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

LARB on Tropic of Kansas

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The Los Angeles Review of Books just posted a great long essay on Tropic of Kansas, with contributor Christopher Urban positioning the book as a rare example of a contemporary dystopia of resistance, and comparing it to both Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle and Richard Adams’s Watership Down.

Tropic of Kansas is an entertaining and engrossing read — and it shows that contemporary dystopian literature need not forgo aspects of ‘resistance’ but can, in fact, be all about it.”

LARB: “Dystopian Resistance: Christopher Brown’s ‘Tropic of Kansas'”

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” 

Upcoming appearances and “Book Trailer of the Day”

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Pic: Hometown crowd at BookPeople July 14 for the double header book launch of Tropic of Kansas and Nicky Drayden’s The Prey of Gods

Thanks to everyone who came out to our book launch at BookPeople in Austin last Friday, and to my readings and panels at Readercon last weekend. We had a standing room only crowd at the launch, and sold out of books at both events.

I will be in San Francisco this Sunday, July 23, 3pm at Borderlands Books in the Mission, reading from Tropic of Kansas and in conversation with my friend and colleague the brilliant writer and physician Michael Blumlein. Please come by if you are in the area and interested, and pass this information along to any friends you think might like to know about the event. More details here.

Tuesday, August 1, I will at Third Place Books in Seattle (Lake Forest Park), reading and in conversation my my friend and colleague Nisi Shawl, Tiptree Award-winning author of Everfair and Writing the Other.

After that I will be back in Texas for Armadillocon August 4-6 and Murder by the Book in Houston on August 24, with fellow Harper Voyager authors Marina J. Lostetter and Patrick Hemstreet. Full event calendar here.

In other news, The DIY minimalist trailer I made for Tropic of Kansas was yesterday’s Book Trailer of the Day at Shelf Awareness. Check it out:

NPR on TROPIC OF KANSAS

NPR on ToK

A frighteningly believable portrait of an American future that is closer than you want it to be.”

Nice new review of Tropic of Kansas up at NPR this morning, for those who like “modern dystopian buffet” with their Sunday brunch (and some nominal spoilers).

NPR: ‘Tropic Of Kansas’ Rips Dystopia From The Headlines

 

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”

TROPIC OF KANSAS — final copies unboxed

Via the Instagram feed of my publisher Harper Voyager, awesome video of my amazing editor David Pomerico unboxing the first box of final copies of my novel Tropic of Kansas, which will be hitting the shelves three weeks from tomorrow.