book cover of Dioramas
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A novel by

In this hybrid novel—part essay, part prose poem, part travel narrative—Blair Austin brings us nose to the glass with our own vanishing world, what we preserve and at what cost.

In a city far in the future, in a society that has come through a great upheaval, retired lecturer Wiggins moves from window to window in a museum, intricately describing each scene. Whales gliding above a shipwreck and a lost cup and saucer. An animatronic forest twenty stories tall. urban wolves in the light of an apartment building. A line of mosquitoes in uniforms and regalia, honored as heroes of the last great war.
Bit by bit, Wiggins unspools the secrets of his world—the conflict that brought it to the brink, and the great thinker, Michaux, who led the diorama revolution, himself now preserved under glass.
After a phone call in the middle of the night, Wiggins sets out to visit the Diorama of the Town: an entire, dioramic world, hundreds of miles across, where people are objects of curiosity, taxidermied and posed. All his life, Wiggins has longed to see it. But in the Town, he comes face to face with the diorama’s contradictions. Its legacy of political violence. Its manipulation by those with power and money. And its paper-thin promise of immortality.

Genre: Science Fiction

Praise for this book

"Blair Austin's Dioramas is a novel of endless possibilities and conceptual fiction at its finest. While it bears resemblance to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, this novel is a masterwork in its own right and a major artistic leap for a debut novel." - Chigozie Obioma

"Dioramas immerses the reader in the most minute details of a vanished and preserved world - the sheen on the feathers of a theen finch, the sheer filament which war mosquitoes deployed to stitch shut wounds, the viscosity of varnish. Yet it does not hesitate to explore the macrocosm, to encompass it from afar within the bird's-eye-view. In lyrical, meticulous prose, this novel causes us to question the very nature of subject and object, and to contemplate our own vanishing world at a time when our future is far from certain." - Nina Shope

"Dioramas impressed me not only with its innovative structure and voice-driven narrative, but with its careful attention to the meticulous details of the world it weaves on the page. This is an absorbing and remarkable novel." - Anne Valente

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