First Fiction Friday: Music from a Strange Planet

May 28, 2021

This genre-bending first collection of stories from author Barbara Black takes readers from the ravaged streets of dystopian cities to the inner battlefields of its characters. Mix the perception-blurring fables of Maria Mutch with a touch of Kafkaesque absurdity and a dash of Paige Cooper's poetics and you'll get  Music From a Strange Planet (Caitlin Press)—the perfect off kilter read to keep your head spinning.

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This striking and genre-bending debut short story collection promises to tilt your planet off kilter: 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. With a masterfully crafted tone that ranges from contemplative to comic, this unique short story collection is an off-beat and provocative exploration of grief, tenderness, and longing.   

From the ruins of a dystopian city to the inner self-created landscapes of a coma victim, Barbara Black is not afraid to place her characters at the core of their vulnerabilities. 

Music from a Strange Planet is for anyone interested in exploring identity, desire, and connection through eerie tones, quirky imagery, and sharp lyricism.  



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Music from a Strange Planet is like the intoxicating, perception-blurring fables of Maria Mutch’s When We Were Birds meeting the alienation and absurdity in Kafka. The poetic dystopias of Paige Cooper’s Zolitude meet the hypnotic intimate relationships in Kathy Page’s The Two of Us.







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Barbara Black writes fiction, flash fiction, poetry and librettos. Her work has been published in Canadian and international magazines including The Cincinnati Review, The New Quarterly, CV2, Geist and Prairie Fire. She was recently a finalist in the 2020 National Magazine Awards, nominated for the 2019 Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize and won the 2019 Geist Annual Literal Literary Post- card Story Contest. She lives, gardens, sings and motorcycles in Victoria, BC.

Find Barbara online:, Instagram @bblackwrites




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