionally written by Neil Gaiman. From girls who can talk to snakes, mysterious museum specimens, and a nazi-fighting werewolf; these delightful tales blur the line between fact and fiction, human and non. Intended primarily for a young adult audience, but entertaining for older readers as well.

Light horror cw overall; sexual harassment cw for The Smile on the Face.

Nonfiction: The Universe of Things

The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism by Steven Shaviro
Available for sale here
The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism is Steven Shaviro's review and constructive critique of a fairly new type of philosophy called speculative realism. Philosophers of speculative realism seek to move away from the idea of mind/matter dualism, as well as anthropocentrism. Things need not be human, sapient, or even conscious to be imbued with vitality, and even thought. Shaviro presents us with a conception of a lively universe that is accessible yet infinitely complex; as subjects and objects, actors and events all interact with and influence each other across scales small and large.

Sound complicated? I found this book to be difficult to get through, but someone with more of a background in philosophy might have an easier time than me. Though it takes some effort to get into and understand, I want to recommend this book for its almost radical - yet, in my opinion, ultimately positive and life-affirming- anti-anthropocentric perspective on existence in the universe. Grab a cup of (iced) coffee and take your time; the ideas in this book are worth it.

Adult Fiction: Fifteen Dogs

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Available for sale here
There aren't many books that make me cry, but Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis is one of those few. Humorous, tragic, noble, and crude all at once; this book is a short and bittersweet story of fifteen dogs staying together by chance at a vet's office overnight. That night, they are given "human intelligence" by two gods, to settle a bet between them.

I think Alexis handles this anthropomorpization deftly- the dogs may now have human-like ways of reasoning, but their interests, desires, fears, and perspectives remain dog-like. Or do they? For these dogs are not quite dogs at all anymore, yet neither are they human; and this new, in-between status is something the dogs must come to terms with. Fifteen Dogs is a deeply existential story about mind, mortality, and the meaning of happiness; and if you're prepared to have your heartstrings pulled, I can't recommend it enough.

Strong cw for animal injury, animal death, and sexual themes throughout. 

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