A Natural History of Empty Lots

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My story “A Natural History of Vacant Lots”—really a piece of speculative nonfiction—is now available at Texas Architect and in print in the magazine’s September/October issue.

The Los Angeles Public Library has an interview about Tropic of Kansas up at their blog—some great questions that really bit into the material.

And the September 15 issue of the Times Literary Supplement has a roundup of new American dystopias, including Tropic of Kansas, remarking on the book’s “thriller-ish swagger,” “the rather richly imagined wasteland of [the book’s] mid-America,” and it’s “Twainian journey downriver to the Missisippi’s end,” and even pulling out Roland Barthes to explain the book’s narrative strategies for world building.

Texas Architect: “A Natural History of Vacant Lots”

Los Angeles Public Library: Interview with an Author: Christopher Brown

Wall Street Journal on TROPIC OF KANSAS

This weekend’s Wall Street Journal included a nice review of Tropic of Kansas by Tom Shippey—an unexpected highlight of a great weekend that also included an exceptional installment of Armadillocon, Austin’s annual conference on imaginative literature.

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And this morning, my interview with Rick Kleffel at the KQED studios in San Francisco is now available online (in both 1-hour and 7-minute versions), after airing on several Northern California NPR affiliates. Rick also has a generous review of Tropic of Kansas, asserting the book is neither dystopian nor utopian, but merely “utopian”—telling it like it is:

…As hellish as things look; climate change, economic disaster, and Untied, not United States – Brown is happy to offer us some solace as well. Not everybody with a modicum of power buys into the madness. The possibility for real change is present, and low technology is there to help. The experience of reading Tropic of Kansas is thrilling not just because Brown is a masterful plotter with Sig (sort of) maturing into a genuine hero, the kind of character that makes readers want to cheer out loud. One of the major thrill here is realizing that this is not the future. It’s the present, lightly re-mixed, with a plot that reality sadly seems to lack.

It’s hard to turn the pages fast enough as you read Tropic of Kansas. Brown writes set-pieces with a powerfully cinematic eye, but remembers to invest them in character. And, as you are reading, Brown’s visionary writing and world will drop your jaws every time his perceptions laser their way into the heart of today. This happens early and often; importantly, the book was written well before today, so that Brown’s vision seems topical without resorting to “ripped from the headlines.”

It’s also critical that this is not Another Book About the Dire, Awful World. Things are bad in Tropic of Kansas, but not entirely so. There’s a soupcon of “getting-better-ability” even in the most horrific situations. This isn’t dystopian or utopian fiction, but just, what you might call “Topian,” which is to say a system that has Humans in it and thus is incapable of reaching Heaven or Hell. We can imagine both, but we know in our hearts that it’s Purgatory for us…”

Wall Street Journal—”Double Dystopia

Narrative Species/Agony Column—”Christopher Brown’s Tropic of Kansas: Topian Fiction” 

Kirkus on TROPIC OF KANSAS

Preorder Tropic of Kansas from AmazonDelighted to see Tropic of Kansas in the latest roundup of summer reading recommendations at Kirkus, written by SF Signal editor John DeNardo:

In Brown’s all-too-plausible near future, the United States as we know it is no more. Instead of being a group of states ruled by the government, Middle America is a collection of warring territories where civil unrest and revolution are the new normal. The so-called Tropic of Kansas – described as ‘the parts of the Midwest that had somehow turned third world’ – is a demilitarized zone where civilian militias impose their own brand of cowboy justice. Into this arid wasteland comes Sig, the abandoned son of political dissidents, and Tania, his foster sister, a government investigator blackmailed into helping a tyrannical government hunt down her foster brother. Brown’s story moves quickly and he packs quite a lot of ideas and world building into every sentence. My advice: hang on and enjoy the dark but satisfying ride.

Kirkus Reviews: “Your Best Bets for Fascinating SF/F/H Reads in July”

Kelly Link on Tropic of Kansas

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“The great American novel about the end of America.” Pretty stoked by this wonderful quote from the amazing (and generous) Kelly Link—2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist and award-winning author of GET IN TROUBLE, PRETTY MONSTERS, and MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS—about TROPIC OF KANSAS, coming your way in just a few more weeks.

Preorder details here.