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Book Review: Literature® by Guillermo Stitch

Here at Signal Horizon we are always on the hunt for new voices out there in the horror and science fiction genres.  That new talent comes in a variety of forms- authors, screenwriters, directors, and editors, but there are a whole lot of them out there!  It’s frankly impossible to keep up with everything out there and quality varies widely.  That’s why when a new, strong author like Guillermo Stitch comes on the scene with an excellent debut novella we get super excited to tell the world about it.  So lets get down to it and dive into what you will find inside Literature®. 

Science fiction is at its absolute finest when it works hard to create worlds that we believe and care about.  When that same world also introduces empathetic characters that also work hard to discuss universal problems with the human condition we are totally in.  This is the world of Literature. We discuss genre definitions quite a bit here at Signal Horizon and those descriptions can often be a good way of communicating a general outline of a novel.  Literature® is roughly equal elements of neo-noir and soft science fiction, but it doesn’t blindly emulate either.  Guillermo Stitch is not only well versed in both of those genres, but most importantly decides which motifs and tropes to use for maximum effect.  A great example of this is the classic sci-fi hook device that is used to engage the reader straight from the beginning of this particular novella, but before we get to this particular one we should take a moment and discuss genre devices in a bit more detail.  

Have you ever wondered why many self published or debut genre fiction pieces fail to engage with you?  They seem to have all the hallmarks of your favorite genre, but there is something just off.  It could just be poorly written, but I have found that what often happens is that the author relies too heavily on the obvious staples and misses the more subtle ones.  One of the less obvious genre devices is the classic sci-fi hook that looks something like this:

Here is a world and some characters that you can relate to, but there are some major elements about their world that are different from ours.  You see them, but they are not immediately explained to you.  What is going on?  Why are things this way?  What does it mean to the characters and their larger society? Come on reader, lets find out…

This creates a real sense of investment right from the first page, quite a bit more than huge exposition by one of the characters or worse yet just a big blob of text explaining the sci-fi conceits that the novel will be trafficking in.  This sense of investment created by a splash of wonder and mystery at the beginning has launched countless novels and Literature® pulls it off spectacularly.  We are introduced right at the beginning (actually even before because it is in the title) to a world where basic concepts like Solace®, Spirituality®, and Literature® have been copyrighted, trademarked, and controlled.  It’s a great way to get the reader thinking, engaged, and most importantly excited to read more.  Readers will find many more examples of subtle uses of both the neo-noir and sci-fi genres judiciously used to craft a very tight story.

Literature® picks up and runs with quite a few neo-noir themes as well.  Most authors focus on the gritty, moral grey areas but leave out one of the most subtle and interesting themes that neo-noir uses: alienation.  Our main character, Billy Stringer, begins isolated after a break-up and becomes only more alienated from there.  We have close perspective on Billy but the novella is not first person, which allows some very interesting details to be withheld until key moments.  This is an excellent touch and allows for the alienation to both build and be further revealed as the narrative takes shape.  

Ultimately these concepts of alienation and paranoia feed into the greater theme that Literature® wants to discuss: the commodification of culture in general and the written word in specific.  This is a timely theme for sure in today’s fast paced environment of fake news, social media, and general public taste for sensational headlines over serious, and nuanced long form journalism.  The obvious parallel here would be to Fahrenheit 451, but the latest movie interpenetration of the novel really failed to light our fire.  Literature® does a much better job exploring this theme and the neo-noir aspects make it just plain fun. 

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So, is Literature® for you?  It you like the thrill of the chase you get from hard-boiled and neo-noir, but need the extra intellectual stimulation of exploring deeper themes, then Literature® should be your next go to novella.  The sci-fi conceit is admittedly kind of far out there, but the excellent hook and fast narrative pace will suspend the disbelief of all save the most fervent hard science fiction fans.  Clever prose and a dense, fast paced narrative make Literature® a home run.  Literature® will available as an eBook on Amazon on the 1st of July, 2018.  Click on the right to pre-order today!  It also looks like  Literature® will be eligible for the Kindle Unlimited program- if you are already a subscriber then you absolutely have to give this one a shot.  Not a subscriber?  Click below to sign up for a 30 day free trial of Kindle Unlimited or click here to find out more about some of the great titles we have found on Kindle Unlimited.  

You can find out more about Literature® and the author at his website Interested in more reviews of current genre fiction, TV, and movies?  Head on over to our ever growing review section.  If you want to keep up to date with all of Signal Horizon’s horror and dark science fiction news, reviews, and analysis head on over to our Face