Music from a Strange Planet
A striking and genre-bending debut short story collection from writer and composer Barbara Black, woven through with eerie tones, quirky imagery and sharp lyricism.
Off-beat, provocative, philosophical, Music from a Strange Planet traces the fault lines of identity and emotional attachment. Grief, tenderness, and longing soak the pages, admitting the reader into the intimate places of the heart: An awkward child envisions herself as a darkling beetle; an unemployed business analyst prefers water-walking over "rebranding" himself; after being kidnapped, a psychologist rejects the idea of marrying herself; and in the squatters' district, a biogenetically-altered couple visits an attic to observe a large cocoon. From the ruins of a dystopian city to the inner self-created landscapes of a coma victim, this unique story collection places characters at the core of their vulnerabilities. With a masterfully crafted tone and a register that ranges from contemplative to comic, the subversive, immersive stories in this collection brim with humanity. Expect your planet to tilt a little to the strange after reading this engaging, vivid and incisive collection of stories.
- Long-listed, The Miramichi Reader's Very Best Book Awards 2021
- Short-listed, Canadian Book Club Award 2023
- Winner, Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society Awards, Fiction 2023
- Short-listed, International Book Awards 2023
- Winner, IndieReader Discovery Award for Short Stories/Fiction 2023
- Winner, The Wishing Shelf Book Award for Adult Fiction 2022
“Barbara Black’s debut collection, Music from a Strange Planet, offers tales of obsession and transformation in which the melding of character with the phenomenal world is nothing less than astounding. With a surgeon’s exacting skill, she lays bare the often-strange music of the human heart.”
—M.A.C. Farrant, author of One Good Thing: A Living Memoir
“Be prepared. Be very prepared and preferably with your inner antennae on high alert as you enter into this translucent, transcendent, Kafkaesque world of illusions. Black goes beyond spider-like weaving as she spins her tales. Unusual, unorthodox, but always unique, they will stick to you.”
—Cathleen With, author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison
“Innovative stories, told and written well. … For a depth of engagement and content disproportionate to each tale’s length, Music from a Strange Planet delivers a fascinating, thought-provoking playlist.”
—Bill Arnott, author of Gone Viking
“Music From A Strange Planet, a debut story collection from award-winning Victoria writer, musician, singer and editor Barbara Black, is a remarkable celebration of the power of narrative that will both entertain and trouble the attentive reader. In lapidary prose that manages to be both spare and richly allusive, Black tells tales that seem drawn directly from the world of dreams and hallucination while fully fleshed out with observed or imagined detail. … Don’t miss this exciting and impressive debut.”
—Tom Sandborn, The Vancouver Sun
“Prepare to be transported to cities, to other countries, to a crumbling present and then off to a Centre for Biogenetics on an unnamed planet in the future. Other worlds unfold like wings in this marvellous book and beguile us. Reader, prepare to be enchanted.”
—Caroline Woodward, BC Bookworld
"These exhilarating stories, quick and sharp and tender, breach the barrier that separates civilized and wild, human and non. Senses fuse, flesh is transfigured; characters come to themselves at moments of metamorphosis, modulating to new forms of life. Barbara Black's magic is the kind that illuminates."
—John Gould, author of The End of Me