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Telling the Map

Stories that sometimes begin in the hills of Kentucky and head out into complicated and sometimes hopeful futures.

“Precision was his watchword and his sacrament.”

There are ten stories here including one readers have waited ten long years for: in new novella “The Border State” Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story “The Voluntary State.” Competitive cyclists twins Michael and Maggie have trained all their lives to race internationally. One thing holds them back: their mother who years before crossed the border . . . into Tennessee.

Read an excerpt from “The Border State.”

Reviews & Previews

“In his inventive debut collection, Rowe bends the world we know, remaking regions of the southern United States. Appalachian settings, recurring characters, and dystopian themes of societal degradation link the stories. . . . Wild creativity, haunting imagery, and lyricism—as displayed in “Two Figures in a Landscape Between Storms”—urge readers forward . . . an immersive and original reading experience.”
Publishers Weekly

“A clutch of complex, persuasive visions of an alternative South.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A visionary writer known for writing haunting prose about people and societies with haunting problems.”
— Elizabeth Bear, author of Karen Memory

“Christopher Rowe is among my favorite authors. He writes a wild story, but his particular brand of weird is shot through with warmth and humor. His voice is addictive, his worlds astonishing. His tales lift your spirit, always needed but now in particular.”
— Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“Extraordinary and subtle stories rooted in landscapes — real and imagined — that Christopher Rowe has charted with a telling eye and a sure hand.”
— Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble


July 11, 2017: Launch Party, Joseph Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

Table of Contents

The Contrary Gardener
Another Word For Map is Faith [listen]
Jack of Coins
The Unveiling
Nowhere Fast
Two Figures in a Landscape Between Storms
The Force Acting On the Displaced Body
The Border State [excerpt]
The Voluntary State

Reviews of Christopher Rowe’s stories

“Rowe’s vision of an American South, hauntingly different from the one we know, begins with an artist sketching what appear to be children floating in a body of water. But as the inhabitants of this alternate reality know, the convincing cherubs that kick and struggle in the surf are not really children at all, but highly sophisticated decoys used by submerged predators. They are ‘nothing but extremities, nothing but lures growing from the snouts of alligators crouching on the sandy bottoms.’
Rowe intends this scene, and its suggestion of swimmers enticed to their deaths by a Spielbergian impulse to save youth at all costs, to be taken literally. But as a metaphor, it is an extremely potent representation of the science-fiction and fantasy community’s complicated relationship with the idea of nostalgia — a dynamic simultaneously defined by an inextinguishable yearning to search for lost time, and by an eternal vigilance for the dangers that even a quick glance in the rearview mirror can pose to forward-looking genres.”
— Dave Itzkoff, New York Times Book Review

“Imagery, actually, is Rowe’s great talent, and he keeps refining it — witness ‘The Force Acting on the Displaced Body’, which is a model of what an imaginative writer can accomplish.” — Matt Cheney, The Mumpsimus

“Wonderfully weird and challenging; always a half-step ahead of my complete understanding of what was really going on…. Fascinating imagery (like the flying Tennessee Highway Patrolmen) and high-concept ideas (like mind-control and sentient cars) made this story seem fresh and filled with a sense of wonder.” — SF Signal

“Rowe’s stories are the kind of thing you want on a cold, winter’s night when the fire starts burning low. Terrific.”
— Justina Robson, author of Glorious Angels

“As good as he is now, he’ll keep getting better. Read these excellent stories, and see what I mean.”
— Jack Womack, author of Going, Going, Gone

“If you’ve read and enjoyed any speculative fiction, then you probably come across Rowe’s great short stories.”

“… an archetypically Southern viewpoint on life’s mysteries, a worldview that admits marvels in the most common of circumstances and narrates those unreal intrusions in a kind of downhome manner that belies real sophistication.”

“As smooth and heady as good Kentucky bourbon.” — Locus

Christopher Rowe  (@ChristopherRowe) has published a couple of dozen short stories, and been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. His work has been frequently reprinted, translated into a half-dozen languages around the world, praised by the New York Times Book Review, and long listed in the Best American Short Stories. He holds an MFA from the Bluegrass Writer’s Studio and works at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Rowe and his wife Gwenda Bond co-write the Supernormal Sleuthing Series for children, and reside in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky.

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