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Speculative Los Angeles

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The debut title in a new city-based anthology series featuring all-new stories with speculative, sci-fi, and paranormal themes—each using distinct neighborhood settings as a launching pad.

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$16.95 $12.71

What people are saying…

“A stimulating anthology of 14 futuristic L.A. fables . . . Some of the best of these tales seem illumined by the humanistic spirit of the late Ray Bradbury, poet laureate of Southern California fantasy literature.”
Wall Street Journal

“[Speculative Los Angeles] is a swath of tales that are both wildly imaginative and emotionally grounded, speculations that not only imagine our possible futures but illuminate the collective anxieties of our unsettled and unsettling present.”
Los Angeles Times

Speculative Los Angeles is a thrill ride of grand ideas and warnings. Take a place that already defines the future of culture, add fourteen unbound minds, and you get a collection that wows the imagination like no other.”
—Michael Connelly, author of the best-selling Harry Bosch series

“The problem of buying books for others can be solved by offering the equivalent of the literary box of chocolates: the anthology . . . For Californians, or people who just like the West Coast, there’s Speculative Los Angeles, edited by Denise Hamilton.”
Washington Post, recommended by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Speculative Los Angeles is a new venture from Akashic Books, which has published an impressive series of original anthologies of noir fiction centered on various cities. This is the first in a series doing the same thing for speculative fiction, beginning with LA.”
Locus Magazine

“Accessible, challenging, and fun by turns, Speculative Los Angeles possesses everything a fan could want.”
New York Journal of Books

“As a city, Los Angeles is, itself, a bit stranger than fiction, all at once it is both a major American metropolis sprawling hundreds of square miles across Southern California and a collection of smaller, multicultural neighborhoods that can change from block to block. It’s a place where there is both great wealth and abject poverty, where natural disasters are only a moment away and where you can go skiing and hit the beach all in the same day, if you’re especially intrepid.”
AirTalk with Larry Mantle (KPCC)

“14 writers explore the fantastic in short stories that crisscross L.A. county, taking readers into alternate pasts, supernatural presents and dystopian futures . . . Speculative Los Angeles shows the breadth of worlds that can be created inside Los Angeles.”
Los Angeles Daily News

“The 14 narratives Hamilton has gathered present us with a vision of Los Angeles refracted, grounding the fantastic in the real.”
Alta Journal

“14 outstanding stories of weird and uncanny happenings in the City of Angels . . . Each story presents a fresh take on the magic and strangeness of LA past, present, and future, and the characters are representative of the diverse region, caught in situations ranging from surreal to chilling. Readers should snap this up.”
Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review, Pick of the Week

“Many [stories] have a distinctly gritty and postapocalyptic flavor that takes advantage of a uniquely L.A. vibe.”
Library Journal

“Los Angeles is a particularly appropriate and broadly appealing place to begin the series, given its outsized role in the American imagination . . . This appealing and varied collection offers 14 speculative stories set in neighborhoods around Los Angeles, but with interests that go beyond the local.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers

“The contributing authors skillfully capture the presences of different Los Angeles neighborhoods that become characters all on their own, teetering on the precipice of many possibilities . . . An excellent collection of what-ifs that will pique readers’ imaginations.”

“Echoing Akashic’s popular city-specific ‘Noir’ series, this first in what promises to be an intriguing new run of books looks at weirdly wonderful Los Angeles and sees changelings, dirigibles, jacaranda men, psychic death cults, robot nursemaids, a walled-in canyon for the rich, and an alternate city where Spanish land grants endured. With brand-new stories from Aimee Bender, Alex Espinoza, Francesca Lia Block, Charles Yu, Duane Swierczynski, and more.”
Library Journal, Barbara Hoffert’s Prepub Alert

“Here we have 14 writers from that city weaving speculative stories of changelings, black holes, robot nursemaids and much more weirdness besides.”
David M. Kelly

A Booklist Shout ‘n’ Share Title to Watch (July 2020)

“The stories here move among all of Los Angeles’ gritty and bright corners.”
Kirkus Reviews

“There is something for everyone here.”
Exclusive Magazine

Critical praise for Los Angeles Noir:

Winner of an Edgar Award (for “The Golden Gopher” by Susan Straight)

A Los Angeles Times Best Seller

Winner of a Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Book Award

A Book Sense Notable Pick

Two stories selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2008 (“Mulholland Dive” by Michael Connelly and “The Hour When the Ship Comes In” by Robert Ferrigno)

“These seventeen very different stories confirm just how many places LA has become . . . Janet Fitch, as usual, operates at a scary level of intensity. Her story, ‘The Method,’ opens with a string of zippy one-liners that out-Chandler Chandler . . .”
Los Angeles Times


As an incubator of the future, Los Angeles has long mesmerized writers from Aldous Huxley to Octavia E. Butler. With its natural disasters, Hollywood artifice, staggering wealth and poverty, and urban sprawl, one can argue that Los Angeles is already so weird, surreal, irrational, and mythic that any fiction emerging from this place should be considered speculative. So, bestselling author Denise Hamilton commissioned fourteen stories (including one of her own) and did exactly that. In Speculative Los Angeles, some of the city’s most prophetic and diverse voices reimagine the metropolis in very different ways.

In these pages, you’ll encounter twenty-first-century changelings, dirigibles plying the suburban skies, black holes and jacaranda men lurking in deep suburbia, beachfront property in Century City, walled-off canyons and coastlines reserved for the wealthy, psychic death cults, robot nursemaids, and an alternate LA where Spanish land grants never gave way to urbanization.

As with our city-based Akashic Noir Series, each story in Speculative Los Angeles is set in a distinct neighborhood filled with local color, landmarks, and flavor. Since the best speculative fiction provides a wormhole into other worlds while also commenting on our own, that is exactly what you’ll find here.

Featuring brand-new stories by: Charles Yu, Aimee Bender, Lisa Morton, Alex Espinoza, Ben H. Winters, Denise Hamilton, Lynell George, Stephen Blackmoore, Francesca Lia Block, Duane Swierczynski, Luis J. Rodriguez, A.G. Lombardo, Kathleen Kaufman, and S. Qiouyi Lu.

Table of Contents


Part I: Changelings, Ghosts, and Parallel Worlds
“Antonia and the Stranger Who Came to Rancho Los Feliz” by Lisa Morton (Los Feliz)
“Detainment” by Alex Espinoza (El Sereno)
“Peak TV” by Ben H. Winters (Culver City)
“Past the Mission” by Denise Hamilton (Encino)

Part II: Steampunks, Alchemists, and Memory Artists
“Where There Are Cities, These Dissolve Too” by S. Qiouyi Lu (La Puente)
“If Memory Serves” by Lynell George (Echo Park)
“Love, Rocket Science, and the Mother of Abominations” by Stephen Blackmoore (Pasadena)

Part III: A Tear in the Fabric of Reality
“Purple Panic” by Francesca Lia Block (Studio City)
“Maintenance” by Aimee Bender (Miracle Mile)
“West Torrance 2BR 2BA w/Pool and Black Hole” by Charles Yu (West Torrance)

Part IV: Cops and Robots in the Future Ruins of LA
“Walk of Fame” by Duane Swierczynski (Hollywood)
“Jaguar’s Breath” by Luis J. Rodriguez (Angeles National Forest)
“Garbo on the Skids” by A.G. Lombardo (Downtown Los Angeles)
“Sailing That Beautiful Sea” by Kathleen Kaufman (Century City)

Read a Q&A with editor Denise Hamilton at Paul Semel’s website.

Read Denise Hamilton’s blog takeover of Jungle Red Writers.

Listen to interviews with editor Denise Hamilton at KPCC’s AirTalk with Larry Mantle,Book Society (Part 1 + Part 2), and the California Sun podcast.

Read an excerpt from and feature on Speculative Los Angeles at Shelf Unbound.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Published: 2/2/21
  • IBSN: 9781617758560
  • e-IBSN: 9781617758683
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617758645


Edgar Award finalist DENISE HAMILTON is the author of seven crime novels and the editor of the best-selling anthology Los Angeles Noir (which includes the Edgar Award–winning short story “The Golden Gopher” by Susan Straight) and Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics. She is a former Los Angeles Times journalist, a Fulbright Scholar, a noir and sci-fi/fantasy geek, and a proud LA native who refuses to speak only in English. She is the editor of Speculative Los Angeles.

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