The Circumference of the World

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Pub Date 05 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 07 Nov 2023

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Caught between realities, a mathematician, a book dealer, and a mobster desperately seek a notorious book that disappears upon being read. Only the author, a rakish sci-fi writer, knows whether his popular novel is truthful or a hoax. In a story that is cosmic, inventive, and comedic, multi-award-winning author Lavie Tidhar (Central Station) travels from the emergence of life to the very ends of the universe.

[STARRED REVIEW] “This is a knockout.”
Publishers Weekly, Fall 2023 Top-Ten SF, Fantasy & Horror titles

Delia Welegtabit discovered two things during her childhood on a South Pacific island: her love for mathematics and a novel that isn’t supposed to exist. But the elusive book proves unexpectedly dangerous, attracting the attention of Oskar Lens, a Russian mobster in the midst of an existential crisis. When Delia’s husband goes missing, she seeks help from Daniel Chase, a young, face-blind book dealer.

Lode Stars was written by the infamous Eugene Hartley, legendary pulp science-fiction writer and founder of the Church of the All-Seeing Eyes. In Hartley’s novel, a doppelganger of Delia searches for her missing father in a strange star.

But is any of Lode Stars real? Was Hartley a cynical conman on a quest for wealth and immortality, creating a religion he did not believe in? Or was he a visionary who truly discovered the secrets of the universe?

Caught between realities, a mathematician, a book dealer, and a mobster desperately seek a notorious book that disappears upon being read. Only the author, a rakish sci-fi writer, knows whether his...

A Note From the Publisher

British Science Fiction, Prix Planète, and World Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming, The Escapement, Unholy Land, The Hood) is an acclaimed author of literature, science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, and middle grade fiction. Tidhar received the Campbell, Xingyun, and Neukom awards for the novel Central Station. In addition to his fiction and nonfiction, Tidhar is the editor of the Apex Best of World Science Fiction series and a columnist for the Washington Post. His speaking appearances include Cambridge University, PEN, and the Singapore Writers Festival. He has been a Guest of Honour at book conventions in Japan, Poland, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, China, and elsewhere; he is currently a visiting professor and writer in residence at the American International University. Tidhar currently resides with his family in London.

British Science Fiction, Prix Planète, and World Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming, The Escapement, Unholy Land, The Hood) is an acclaimed author of literature, science...

Advance Praise

[STARRED REVIEW] “World Fantasy Award winner Tidhar (Neom) wows with a mind-bending existential adventure that seeks to answer the age-old question of why humanity exists. In 2001 London, four characters converge around the lost science fiction book Lode Stars, written decades earlier by Eugene Charles Hartley. It’s rumored that Hartley, who also founded the sketchy Church of God’s All-Seeing Eyes, discovered the ‘true nature of reality’ and encoded it into the novel, which follows heroine Delia as she searches for her father. The novel also posits that humans are reconstructed memories swirling inside black holes, which are the eyes of God, and that alien ‘eaters’ feed on these reconstituted humans. Only possession of Lode Stars itself can ward off this danger. Albino mathematician Delia Welegtabit, who happens to have the same name as Lode Stars' heroine, is drawn into the hunt for the book by her husband, obsessive mathematician Levi. When Levi disappears, Delia turns to Daniel Chase, a rare book collector, to investigate—but then Daniel is himself kidnapped by mobster Oskar Lens, who believes in the book’s power and wants it to protect him from the eaters. Toggling between perspectives and the ethereal text of Lode Stars, Tidhar’s slippery metafictional tale lyrically entangles scientific fact, mysticism, and mental illness. This is a knockout.”
Publishers Weekly

[STARRED REVIEW] “Inquisitive, daring, and rich with possibilities, The Circumference of the World is a speculative masterpiece.”

“Brilliant and bizarre, Lavie Tidhar’s The Circumference of the World is many things—but fundamentally it is a love letter to the Golden Age of science fiction.”
—Molly Tanzer, author of Vermilion and Creatures of Will and Temper

“Ingeniously constructed and stylistically protean, this seven-course banquet of a novel glistens with the Golden Age of science fiction.”
—James Morrow, award-winning author of Shambling Towards Hiroshima

“Maybe the universe’s energy really does get recycled, because this eclectic speculative novel manages to be simultaneously contemporary, nostalgic, and retro in a way that wouldn’t be unfamiliar to the SF icons to which it pays tribute.... Tidhar’s rich portrayal of the pulpy golden age of science fiction, distinctive characters, and nimble turns of phrase make for a cool confection.”

“Tidhar’s melancholy, beautiful and yet improbably light-touch narrative, meanwhile, is structured like a nesting doll.”
—New Scientist

“Tidhar wins it all with this magnificently original mind-bender of a novel about a missing husband and a mysterious book that disappears as soon as you read it. The Circumference of the World is two parts Philip K. Dick, two parts Brothers Strugatsky, and six parts blow your f**king mind.”
—Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“I always have been partial to dangerous books, and to fictions about dangerous books, and the one at the swirling center of this exhilarating tour de force is a doozy—just like every book by Lavie Tidhar.”
—Andy Duncan, three-time World Fantasy Award winner

“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.”
Library Journal

The Circumference of the World is an ambitious and ambiguous book showing Tidhar at top form.”
—Chicago Review of Books

“Reading a new Lavie Tidhar novel is always a treat. You can count on engaging prose paired with an inventive story and The Circumference of the World certainly fits that bill.”
The Speculative Shelf

“A genre-splitting poetic expression that pays homage to classic science fiction with call-outs and appearances by Campbell, Heinlein, and others.”
Those Crazy Books

“Wow! I can’t remember the last book I read like this that wasn’t written by Phillip K. Dick! The book was trippy and weird, leaving me wondering what really happened in it in all the best ways.”
Disciples of Boltax

5/5 stars “This is a gripping read, a blend of science fiction and fantasy with a little detective fiction thrown in. I’ve read other books by the author and have also found them to be strange and beautiful. I loved this.”
—The Book Lover’s Boudoir

“Tidhar has been compared to writers like Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut, but, with the story’s spiraling structure and novel-within-a-novel mystery, the writers that came to my mind the most while reading were Jorge Luis Borges and Michael Ende.”
—Ancillary Review of Books

“A creative space opera strewn with Easter eggs from science fiction and fantasy.
Woven Tale Press

“Like matter spiraling into a black hole—everything here simply lights up, bathing the reader with its intense radiation. An amazing read, strongly recommended.”
—Blue Book Balloon

“This book contains a memoir, a hard-boiled detective section, a prison journal, portions of a non-existent book from the pulp era of sci-fi, and the letters of writers. It’s brilliant.”

Praise for the works of Lavie Tidhar

On Central Station

[STARRED REVIEW] “A fascinating future glimpsed through the lens of a tight-knit community.”
Library Journal

“It is just this side of a masterpiece — short, restrained, lush — and the truest joy of it is in the way Tidhar scatters brilliant ideas like pennies on the sidewalk.”
NPR Books

On The Violent Century

“A tour de force”
—James Ellroy, bestselling author of L.A. Confidential

“A stunning masterpiece”
The Independent

“A new masterpiece”
Library Journal

On the World Fantasy Award winner, Osama

“Bears comparison with the best of Philip K. Dick”
The Financial Times

World Literature Today

[STARRED REVIEW] “World Fantasy Award winner Tidhar (Neom) wows with a mind-bending existential adventure that seeks to answer the age-old question of why humanity exists. In 2001 London, four...

Marketing Plan

  • International author appearances and readings at major trade and genre conventions, including the World Science Fiction and World Fantasy conventions; Celsius (Spain); and Readercon (Boston)
  • Book launch event at Forbidden Planet bookstore (London)
  • Promotion targeting U. S., Israeli, British, and Middle Eastern themed online media, including reviews and interviews to include NPR, the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Review of Science Fiction, UK Guardian, and the Chicago Tribune
  • Planned book giveaways on Goodreads, SF Signal, and other online outlets
  • Print and digital ARC distribution via Goodreads, NetGalley, and Edelweiss+
  • Instagram and blog tour, Reddit AMA, and social media campaign by the publisher and author
  • International author appearances and readings at major trade and genre conventions, including the World Science Fiction and World Fantasy conventions; Celsius (Spain); and Readercon (Boston)
  • Book...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781616963620
PRICE $17.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 53 members

Featured Reviews

I’ve read Lavie Tidhar before and liked it very much. Now it was time to fall in love. What can I say? I love clever books and I cannot lie. And Tidhar in this novel absolutely dazzles with his cleverness.
I also love books about books and writers. Naturally. In this novel, Tidhar invents a golden age science fiction author who buys into his own fiction and ends up inventing a religion. (That sounds vaguely familiar, no? ;) ) The book that started it all becomes a much-searched-for near-mythical impossible-to-obtain object. And a cast of fascinating original characters get obsessed with looking for it.
The book is told from each of their perspectives, plus the biographical tale of the author and the oh-so-appropriate dénouement. That’s a lot to pack into just 256 pages. But not for an author of Tidhar’s caliber. Boy, can that man write. There’s such beauty and succinctness to his narration.
I dislike oversized overblown narratives as much as I love clever books—a lot. And this story is just about perfect in both length and execution. Because it’s too good to put down for long and is easily possible to read in one day as I did.
Impossible to genre class this one; science fiction, sure, but also so much more. A grand adventure. A love letter to science fiction. A pure joy to read. A stunning puzzle of a book. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

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Delia Welegtabit is from Vanuatu and her birth is recounted, the local pidgin spelled out dialectically, related to English but not a form most speakers would recognize since it also has Polynesian and French included I thinks The birthing is pretty accurate to anyone who has experienced one that didn’t involve an epidural. When Delia is handed to her momma, we discover she is an albino.

This is sci-fi and is set sometime in the future. Delia now lives in London. She finds a copy of book that doesn’t exist, one Lode Stars by Eugene Charles Hartley released in 1962. Coincidently the main characters name is Delia.

Ship of Theseus idea in relation to ourselves, expertly put into words. Math as God idea, what is called science fiction. Why we are here, of course a terrible question without religion. What is reality, is this a simulation?

Levi Armstrong is lovers of Delia’s. He’s a mathematician and fanatic about it and his goal of doing something great before he turns 30. He seems to be connected a bad man, a monster. She also had Malachi back on her home island, he is also an albino I believe like Delia.

There seems to be some entity or collective at the end of time that cannot see Delia for some reason. She is occluded.

There are several parts to this. The second starts with the hook seller recounting meeting Delia in first person. The guy is off because he can’t see peoples faces, at least not normally. It’s curious what she hears and doesn’t from him, and he is put into a role like in a book even though it’s not him.

The third is about Oskar Lens past, specifically his time in prison in Siberia. He seems crazy, he thinks some people are those who are simulating the original Lens in a black hole. It’s a weird mix of dying earth and big idea, like Implied Spaces or House of Suns but contemporary. It’s a gnostic take on the world.

There are also parts from published works by Eugene Hartley. There is a mention to the Encyclopedia Galactica Foundation. Honestly the mix of reality to fiction to the far future is super cool. And again a part that is Hartley’s biography.

Expertly crafted, bordering on magical realism and sci-fi. It’s oddly trippy at times, I never use that term lightly. It’s a question of reality, and would it even matter if reality was not what we thought it was? Institution vs belief, great thought provoking ideas.

It’s a good mindacrewer, almost like pulp and paying obvious homage to them.

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"In our language, the word for book is the word for people, is the word for food."
I love books about books. THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE WORLD begins with a woman's hunt for a book which does not exist, opens into a dreamscape of mobsters, legendary pulp writers, and galactic travellers, and leaves the reader burning with even more questions. It certainly delivers on the mystery. This book is a dialectic of discovery and being, and a reminder of the importance of stories to our humanity.

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This book is a story within a story, a love letter to pulp sci-fi, an exploration of reality, all my favourite things. As you read each part, another piece of the puzzle satisfyingly falls into place: Delia and her missing mathematician husband, the book detective who can't see faces, the Russian mobster, and the mysterious book and its author.

I devoured it in like four hours and I can't wait to reread it. It's such a clever, thought-provoking book, one that I will have trouble describing but will definitely recommend. I enjoyed the author's style and will definitely be reading his other works.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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I've read a few of Lavie Tidhar's books, and have enjoyed them. But The Circumference of the World is in almost a completely different category. This genre-bending book follows a number of different stories, protagonists, and styles as it pieces together the tale of Eugene Charles Hartley, a science fiction author whose mysterious novel is at the centre of various searches for the truth of the universe. At times a noir detective story, a science fiction epic, a crime thriller, and a biography, Tidhar does a masterful job spinning these terribly disparate characters and stories into a cohesive whole.
I don't want to give too much away, but here's the gist: Delia is looking for a book written by science fiction recluse Eugene Charles Hartley. Hartley's book, Lode Stars, both holds the key to the answers of the universe and doesn't exist, depending on whom you ask. Delia looks for help from a rare book dealer, who runs afoul of a gangster who is suffering an existential crisis, who wants to find a copy of the book, whose protagonist is also Delia, who is searching for her father. It sounds wildly confusing, but Tidhar wrangles everything into a beautiful, engaging story told through various perspectives with different styles. At the heart of everything is Hartley, who seems to know everyone in sci-fi's Golden Age of publishing and whose story might be the key to the universe.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Refreshing, engaging, interesting, and terrifically well-written.

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What if I were to hand you a book that would disappear once you had finished reading it? You'd probably say Amazon can do this anytime they want since they only sell us the right to read an electronic copy of a book, but not the book itself, and they can erase it from our e-readers anytime they want.

You wouldn't be wrong. But what if I told you that this book, called LODE STARS, by pulp author Eugene Charles Hartley, has encoded within it the means to defend ourselves against the Eaters, entities that destroy humans who are reconstituted memories that live within black holes, called the "Eyes of God"? Would you want a copy of this book? Would you read it? Would you believe it?

Yep, Lavie Tidhar's fertile imagination is at it again. The same mind that gave us THE ESCAPEMENT (which may still have readers scratching their heads - in a good way) brings us THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE WORLD, a novel that starts out innocently enough with the story of a young girl in love with mathematics, but makes its way to intergalactic space and the weirdness of black holes - among other things.

The story jumps to the year 2001, where Delia Welegtabit, that young girl now all grown up, married to mathematician Levi Armstrong who is obsessed with explaining the workings of the universe through mathematics. That's not the only thing he's obsessed with. As you might guess by now, the object of his obsession is the aforementioned LODE STARS. After he disappears searching for it Delia hires rare book dealer Daniel Chase to find him. Chase suffers from face-blindness (prosopagnosia) which makes him an interesting choice to go looking for Levi. In the process of looking for Levi, Chase gets interested in LODE STARS, and focuses his search on rare book shops hoping he can turn up a copy which will in turn help him find Levi. Who he does find is one Oskar Lens, a Russian underworld figure with a criminal past, which includes a stint at a prison in Siberia. Lens also wants to find a copy of LODE STARS, because he wants to protect himself from the Eaters.

Eventually, we get to meet Hartley, a short story writer who never quite made it to the big time, although he hobnobbed with all the big names of the pulp era. Tidhar is well known as a writer who is fond of the history of the field, and in THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE WORLD he is not shy about having Hartley interact with some of the biggest names in the field at the time. In a call out to the Church of Scientology, Heinlein tells Hartley "You know...if you really want to make a million bucks, Gene, you should start your own religion." Hartley does just that, starting the Church of the All-Seeing Eyes. Hartley does a lot more name dropping along the way. We not only hear about Asimov and Clarke, but Bradbury and A.E. Van Vogt also get shout outs. John Clute and Nick Mamatas get mentioned as well. We also get a glimpse into Hartley's thoughtful and philosophical side. While recounting an early Westercon, Hartley says "You have to understand - we were more than
writers, we were prophets of a new age. We could see the future, we could imagine it and give it shape."

We also end up within LODE STARS itself, as a version of Delia (yeah, so Delia is looking for a book that has herself as a character in it, but doesn't know it), while looking for something called "The Occlude", finds a stash of "Ancient obsolete objects of all kinds piled up everywhere", and the list is, well astounding. Without giving too much away, she discovers items from stories from Asimov, Herbert, Van Vogt, Pohl, and others. Tidhar is clearly having fun rooting around science fiction's rich history, which Hartley himself is doing with the pages of LODE STARS.

Much like THE ESCAPEMENT, there is no direct path to the ending, nor does the ending give a neat resolution to the mystery of Hartley and LODE STARS. But then again, it's not clear that the book is about those things. Tidhar is a master of misdirection, his novels tend to be a lot deeper that what appears at the surface, and THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE WORLD is no different. The novel is a great, enjoyable, winding ride, and anyone who likes Tidhar's work should enjoy it.

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Tachyon Publishing for an advance copy of this new historical, science fiction-aly thriller, with a bit of mathematics, autofiction, futurism parody, and much more.
True disclosure. This text mentions a book called Lode Stars that might have come out in the year 1962. I swear that I had a book that I read a few times called Lode Stars, with a blue background cover, a Del Rey imprint in the corner, Lode Stars in a big title, a cover blurb I can't remember, an author I can't remember, a creature or a space suit attached by hose or line to a space ship with a large yellow or gold sun in the foreground. I can see this as clear as day. Can remember liking the book, but can't remember anything about this. I've looked all over the place, boxes of old books, the Internet, but it remains a mystery, like the book mentioned in the novel. I can't shake this memory at all. Even typing this makes me think about the book, and enjoying it, and still I can't remember who, what, where or why. As this book, The Circumference of the World is by Lavie Tidhar, one of the best, and most interesting writers out there, I feel honored that he somehow mined my memories, for his story.

The book starts with a young woman born on the island of Vanuatu, Delia Welegtabit. Delia found that she had a gift for math, and was one of the view people to read a science fiction book entitled Lode Stars, by the writer Eugene Hartley, who was based on Vanuatu during World War II, wrote pulpy science fiction, but was more famous for the self-help religion he started. Delia lives in London with her husband, both teachers, but her husband is consumed with making a mathematical breakthrough by the age of 30, and the fact his wife read Lode Stars, which features a character named after his wife Delia. When her husband disappears, Delia hires a young book scout to find both her husband and a copy of Lode Stars, a man by the name of Daniel Chase. Chase has a problem with seeing faces, which makes looking for her husband difficult, but his efforts make him cross paths with a Russian gangster names Oskar Lens, who read Lode Stars while in a gulag in Russia, a book that changed his life, and drives him to find it again.

I was going to skip an intro to the book, because there is so much to take in and I could not convey in a paragraph or even twenty. For a smaller book, there is a tremendous amount going on. Tidhar brings in the weirdness of the early Golden Age science fiction writers, the bookshops that filled London with books of mystery and space, many that are gone. Tidhar's story covers outer space, and more importantly inner space, that sense that life is more than we are living it, and there is a clue somewhere somehow, but we just can't find it. For the nerd there are tons of references from classic books the Heechee, the Galactic Britannica of Asimov, real people, and fake people sharing conversations that might have happened somewhere else, or maybe they happened here. Tidhar has such a gift in creating characters that seem real, mixing them with real people makes the story stronger, and hit that much harder. Combined with his lack of fear in writing, and the sheer audacity of his ideas, makes for a powerful book. This is a book about loss, the fear of being a parent, not living to potential, and realizing like a modern Scaramouche that the world is mad, and laughter is sometimes the only solution.

A book that is easy to recommend for everything that it deals with, math, science, science fiction, thrills and speculation. People who like books that make one think, or books that make a person think and yet really touch a reader will enjoy this. Fans of Lavie, Tidhar, like myself will be in awe, as this book really hit so many buttons with me. I can't see what his mind comes up with next.

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The Circumference of the World by Lavie Tidhar

What a trip this book was! I have heard the name Lavie Tidhar for years but had never read anything by this author - I didn’t even know his gender. But I had always heard good things so when I saw a book by him on NetGalley, I requested and received an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The description talked about a mystery involving a science fiction book that didn’t exit that held the secrets of the universe. Sounded interesting, I thought, I’ll give it a go.

Wow! I can’t remember the last book I read like this that wasn’t written by Phillip K. Dick! The book was trippy and weird, leaving me wondering what really happened in it in all the best ways.

Each section is from the point of view from a different character - the wife of the missing mathematician, the face-blind bookseller, the erudite ex-Bratva thug, and so on. Each section is in a different writing style and tone that fit the character. A large chunk towards the end is told in epistolary format, advancing the story through fictitious correspondence of golden age science fiction writers.

I’m still not exactly sure how it ended, but I keep thinking about it, so I guess I liked this book! Give it a shot and you may like it too.

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This book is wild. Part story (a strange story, but still, recognisable fiction), part satire and a lot about humanities search for meaning, it's fun and confusing and I loved it. There is philosophy and (I think) making fun of Scientology. This book reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut, in the ridiculous ride that still touched my heart. It's hard to explain why this is so good, but its not a long book, so I recommend reading it and making your own, confused decisions.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley.

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A book that creates a whole religion. A book that reviews who we are in this universe, from a very small born in a tiny island from the Pacific to the inmensity of the cosmos. Hugely ambitious and succesful in just 300 pages. Highly recomended.

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Lavie Tidhar delivers a homage to science fiction in the form of a self-referential narrative, providing us with numerous entertaining parallels and references. It's a fragmented story, composed of various perspectives, and leaves the reader free to interpret the ending in many ways, which can both please and displease. He skillfully blurs the boundaries between reality and imagination, to the point where by the end, one doubts where they are! Is it a book within a book within a book?

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Lavie Tidhar's new novel is a fiendishly ramified mixture of narratives. In late 90s London, Delia Welegtabit's husband, Levi, has disappeared. Levi may or may not have owned a copy of the elusive novel Lode Stars, upon which pulp legend Eugene Charles Hartley apparently founded a religion (no, definitely NOT that one, despite one of the categories Amazon has filed this book under). A London gangster and his pliant police stooge want the book and engage second hand book dealer, Daniel Chase, to find it.

That's the first layer. We also learn about Delia's early life on the island of Vanuatu (also visited by Hartley) and about Hartley's career and life - part of this is told through letters to and about Hartley by various early SF luminaries - Tidhar rendering many different voices here, all totally believably.

We also read an extract from The Book itself, the story of (another) Delia seeking her lost father deep in space, the setting keying into a mythology that Hartley either believed or invented. It's all about the destination of humankind, which is to both swept into a black hole at the centre of the galaxy and preserved as information. All of these narrative levels interact, with coincidences, names and versions of names, apparent timeslips and repeated themes (shadows, eyes). Some of these might be explained by Hartley's authorship of Lode Stars and his making allusions to the works of his contemporaries: others - less so.

Gangster Oskar Lens's career as a black market dealer in the failing Soviet Union features too, as does the London second-hand book scene ('My highest ambition had always been to open my own bookshop on Cecil Court'). It's a bewildering ride through 20th century history and the birth of modern SF (taking in the rise of modern conventions, as well as gatherings in a Holborn pub) something Tidhar has deep knowledge of (it was fun to spot allusions, especially in the Lode Stars extract, to names, themes and artefacts from various genre classics: I'm sure I missed many). It is though much more than that, touching on questions about the nature of reality and the meaning of life as well as - perhaps - commenting on how the SF writer of a religion may be affected by that and, possibly, escape the trap he's set himself.

There is some lovely wordplay here ('Dewey-eyed librarians') as well as nice pulpy (but culturally appropriate) language ('Paperbacks started back at me from the shelves without saying a damn thing', 'My aunt had died of cancer. She wasted away like a cigarette.') as well as starkly beautiful language ('I felt the press of stars overhead, and they were cold, and bright, and indifferent.')

I really enjoyed The Circumference of the World. As a book, it is a thing of its own, not like anything I'd come across before, but a great read crammed with ideas and glorious writing: there is simply so much material here, I think some writers could and would make 3 or 4 books of it but we have all that concentrated in a short novel. Somehow that compression means that - like matter spiralling into a black hole - everything here simply lights up, bathing the reader with its intense radiation.

An amazing read, strongly recommended.

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This was a fun ride, substantially more meta than his other novels, think Philip K. Dick ([book:Ubik|22590][book:Ubik|22590][book:Ubik|22590]). We have a book, a book about the book, a book about the author of the book, and a narrative that challenges the reality of everything in the novel. Whee!

Worth reading more than once, maybe more than twice, though I might need Douglas Hofstadter to talk me down from the top levels of re-interpretation.

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Neom last year was one of my favorite SFs, I loved the stacked story within a story structure of it and Lavie Tidhar has done it again. The Circumference of the World is a similarly structured story that begins simply enough with a woman seeking her missing husband. From there the story spirals out, the book he was seeking - others are seeking it. Then we see the madness that drives some people to seek the book and ultimately the strange way reality has twisted for individuals affected by a religion that idolizes? Uses? the book. I spent so much of the book going ‘what the hell?’ in the best way and by the end, I’m not going to lie I was so amused.

First off, I’m going to say as he says at the end. The religion in this book is fictional and not based on any real world religion. But if you know you’re history of religions… or cults… you may see some **interesting** parallels to some real world things.

And that is the real selling point for me here. This is a story about a book. Is the book truth or is it fiction? And are the people who are interacting with the book genuinely experiencing these things or is it simply giving voice to deeper problems. I would 100% would have read so many more of these stories to see more people in this world (and universe) and how they were/are affected by the actions and items here.

It was a wild ride, a fun ride, and one I loved. I really recommend this for my fans of weird SFF or for a fan of religion/cults in fiction. It will likely tickle your nerd buttons.

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The Circumference of the World
The Circumference of the World by Lavie Tidhar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great novel that should have been titled The Lodestar. I mean, void, man, sure, it would have sounded like a pulpy SF novel, but it's YOU, Mr. Tidhar, writing it, so it's not only f***ing self-aware and erudite, it's a commentary and it glories in the subject matter while pulling off one hell of a hat-trick of an ACTUAL SF novel all at the same time.

What the hell am I talking about?

The Circumference of the World starts out as one great Noir-type investigation novel featuring the murder of a book seller and the questionable reality of a novel named The Lodestar written by a certain Eugene Charles Hartley who used to bump shoulders with all the late great SF writers like the big three and all the old SF greats. This fictional SF writer seems to be a mash-up between PKD and L. Ron Hubbard, and the missing, even apocryphal book in question seems to have a mathematical equation hidden within it that prevents the Eaters from nibbling away at our holographic universe that is lodged in the great eye of a final black hole at the end of time.

We get sections in this novel from unbelievers, true believers, and the creator, himself. I can't tell you which I love the most. The mystery is absolutely hard-boiled and perfection. The hard SF is fascinating and hard-core, feeling right out of Pohl's best, and the Golden Age SF retrospective brought tears to my eyes, being a huge fan of all these authors and having read them all.

Mr. Tidhar's love of SF is real, ya'll, and the total shift in styles and tone and voice just makes me want to clap with joy. Again, he shows me what a world-class talent he is.

No spoilers, but this novel is truly delicious. Even if the title lacks... um... everything. :)

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