Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valitat from Melville House Publishing. In addition to having the most huggable, kissable book cover design of the year (truly one of my favorites), Aurorarama has a clever, trippy plot. From the publisher's website:
1908. New Venice--"the pearl of the Arctic"--a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate carriage-sleds and elegant victorian garb, of long nights and vistas of ice.If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of Aurorarama, all you have to do is answer this question:
But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qaartsiluni--"the time when something is about to explode in the dark." Local "poletics" are wracked by tensions with the Eskimos circling the city, with suffragette riots led by an underground music star, with drug round-ups by the secret police force known as the Gentlemen of the Night. An ominous black airship hovers over the city, and the Gentlemen are hunting for the author of a radical pamphlet calling for revolt.
Their lead suspect is Brentford Orsini, one of the city's most prominent figures. But as the Gentlemen of the Night tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a mysterious message from a long-lost love that compels him to act.
What transpires is a literary adventure novel unlike anything you've ever read before. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, it marks the beginning of a great new series of books set in New Venice-and the launch of an astonishing new writer.
To what classic science-fiction writer does critic Jacob Silverman at The National compare Valitat? (The answer can be found on this page)
Email your answer to email@example.com
Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. One entry per person, please. In order to give everyone a fair shake in the contest, please e-mail the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section. The contest closes at midnight on Dec. 9, at which time I'll draw the winning name. I'll announce the lucky reader on Dec. 10.
P.S. If you already own a copy of Aurorarama or just aren't that interested in it, why not think about trying to win it as a Christmas gift for that bibliophile on your list? I will be happy to ship to the person of your choosing. Heck, I'll even throw in some gift wrap (you don't mind if I use the Sunday comics, do you?).
P.P.S. This blog post at Moby Lives extends the ambience of the novel by pointing you to other blogs which talk about the book, including one of my favorite web-stops, Like Fire. And, if you really want to go deep-sea diving into the steampunk world of Aurorarama, you'll want to visit the fictional land's official newspaper blogspot, New Venice News.