HOW TO SPEND YOUR DOWN TIME.
CALLING MAJOR TOM BY DAVID M. BARNETT
It’s rare to find a genre fiction novel that dares to be subtle, gentle and heartwarming … or at least it has been until now. Here’s an unusual premise for a gripping science-fiction adventure: “What if you were so fed up with life that you took a one-way trip into space?” Curmudgeonly astronaut Thomas Major, en route to Mars in blessed isolation, finds his bitter worldview turned upside down when a communication error patches his phone through to a family facing all the complex challenges of life on Earth. Despite the millions of miles between them, their friendship grows to profound depths. The real cosmos being explored isn’t among the stars, but in the way each of our lives unfold. Every character contains worlds.
LATENIGHTTALES BY ÓLAFUR ARNALDS
Ólafur Arnalds is a composer whose work manages to bring together the worlds of contemporary classical and ambient electronica (picture Steve Reich writing a “Fantasia on Radiohead’s Kid A” perhaps). The Late Night Tales project asks different musical luminaries to curate the perfect mix CD for listening after midnight. Each one has a cover song recorded by the curator, and a spoken-word track with a story told by a notable narrator. On Arnalds’ album, the story is told by David Tennant; the cover song is Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” (reimagined as chamber music), and the soothing soundscapes curve from the smoky funk of Jai Paul to the transcendent winds and strings of Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld.