In Venezuela, Dystopian Fiction Hits Close to Home

J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise Shows What Happens When a Liberal Democracy Crumbles and Its Worst Vices Take Over

There’s a certain absurdity that comes with trying to explain—in calm, simple, and objective words—a life that has become too strange to be real. At least, that’s how I feel when talking about my home country, Venezuela, where a small bottle of water has become more expensive than a barrel of gasoline, law enforcement officials are afraid to enter prisons that are ruled by criminal gangs, and the minimum wage is less than five American dollars per month.

Sometimes, when I try to put facts and events in order, I …

The Fictional Maps That Fill Us With Wonder

From Kerouac to Brontë, Writers Have Imagined Intricate Geographies

“Maps are like good books,” writes historian of exploration Huw Lewis-Jones. They “are transporting: filled with wonder, possibility, adventure. … They allow us to escape to another place whenever we …

Were Mr. Darcy and Boo Radley Anti-Social Misfits—or Autistic?

How Fiction Can Reframe a Misunderstood Mental Condition

Is autism cool?

It is in literature, as novels featuring characters on the autism spectrum have become so frequent that they’ve spawned a new genre: “autism lit,” or “aut lit.”

Many of …

How Mermaids Became a Real Problem for Scientists

Discovery Channel “Documentaries” About Mythical Creatures Erode Public Trust in Science and Government

“If NOAA is lying to us about the existence of mermaids then they’re definitely lying to us about climate change.”

It was August 2014 and I was flying home from the …

My California

In Novelist Edan Lepucki’s Home State, the History Is Fictional, the Terrain Is Otherworldly, and the Population Is United by Difference

In the story about myself, I was born in Santa Monica, in a rental on Sunset Ave. (yes, Avenue, not Boulevard). Early February, which is a bleak month elsewhere, but …