The Circumference of the World

Tachyon. Sept. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781616963620. pap. $17.95. SF
Tidhar’s (Neom) novel begins with obsession over an infamous, possibly mythical book that disappears upon reading and leaves death in its wake. The book, Lode Stars, if it even exists, either brings a truth too terrible to bear to an unsuspecting world or is a great hoax perpetrated by an inveterate con man. A mathematician has lost her grip on reality, a criminal collector has killed himself, and an entire religion has been founded in pursuit of the truth that is supposed to lie within its pages. This novel is one wild ride, combining the purported text of the infamous book itself with a paean to the Golden Age of SF that produced it. Longtime SF readers will easily spot the real-world parallels, but that doesn’t stop Tidhar from telling a compelling story of obsession and greed that will make readers think about the nature of reality.
VERDICT Readers who fell hard into the metafiction of The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge or the you-are-there gossip of Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee will likely be as obsessed with this book as the characters are with Lode Stars.
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