Help me remember this book?
October 8, 2019 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I have vague memories of a book I read as a young teen, probably some time in the early 00s, but I can't find it on Google, going off of the few details I remember.

The book was a strange fantasy story, set in some kind of desert, Middle Eastern, or north African setting, maybe somewhere like Morroco? The protagonist spent quite a bit of time at a library or archive in this town, out in the middle of nowhere. There was also a weird b-plot about some strange jelly-creatures migrating across the desert?

I can't remember much of what the main plot was about, but I remember it being a slow, contemplative story which seemed to take place mostly at night (almost in a Blade Runner kind of way?) in this weird, desolate town out in the desert.

Given that I took this book out from the library as a young teen, it's likely this was either in the young-readers section, or otherwise deemed to be suitable for kids.
The last detail I recall is that I would have read this around the same time I read the His Dark Materials series, so I think I was on a weird-fiction-for-kiddos kick.

Anyone out there have any ideas what this could have been?
posted by shanek to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to suggest Binti by Nnedi Okorafur as a long shot, but then I discovered that it only just came out in 2015. So definitely not that, even though it features an African setting and strange jelly-creatures.

(Well worth a read, btw, especially if you're interested in expanding your YA fantasy reads into more women/POC writers.)
posted by widdershins at 10:09 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

I'm wondering if it would be the Wess'Har series? They jelly creatures make me think of the Bezeri.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 11:08 AM on October 8

I assume it's not Children of Dune, but there are similar elements, so just in case.
posted by willnot at 11:27 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]

Children of Dune also popped to my mind. It could have ended up in a young adult section. It’s a not as wacko as God Emperor. Mostly teenagers plotting rebellion and running around at night trying to get over/under fences and subvert authority for the greater good. iirc.

There are sand worms out in the desert in huge numbers now because it’s like several hundred years after Dune. I think they may have changed or been going through some kind of larval phase because I recall there being more smaller worms as a general background rather than the few huge ones from Dune.
posted by affectionateborg at 1:25 PM on October 8

You may be thinking of Jan Mark's The Eclipse of the Century, an extremely weird book set mostly in an isolated town in an imaginary Central Asian country, largely at a museum (?) there, from the perspective of a British college student, and featuring strange jelly-like creatures. I think it was sold as young adult, and the timing should be about right.
posted by huimangm at 6:39 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]

This is a longshot but could it be "Alien Embassy" by Ian Watson?
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 8:23 PM on October 8

Oh wow, I think huimangm has cracked it! Thanks so much!
posted by shanek at 12:43 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

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