The True Topography: The Paradise of Bachelors’ Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Fiction

Since the early 2010s, we've been enamored with  the  output of Paradise of Bachelors.

Founded by Brendan Greaves and Christopher Smith, the label's aim of  "documenting, curating, and releasing under-recognized musics of the American vernacular, historical and contemporary alike" has led to releases by modern acts like AD favorites Michael Chapman,  Hiss Golden Messenger, Weather Station,  Steve Gunn, Itasca, Nathan Bowles,  and more, as well as illuminating reissue projects by Terry Allen, Mike Cooper, Lavender Country, and  more.

Greaves and Smith are not only connoisseurs of sound; they similarly invested in  art, cooking, and chiefly, reading. After a few fascinating  conversations with them, we asked them to assemble something of a "Paradise of Bachelors Reader," focused on the fields of science and fantasy fiction. The boys did not disappoint, assembling a list as deeply considered as their discography. - j woodbury

“Learn the true topography: the monstrous and wonderful archetypes are not inside you, not inside your consciousness; you are inside them, trapped and howling to get out.”

— R.A. Lafferty, The Devil Is Dead (1971)

As a record label comprised of old friends with largely aligned, often weirdly telepathic, curatorial interests–decidedly not the same thing as taste, which is a bourgeois ruse, but don’t get me started on that–Paradise of Bachelors has long nurtured a vexed relationship with genre. It fulfills certain pragmatic needs, of course, to discuss expressive culture, and music in particular, by classifying and categorizing it. But it’s such a sloppy, politicized business, often more related to the identity of the listener, and the perceived identity of the artist–race, class, geography, faith, etc.–than to actual emic cultural values, auditory information, or slippery musicological signifiers like “style,” that we tend to avoid it when possible, at least amongst ourselves. We live in a fractious, fearful world that requires no further divisions, aesthetic or otherwise. (“World music” and “folk music” are perhaps the most egregious and noxious examples of the diluted meaninglessness of musical genres, but they all collapse upon close inspection.)

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