book cover of The Strange
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The Strange

(2023)
A novel by

 
 
A Locus Award Finalist
“Stretches the boundaries of the genre.” —The New York Times

1931, New Galveston, Mars: Fourteen-year-old Anabelle Crisp sets off through the wastelands of the Strange to find Silas Mundt’s gang who have stolen her mother’s voice, destroyed her father, and left her solely with a need for vengeance in this “page-turner” (Rebecca Roanhorse, New York Times bestselling author of Black Sun) from Nathan Ballingrud.

Since Anabelle’s mother left for Earth to care for her own ailing mother, her days in New Galveston have been spent at school and her nights at her laconic father’s diner with Watson, the family Kitchen Engine and dishwasher, as her only companion. When the Silence came, and communication and shipments from Earth to its colonies on Mars stopped, life seemed stuck in foreboding stasis until the night Silas Mundt and his gang attacked.

At once evoking the dreams of an America explored in Ray Bradbury’s
The Martian Chronicles and the harsher realities of frontier life in Charles Portis True Grit, Ballingrud’s “brilliant” (Paul Tremblay, New York Times bestselling author of The Cabin at the End of the World) novel is haunting in its evocation of Annabelle’s quest for revenge amidst a spent and angry world accompanied by a domestic Engine, a drunken space pilot, and the toughest woman on Mars.

Nathan Ballingrud’s stories have been adapted into the film
Wounds and the Hulu series Monsterland, The Strange is his first novel.


Genre: Horror

Praise for this book

"Nathan Ballingrud's debut novel is a surprising, thrilling, emotionally powerful bildungsroman, as Annabelle Crisp seeks revenge across the disturbing vistas and insular communities of the 1930s Martian frontier. The Strange is an instant classic." - Gwenda Bond

"Nathan Ballingrud is among my favorite living writers. The Strange conjures a Bradbury-esque sense of childhood longing and creates a scrappy heroine that brings to mind True Grit, and yet it is utterly original and surprising. His wonderfully lyric work always feels as if it's part of a dream you once had and never told to anyone--yet somehow Ballingrud knows." - Dan Chaon

"The Strange is an adventure tale of the best kind: an unusual setting with vivid characters and an unpredictable ending. With every turn of the page, I wondered what would happen next." - Charlaine Harris

"The most enjoyable novel I've read in years, no contest. Before The Strange, I never realized I wanted to be marooned on the dustbowl of Mars, joining an epic quest through ghost towns haunted by the living. Ballingrud is already a master of literary horror, his short stories consistently brilliant. But in his page-turner of a debut novel, that talent radiates brighter than ever before." - Mat Johnson

"Nathan Ballingrud's The Strange is a thrillingly inventive blend of the science fiction, western, and horror genres, a roaring adventure story of a girl, her gentleman robot, and a planet of ghosts. The perfect novel to take inside your heat tent and curl up with on a cold Martian night." - Owen King

"Ballingrud is one of my favorite contemporary authors. His work is elegant and troublingly, wonderfully disturbing." - Victor LaValle

"The Strange is utterly wonderful. Having harnessed the inventive worldbuilding of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, it embarks on an odyssey that becomes ever more unsettling and hallucinogenic. It's a wild tale set on a Wild West Mars, and I very much hope there'll be more." - Tim Major

"A worthy successor to Bradbury, this is far and away the best novel I've read all year. I can't recommend it highly enough." - Helen Marshall

"The protagonist, Anabelle Crisp, is a young woman out for revenge. Vividly drawn, she seethes with outrage and is armed with the sharpest of sharp tongues. I thoroughly enjoyed her journey. Pure joy, to finally see Nathan Ballingrud's astonishing storytelling gifts applied to the broad canvas of a novel. A killer score for those of us who are already hooked on the pathos and haunting power of his worlds, The Strange is sure to swell the ranks of the addicted immeasurably." - Sam J Miller

"A page-turning science-fantasy that sparks with originality, despite treading well-worn ground. Part western, part horror, part old-school SF, The Strange finds something new and compelling in the haunted deserts of Mars." - T R Napper

"I blasted through The Strange in a couple of days, a definite page-turner. The writing is lovely and poetic, and there's a great undercurrent of horror." - Rebecca Roanhorse

"So I settled down yesterday evening to make a start on this, and when it got going I found I couldn't stop. Very readable, compelling storytelling, a wonderfully engaging central character, full of atmosphere and beauty and strangeness. Thoroughly excellent space-western. Written in the spirit of Bradbury's Mars and capturing something of Bradbury's brilliance." - Adam Roberts

"As thrilling as it is heartfelt. Told through the memorable, feisty voice of a precocious young woman, The Strange explores greed and grief against an unforgiving landscape that bucks against the human obsession to conquer and own. The action and fascinating alternate history snare attention, and the characters - each haunted by ghosts of their own'glimmer off the page." - Nathan Tavares

"Ballingrud's brilliant fiction brims with imagination, integrity (I do not use that term lightly), and an authentic world-weary dread that bores directly into your heart." - Paul Tremblay

"The Strange breathes vivid life into a Mars that's both fascinating and frightening. The journey of Annabelle Crisp across those red sands - she's a wonderful character, full of energy and determination - was a battle for answers, for autonomy, for humanity itself. I rooted for her every step of the way." - Aliya Whiteley

"Star Wars meets True Grit in this cinematic tale of a human girl fighting to keep hope alive on a Martian world. Nathan Ballingrud compellingly blends frontier western with rootin-tootin space opera, and the result is epic in scope, thematically rich, and gleefully spooky in places. This is an atmospheric, immersive delight, and so evocative that I kept expecting red sand to trickle out from between the pages." - Josh Winning


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