Starting with something Canadian: The Night Inside, by Nancy Baker, is a very rare thing indeed ... a Canadian vampire novel. And I do mean Canadian ... Ardeth Alexander discovers that the goth and street culture of downtown Toronto is a perfect cover for a newly-made vampire like herself. The neighbourhood ought to bring back some happy memories for some of you ***grin***. The second volume in the series, Blood and Chrysanthemums, has Ardeth and her "maker"/companion in Banff, Alberta, taking advantage of the long Canadian winter nights. (Baker has also written a third, stand-alone vampire novel, called A Terrible Beauty). Cover pictures, summaries and author notes on all three books, plus Baker's other writings, available at Nancy Baker's World
ADDITIONAL FOR tommdroid: "The Night Inside" was published in Sweden as "Nattvarelser, En Vampythriller"!!!!!!
From the darker side of Canada to the odder side of medicine: Jan Bondeson is a physician who likes to delve into the quirkier aspects of the history of his profession. In A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities he covers topics ranging from spontaneous human combustion to the life of Julia Pastrana, always beginning with contemporary sources and then applying modern medical/scientific knowledge to each subject. Another one for the fun educational reading list! (Bondeson's second book, The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History, is also a good read).
Back to strange fiction, instead of strange fact: Christopher Moore's Practical Demonkeeping guarantees many twisted giggles. I used to be very worried about the fact that Disney owns the movie rights to this little gem, but after seeing PotC, I know they can cope with the strangest pair of visitors that Pine Cove, California, has ever experienced (now that I'm thinking about it, a certain Mr. Depp would do an incredible portrayal of Travis O'Hearn, the man who doesn't understand WHY he has a demon).
One of my favourite treasures, discovered in a used book store many years ago, is Eyelids of Morning, by Alistair Graham and Peter Beard, often described as the best crocodile book ever written. Graham spent three years researching the crocs in Kenya's Lake Turkana ... this volume is not his scientific report, but a narrative of the adventures of those years, crocodile lore, observations on the local Turkana tribe, and anything else that occurs to him. Heavily illustrated with Beard's photos and many old illustrations of crocs, from fact, fiction and fancy. Worth getting your hands on just for the pictures!
And now a jump to Africa of the past and future. Mike Resnick's novels either grab me or make me wonder why he wasted the paper ... there's never an in-between. Ivory is one of the grabbers. In the year 6303 the last of the Maasai hires a game trophy researcher to track down the long-missing tusks of the Kilimanjaro Elephant (in RL these tusks are currently in storage in the British Museum ... photo of tusks here). A fascinating future history.
Finally and for more future history, a science fiction classic. During his illustrious science fiction career, Cordwainer Smith wrote many stories, but only one novel: Norstrilia. One of those books where even the little blurb inside the front cover is fun reading:
What happens in the story?
It starts with Rod McBan. We know his family was distinguished. We know the poor kid was born to troubles.
Why shouldn't he have troubles?
He was due to inherit the Station of Doom.
And then he gets around. He crosses all sorts of people. C'mell, the most beautiful of the girlygirls of Earth. Jean-Jacques Vomact, whose family must have preceded the human race. The wild old man of Adaminaby. The trained spiders of Earthport. The subcommissioner Teadrinker. The Lord Jestocost, whose name is a page in history. The friends of the Ee-telly-kelly, and a queer tankful of friends they were. B'dank, of the cattle police. The Catmaster. Tostig Amaral, about whom the less said the better. Ruth, in pursuit. C'mell in flight. The Lady Johanna, laughing.
He gets away.
He got away. See, that's the story. Now you don't have to read it.
Except for the details.