Brian Conn

The Fixed Stars

Published by Fiction Collective 2 (University of Alabama Press) in Spring 2010. The book is hard to describe, but it’s sort of experimental science fiction where people talk funny. There’s an excerpt online at Cavalier Literary Couture, and quite a bit at Google books; if you think you might be interested, have a look and see if it’s for you. Or maybe the blurbs and jacket copy will help:

Juxtaposing barbarity and whimsy, Brian Conn’s The Fixed Stars has the tenor of a contemporary fable with nearly the same dream-like logic.

At its heart is the John’s Day celebration and the interactions of a small community afflicted by a mysterious plague. Citizens — the infected and healthy alike — are routinely quarantined and then reintegrated into society in rituals marked by a haunting brutality. In a culture that has retreated from urbanism into the pastoral, a woman who nurtures spiders and a man who spins hemp exist alongside the mass acceptance of sexual proliferation. Conn delivers a compelling portrait of a calamitous era, one tormented by pestilence, disease, violence, senseless ritual, and post-late-capitalism. An unflinching look at a world impossible to situate in time, The Fixed Stars is mythic and darkly magical.

“Brian Conn’s wonderfully perilous crossbreeding of SF and innovative prose reads like what might result if Dhalgren and A Canticle for Leibowitz engaged in salacious acts with The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Fixed Stars is a funny, absurd, and beatifically strange book, one in which you simultaneously have the feeling that not one word is out of place and that everything that language brings to us opens onto a void. The Fixed Stars is the future of the future, and it is a truly outstanding debut.” — Brian Evenson

“With bits of machinery culled from post-apocalyptic science fiction, gothic horror, and ancient myth and ritual, Brian Conn has built a beguiling puzzle box of a novel. The Fixed Stars is a thorny, disjunctive fable that unfolds like a night-blooming flower. This is strange, intoxicating stuff.” — Jedediah Berry

It’s available from the publisher (though last I looked they had the wrong cover image on their site), from the usual online sources, and sometimes from good bookstores. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it, you can always ask them to order it for you. There is a PDF e-book edition, which as far as I know is only available directly through the publisher at the above link.

The book has been translated into French by Antoine Bargel, and is available from Aux forges de Vulcain under the title Les Étoiles fixes.

Reviews, Awards & Other Press

If you’re interested in a review copy, you can get one from the University of Alabama Press.


Some people interviewed me about the book and the process of writing it.


I used to wonder how typos could find their way into published books. A lot of people must proofread them, right? I don’t know if this is normal, but in the case of this book the answer is yes, a lot of people did proofread it, and all the typos I’m aware of were actually introduced during the proofreading process. It’s still not entirely clear to me how this happened. There were also many actual errors that were rectified during proofreading, and just these few anomalies where things somehow moved in the reverse direction. They’re quite minor, but you can pencil them into your copy if you like. Tell me if you find more.