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novels of corrupt bishops and Popes, heretics, saint's bones, etc

I was really surprised by how much I liked the parts about Catholicism in the Mongoliad series. What other fiction is there involving the medieval Church's corruption, orders of knights (or monks or whatever) who are heretics or pagans who've drawn a thin veneer of Catholicism over themselves, gnosticism and mysticism, characters who may be god-touched, mad, or both and the people who have to keep them out of trouble? [more inside]
posted by NoraReed on Aug 26, 2014 - 27 answers

Please help me ID this old sci-fi story

Here are a few facts about this old SF story whose author I can no longer recall. 1. It was written by a giant of mid-century SF whose name I can no longer recall. Not Sheckley, not Asimov. I thought it might be Damon Knight, but I can't find it in his work. 2. It's a story about a man who travels to the future as part of a gigantic relief effort to assist future men who are burying themselves in the earth. [more inside]
posted by Mr. Justice on Aug 23, 2014 - 4 answers

Influenza Pandemic of 1918 -- fiction recommendations?

What are your recommendations for fiction that considers the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, either as a main focus or as a backdrop? [more inside]
posted by janey47 on Aug 22, 2014 - 10 answers

1970s science fiction short story about a young mother going crazy?

There's this science fiction story I can recall reading in at least one anthology, if not multiples. It is told from the perspective of a young mother who is going crazy dealing with her kid(s). The writing is very stark and bleak, but it's a fun story nonetheless. I am fairly certain the author was a woman. I believe it's from the late 60s or early to mid 1970s. [more inside]
posted by Slinga on Aug 21, 2014 - 9 answers

Word association: Fairy Tale

Further to the success of a previous Ask Me, in which I was given a great idea for a fictional story I am writing, I am back with another question. I would like to know what people, places, events and objects you associate with fairy tales, folklore, myths etc. [more inside]
posted by Youremyworld on Aug 17, 2014 - 27 answers

Can you identify this peculiar genealogical thriller?

Some time in the mid-to-late '80s, I borrowed a book from my local public library (in the UK). I recall neither its title nor the author's name, but I think it may nevertheless be uniquely identifiable from those details of its plot I can remember. Its protagonist is a genealogist, who is hired to discreetly research the family background of a US presidential candidate. There is an element of cat-&-mouse as unknown individuals try to put a stop to his researches, but he perseveres... [more inside]
posted by zmacw49 on Aug 11, 2014 - 3 answers

Need the title of a space-based science fiction novel

Around 10 years ago I read a science fiction paperback novel (that I think had been recently published) and I can't remember what it was called. All I can remember is that it was largely set on a spacecraft and there were a group of Humans investigating a series of horrible deaths on a planet and on another spacecraft. They found the bones of the missing people buried on the planet they were investigating.
posted by DarrenLB on Aug 6, 2014 - 5 answers

What other authors might I like?

I like Patricia Cornwell. I like Robin Cook. Who else might I like? [more inside]
posted by kathrynm on Aug 6, 2014 - 11 answers

Bibliotherapy for misandry?

Can you recommend novels, short stories or even biographies that might help me overcome my fear, distrust and occasional feelings of downright hatred towards men? [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Aug 6, 2014 - 25 answers

Give me your Underdog stories!

I decided today that I absolutely love underdog stories. I love rooting for the little guy to come out on top. I love following along with their journey. Think Silicon Valley the TV Show or Halt and Catch Fire or the Bad News Bears, Mighty Ducks etc. What are your favorite underdog stories in books or film? Fiction is preferred for books, but either is fine for visual media.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith on Aug 1, 2014 - 22 answers

high-concept low-spectacle speculative realistic fiction

What are some good novels that have a high-concept speculative element in the background, but aren't quite about that? [more inside]
posted by threeants on Jul 28, 2014 - 33 answers

Where should I read fiction online?

What are the best websites/blogs/etc. to read contemporary fiction? I'm particularly interested in writing by women, experimental fiction, and magical realism, not necessarily all at once. [more inside]
posted by dysh on Jul 28, 2014 - 6 answers

Name that TV show

Based on a few vague memories, can you guys help me find a British TV series from the 80's? It involved roses, a maze and pairs of flying eyes that were spies for an evil sorcerer/king. It might be the TV show "Into the Labryrinth" but I can't tell for sure. Does this jog any memories for anyone? [more inside]
posted by ninazer0 on Jul 27, 2014 - 2 answers

Like Octavia Butler, but even more awesome?

I'm sure this has been asked before, but searching the archives didn't help much. I'm an avid reader, but can't find any compelling new books to read. Feminist, sci-fi-ish books with a literary bent would be ideal. Detailed likes and dislikes inside! [more inside]
posted by snaw on Jul 26, 2014 - 45 answers

Pairing fiction with eras in common

So two books I really love are Heaven to Betsy and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love how they go into the details of the period they take place, particularly the fashion and food. It was also only recently I realised that they take place roughly around the same era. It really surprised me because they are so completely different to one another. Francie has an alcoholic father and the family can barely get food on the table; Betsy's biggest ordeal is falling in love with a boy that doesn't like her back and not studying for an essay contest. So my question is two-fold and is aimed at requesting book suggestions. [more inside]
posted by like_neon on Jul 25, 2014 - 23 answers

Short story identification

What is this short story I read sometime in the late 1990s? Plot involved two teenage girls in the 1960s, Beatlemania, and the terrifying truths of growing up. [more inside]
posted by Ideal Impulse on Jul 23, 2014 - 3 answers

Fictional characters to arrange key exchange over unsecure channel?

I'm presenting a cryptography demonstration to a small group of nerdy teenagers soon. As part of the fun, I have an activity in which they are spies that need to arrange a key exchange over a unsecure channel without any required prior knowledge of each other. (You can assume the mechanics of the key exchange are sound.) I thought it might be fun if I could refer to different fictional characters that the teens could pretend to be. What are some fictional characters and associated unsecure channels that would fit the scenario above? Examples and further notes inside. [more inside]
posted by wiskunde on Jul 21, 2014 - 11 answers

How do I amass a book collection in this day and age?

I've always wanted to wind up with a large collection of books like my parents have. However, when I can find constantly updated information on the internet and I check out fiction from the library, I can rarely convince myself there's a good reason to actually BUY a book. What books should I be buying? Some snowflakes inside. [more inside]
posted by majesty_snowbird on Jul 17, 2014 - 30 answers

Fiction incorporating internet interactions?

What books and short fiction successfully incorporate internet communication, specifically web communication, into the narrative? I'm interested in writing a novel or novella that would switch between traditional omniscient third-person narrative and the descents into utter madness that can be found on, for example, Tumblr, and other web forums. The only piece that I can think of that uses forum posts to tell a story is "Candle Cove," but I am sure there must be many more. I'm particularly interested in novels.
posted by Countess Elena on Jul 16, 2014 - 24 answers

Need examples of overlapping conversations from fiction

I'm looking for examples from fiction of multiple conversations happening at once, between at least three different people. The more complex the conversation, the better. Better still if it's from a known author.
posted by asher on Jul 16, 2014 - 21 answers

Ever been a frat boy? Please help me write my novella!

Hi folks. I'm working on a new eBook, a comedy-fantasy novella about a frat boy who is appalled to find himself transformed overnight into a sexy girl. There's just one problem: I don't know jack about frats! I'm trying to research frat life, but I could really use the experience of somebody who has actually been a frat boy, or at least spent enough time in a frat to have some knowledge about them... [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Jul 12, 2014 - 27 answers

SciFiFilter FTL-ish Plausibility Check

In a discussion elsewhere on the internets a twist on a common science fictional transportation technology was proposed. A spaceship leaps from one point in space to another, but while it is instantaneous for the passengers, the transit actually takes some small amount of time longer than light would take to cover the distance (let's say the Planck time). Would the time delay prevent the violation of causality? It appears that everyone is staying in their light cones, what am I missing? [more inside]
posted by Octaviuz on Jun 21, 2014 - 13 answers

Books to take a train by

Next week, I am taking the Empire Builder from Chicago to Portland, Oregon. In a previous question about train travel, someone suggested reading books that take place along your train route. This is an idea I love ... and I have at least 47 hours to pass! So: what are your favorite (kindle) books which occur in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, or Oregon? Bonus for rural themes. I am not a big mystery fan, but if it is particularly excellent, I'll read it. Romance is out. Otherwise, I'm open to anything!
posted by ChuraChura on Jun 20, 2014 - 41 answers

Fantasy Disguised as General Fiction

Looking for fantasy books hiding out in the non-genre section of the bookstore. [more inside]
posted by xenization on Jun 18, 2014 - 27 answers

Fans are Slans?

Who was it that spoke out against works of fiction with characters and plots similar to 'Slan,' in which the sympathetic protagonist is innately, biologically, invisibly superior or special for some reason, and is persecuted or otherwise struggles because of it? [more inside]
posted by Verg on Jun 14, 2014 - 3 answers

A good personal wiki with tags? OR, fiction writing software?

I'd like to find some software to organize and tie together less-important details in my story. Probably I want a personal wiki--but which one? I'm open to wiki alternatives also. [more inside]
posted by mattu on Jun 12, 2014 - 9 answers

Thoughtful-but-entertaining novels for the nonliterary type?

I'm teaching an introductory course on prose fiction (reading, not writing). What fun post-1900 novel should I put on the syllabus? Should be intelligent, but needn't necessarily be, you know, Literary. [more inside]
posted by gallusgallus on Jun 10, 2014 - 40 answers

Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry about people's lives

I'm looking for essays, books, poetry, nonfiction, or whatever else about normal people's everyday lives and pasts, humorous if possible. I'm looking for stuff in the vein of the New York Press's old columns (like the ones Ned Vizzini wrote) or like Books of Adam. Writing that is casual, but well written.
posted by holmesian on Jun 9, 2014 - 9 answers

Historical British Detective Novel(s)

I'm looking for suggestions for a book that could appeal to a diverse set of people (i.e. my family). Some historical fiction set in England/Scotland/Wales/Ireland, with a detective-style plot, seems like it would work. Suggestions? [more inside]
posted by benito.strauss on Jun 8, 2014 - 29 answers

I assure you, Mr. Bond, that your ride on my Hyperloop will be brief.

Has anyone written any fiction portraying Elon Musk as a villain? The story can either be interpreting his real actions as villainous, or creating fictional villainy for him to do.
posted by michaelh on May 30, 2014 - 5 answers

Could you recommend some audiobooks?

I'm seeking audiobook recommendations for books that are escapist, engrossing, generally feel-good, and fast-paced (without being frightening). [more inside]
posted by slidell on May 29, 2014 - 16 answers

Great short stories or novellas legally downloadable for free for Kindle

What great short stories, short novellas, or even short nonfiction pieces can I legally download for free for my Kindle? Some details inside. [more inside]
posted by Flunkie on May 26, 2014 - 13 answers

It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.

I am looking for recommendations of great dystopian novels, novellas, and short stories. Any length will do! [more inside]
posted by SkylitDrawl on May 22, 2014 - 39 answers

Feel free to go medieval on this question

I am seeking recommendations of fiiction set in medieval times - but, I'm not interested in mysteries, stories focusing on kings/queens/knights/battles etc, or fantasy. Rather, I'm looking for accurate depictions of people living in that era-- their lives, struggles, adventures. I've read the Ken Follett trilogy and enjoyed the first 1.5 books. Really liked Noah Gordon's The Physician. What are you favorites?
posted by ecorrocio on May 18, 2014 - 33 answers

Historical novels, subtype 'just-so' stories?

I'm craving a particular subtype of historical novel: the kind that posits a dimly-remembered reality behind a famous myth/legend/story, sort of filling it out and extrapolating the details into realism. My favorite of this kind is Mary Renault's "The King Must Die" about Theseus (also the sequel). I also enjoyed "Eaters of the Dead", about the events of 'Beowulf'. But what are some other good ones you can recommend? More examples and specifics inside! [more inside]
posted by theatro on May 15, 2014 - 32 answers

What book goes well with my box of tissues?

I want to cry my eyes out over a book. It's been a long time since I have and I need the catharsis. [more inside]
posted by quincunx on May 5, 2014 - 88 answers

Masculine bisexual men in fiction and popular culture?

This season of Game of Thrones introduced what I think may be the first prominent out bisexual male character in popular culture who presents as traditionally masculine. There's also some closeted heteroflexibility in one episode of House of Cards (Spoiler), but aside from these two instances, I am having a difficult time coming up with examples of masculine bisexual men in contemporary fiction and pop culture. It seems like typically bisexuality in men is portrayed as automatically feminizing. Can anyone help me list or name other examples (including famous men and fictional characters) who are both openly bi and also have a presence that would be seen as masculine by traditional standards?
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch on May 3, 2014 - 28 answers

Female wanderers wanted!

Seeking literary fiction with a transient, often solitary, female hero, please! [more inside]
posted by Isingthebodyelectric on Apr 30, 2014 - 40 answers

Internet community where I can get feedback on my prose and storytelling

I am about 15,000 words into my first novel, and I'm finding it difficult to get feedback from my old English major friends. I'd like to know how the pace, grammar, syntax, etc. of my story strike various experienced readers, but I certainly don't want to put my manuscript online in an unsecured environment. Any thoughts? BTW, I live in the Maine woods; no, there are no local meet-ups. I really wish there were.
posted by jwhite1979 on Apr 28, 2014 - 15 answers

Another "name that gruesome childhood short story" question.

What is the name and who is the author of a story wherein a woman has a second skin? [more inside]
posted by adipocere on Apr 28, 2014 - 2 answers

I have an encyclopedia, not a story: what to do?

Authors Of AskMe, has this happened to you? During my self-imposed creative hiatus over the last year or so I conducted a lot of research into what would be my dream project. A project I could be passionate about, the kind of book I'd really want to exist. So I made a list of every thing, character, concept, idea, sudden kind of twist I'd like. I have three notebooks of this stuff. I cross-indexed it and included all my references. I have an astounding about of detail on what I want to put in and touch on but no actual story. I keep staring at it, like it's a list of SCP entries, and I can't think of a damn thing for anyone to do with these collected items, places, motifs, themes, and people. It's frustrating cause I can come up with quick pulp narratives on the fly for stuff I'm not working as hard on but every attempt to break and outline a rising action for these people results in rapid breathing and complete brain fume-lock. I keep asking "What does the main character want?" and coming up with nothing. Is this common? Is there a resource for this? Can I pay someone to go through these ideas and find something that other people might want to read? [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Apr 23, 2014 - 39 answers

SF/Fantasy books with a 'big reveal'?

RecoFilter: I'm looking for recommendations of books, preferably in the sci-fi/fantasy genres, that have a 'big reveal' somewhere in there that changes the whole perspective of the book or protagonist. Examples would be The Inverted World, The Prestige, or Ender's Game, for example, or the first Star Trek film, or some Lovecraft stories — the whole thing, and all events narrated, appear in a different light after, you know? [more inside]
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Apr 18, 2014 - 43 answers

Please rescue my thieves

I’ve gone and written myself into a corner in a story I’m writing. I need to figure out how two thieves can escape from the grounds of a castle. [more inside]
posted by talitha_kumi on Apr 15, 2014 - 45 answers

Books that allude to books that do not exist.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the title character is negatively influenced by a "poison" book that is mentioned repeatedly in the text but never named. "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," the short story by Jorge Luis Borges, mentions several nonexistent books including a mysteriously altered encyclopedia and a History of the Land Called Uqbar. I am looking for more fictional references in novels or stories to other books that do not exist. Help, please? [more inside]
posted by BlueJae on Apr 11, 2014 - 59 answers

Does The Scarlet Letter belong to a literary genre?

Does The Scarlet Letter belong to a literary genre? How would publishers market the book today, and on what book shelf would you find it in the book store? Same question for The Brothers Karamazov. Could these stories, if they were told in a prose style indicative of the 21st c, find a publisher?
posted by jwhite1979 on Apr 9, 2014 - 12 answers

Story within a story within a story within....

Is there a term for when readers/watchers are pushed into trying to figure out which is the "true" version of something fictional? For example, in Life of Pi when it's up to the reader to figure out which version of the story is "true" when we know that none of it is true at all because... it's fiction. Bonus: What are some other examples of this?
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper on Apr 1, 2014 - 43 answers

books with realistic female characters?

I am tired of novels that have an enigmatic woman at the center of the novel. Can you recommend some books to me where all of the female characters actually act like real people? [more inside]
posted by colfax on Mar 30, 2014 - 57 answers

This ball of twine is your life.

I remember reading a short story or folk tale about a man who had a ball of string. Whenever something boring was happening, he could just pull out some of the string and fast forward to the more interesting parts of his life. I read it around 1991, and it may have been Isaac Singer. Does anyone have a source for this tale?
posted by mecran01 on Mar 30, 2014 - 5 answers

Help me remember the name of this short story.

I read a short story a few years ago that involved a white couple living in post-colonial Africa. I think it might have been Rhodesia, but I'm not positive about that. The couple lived in a once-grand, now decaying estate and had to deal with an act of violence. I remember reading it on my commute to work, so it was likely in a magazine. I've searched the New Yorker archives and can't seem to find it there, but the Atlantic is another possibility. Does this ring any bells?
posted by trixiebelden on Mar 29, 2014 - 12 answers

Examples of dead/dying characters listing all the things they'll miss

I'm trying to think of more examples of this particular moment: a character who is dying, or thinking of death, or speaking from beyond the grave, gives a list or inventory of the everyday things they remember and appreciate about being alive. A few examples inside. [more inside]
posted by Beardman on Mar 28, 2014 - 23 answers

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