Ken Kalfus, 2013

Goodreads describes this one as an “intellectual comedy”, but I’d rather call it “deadpan surreal historical novel”. Essentially, it’s critical and controversial: you’re laughing at how dumb we are as a species. And it’s full of jokes, but you have to detect them because they’re said in all seriousness.

Set in the 1890s, Equilateral is about the initiative of an astronomer to create a gigantic equilateral triangle at the centre of Egypt, in order to start communications with the inhabitants of Mars (illustration here). The characters are Victorian and the narrator is Victorian (so very proper and so very racist), but the entire premise is about Martians. It did not read like comedy to me, but it is funny, and in a very intelligent way it makes you realise of the stupidity of trying to reach out to space when we don’t even know (or try to know) our neighbours. 

Rating: ★★★

Recommended for: Weirdly enough, it’s more of a Historical novel than it is a Sci-fi one, so there’s that. The talk about engineering and angry workers reminded me of Pure, but I liked this one a lot more.