Sam J. Miller

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Sam J. Miller

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in The United States



Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Jean Genet, ...more

Member Since
May 2011


Sam J. Miller is the last in a long line of butchers, and the Nebula-Award-winning author of THE ART OF STARVING, one of NPR's Best Books of the Year. His second novel, BLACKFISH CITY was a "Must Read" according to Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Magazine, and one of the best books of 2018 according to the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and more. He got gay-married in a guerrilla wedding in the shadow of a tyrannosaurus skeleton. He lives in New York City, and at

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Average rating: 3.75 · 16,586 ratings · 3,366 reviews · 70 distinct worksSimilar authors
Blackfish City

3.59 avg rating — 5,743 ratings — published 2018 — 20 editions
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The Art of Starving

3.76 avg rating — 2,378 ratings — published 2017 — 2 editions
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Destroy All Monsters

3.59 avg rating — 420 ratings — published 2019 — 8 editions
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The Future of Hunger in the...

3.70 avg rating — 81 ratings — published 2017 — 2 editions
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57 Reasons for the Slate Qu...

3.52 avg rating — 25 ratings — published 2013
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The Blade Between

3.88 avg rating — 33 ratings — expected publication 2020 — 7 editions
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4.56 avg rating — 16 ratings — published 2015 — 2 editions
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The Heat of Us: Notes Towar...

4.40 avg rating — 5 ratings
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Bodies Stacked Like Firewood

3.50 avg rating — 4 ratings
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Things With Beards

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award.

I am super proud and profoundly humbled to have served as the judge for the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

And after many months of reading incredible books and agonizing over the decision I had to make, I am delighted to join the Institute staff in congratulating the winners!

Debut Novel Category:
Cadwell TurnbullThe Lesson (Blackstone Publishing, 2019)

Open Category:
Ted ChiangExha

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Published on October 08, 2020 15:00

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“We want villains. We look for them everywhere. People to pin our misfortunate on. Whose sins and flaws are responsible for all the suffering we see. We want a world where the real monstrosity lies in wicked individuals. Instead of being a fundamental facet of human society, of the human heart.

Stories prime us to search for villains. Because villains can be punished. Villains can be stopped.

But villains are oversimplifications.”
Sam J. Miller, Blackfish City

“I used to imagine Better was a place you could get to. A moment when I would look around and see that Everything Was Fine. But that’s not how this works. Being better isn’t a battle you fight and win. Feeling okay is a war, one that lasts your whole life, and the only way to win is to keep on fighting.”
Sam J. Miller, The Art of Starving

“The greatest power comes from love, from knowing who you are and standing proudly in it.”
Sam J. Miller, The Art of Starving


Vote on the book you would like to read now to discuss in September. (We will vote again later on some of the remaining books for October's book.) Don't vote unless you will return to discuss if your book wins.

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
1977, 219 pages, 4.04 stars
$9.99 Kindle, cheap used print, at the library

"Substance D is not known as Death for nothing. It is the most toxic drug ever to find its way on to the streets of LA. It destroys the links between the brain's two hemispheres, causing, first, disorientation and then complete and irreversible brain damage.

The undercover narcotics agent who calls himself Bob Arctor is desperate to discover the ultimate source of supply. But to find any kind of lead he has to pose as a user and, inevitably, without realising what is happening, Arctor is soon as addicted as the junkies he works among..."
  3 votes, 20.0%

The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J. Walker
2017, 400 pages, 3.98 stars
(Carry over book from previous nominations.)

"Every dog has its day…

And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.

Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.

But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…"

  2 votes, 13.3%

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
2017, 263 pages, 3.53 stars
$12.99 Kindle, print from $6.39, at library

"The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time."
  2 votes, 13.3%

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
2017, 336 pages, 3.9 stars
$9.99 Kindle, print from $5.64, at library

"In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel.

At first, Borne looks like nothing at all—just a green lump that might be a Company discard. The Company, although severely damaged, is rumoured to still make creatures and send them to distant places that have not yet suffered Collapse.

Borne somehow reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment she resents; attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, the Balcony Cliffs, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick, not to render Borne down to raw genetic material for the drugs he sells—she cannot break that bond.

Wick is a special kind of supplier, because the drug dealers in the city don’t sell the usual things. They sell tiny creatures that can be swallowed or stuck in the ear, and that release powerful memories of other people’s happier times or pull out forgotten memories from the user’s own mind—or just produce beautiful visions that provide escape from the barren, craterous landscapes of the city.

Against his better judgment, out of affection for Rachel or perhaps some other impulse, Wick respects her decision. Rachel, meanwhile, despite her loyalty to Wick, knows he has kept secrets from her. Searching his apartment, she finds a burnt, unreadable journal titled “Mord,” a cryptic reference to the Magician (a rival drug dealer) and evidence that Wick has planned the layout of the Balcony Cliffs to match the blueprint of the Company building. What is he hiding? Why won’t he tell her about what happened when he worked for the Company?"
  2 votes, 13.3%

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
2017, 353 pages, 3.76 stars
$17.08 paperback, $13.99 Kindle, $5.01 and up in used print, probably at the library

"Never Let Me Go meets The Giver in this haunting debut about a cult on an isolated island, where nothing is as it seems.

Years ago, just before the country was incinerated to wasteland, ten men and their families colonized an island off the coast. They built a radical society of ancestor worship, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers--chosen male descendants of the original ten--are allowed to cross to the wastelands, where they scavenge for detritus among the still-smoldering fires.

The daughters of these men are wives-in-training. At the first sign of puberty, they face their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that drags them from adolescence to matrimony. They have children, who have children, and when they are no longer useful, they take their final draught and die. But in the summer, the younger children reign supreme. With the adults indoors and the pubescent in Fruition, the children live wildly--they fight over food and shelter, free of their fathers' hands and their mothers' despair. And it is at the end of one summer that little Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrifying, so contradictory to the laws of the island, that she must share it with the others.

Born leader Janey Solomon steps up to seek the truth. At seventeen years old, Janey is so unwilling to become a woman, she is slowly starving herself to death. Trying urgently now to unravel the mysteries of the island and what lies beyond, before her own demise, she attempts to lead an uprising of the girls that may be their undoing."
  2 votes, 13.3%

Clade by James Bradley
2015, 239 pages, 3.68 stars
$7.99 Kindle, cheap used print, at library

"On a beach in Antarctica, scientist Adam Leith marks the passage of the summer solstice. Back in Sydney his partner Ellie waits for the results of her latest round of IVF treatment.

That result, when it comes, will change both their lives and propel them into a future neither could have predicted. In a collapsing England Adam will battle to survive an apocalyptic storm. Against a backdrop of growing civil unrest at home, Ellie will discover a strange affinity with beekeeping. In the aftermath of a pandemic, a young man finds solace in building virtual recreations of the dead. And new connections will be formed from the most unlikely beginnings.

Clade is the story of one family in a radically changing world, a place of loss and wonder where the extraordinary mingles with the everyday. Haunting, lyrical and unexpectedly hopeful, it is the work of a writer in command of the major themes of our time."
  2 votes, 13.3%

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
2018, 336 pages, 3.63 stars
$9.99 Kindle, used from $8.55, probably at the library

"After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population.

When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves."
  1 vote, 6.7%

Mort(e) by Robert Repino
2015, 358 pages, 3.58 stars
$9.99 Kindle, cheap used print, at library

"After the “war with no name” a cat assassin searches for his lost love in Repino’s strange, moving sci-fi epic that channels both Homeward Bound and A Canticle for Leibowitz.

The “war with no name” has begun, with human extinction as its goal. The instigator of this war is the Colony, a race of intelligent ants who, for thousands of years, have been silently building an army that would forever eradicate the destructive, oppressive humans. Under the Colony's watchful eye, this utopia will be free of the humans' penchant for violence, exploitation and religious superstition. As a final step in the war effort, the Colony uses its strange technology to transform the surface animals into high-functioning two-legged beings who rise up to kill their masters.

Former housecat turned war hero, Mort(e) is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions and fighting the dreaded human bio-weapon EMSAH. But the true motivation behind his recklessness is his ongoing search for a pre-transformation friend—a dog named Sheba. When he receives a mysterious message from the dwindling human resistance claiming Sheba is alive, he begins a journey that will take him from the remaining human strongholds to the heart of the Colony, where he will discover the source of EMSAH and the ultimate fate of all of earth's creatures."
  1 vote, 6.7%

Nothing Sacred by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
1991, 352 pages, 3.69 stars
$5.99 Kindle, cheap used print, at library

"In the 21st century, overeducated and unemployable Viveka relunctantly joins the army. On her first mission, she is shot down and marched through the Tibetan Himalayas to a secret POW camp where Viveka notices that neither she nor her fellow cellmates can remember how long they've been incarcerated"
  0 votes, 0.0%

The Unblessed Dead by Rhiannon Frater
2018, 267 pages, 4.68 stars
$2.99 Kindle, print from $15.39, not at library (as far as I can tell)

"When I younger, my mother saved my settlement from the Unblessed Dead that would have killed us all. It cost her everything to reveal her necromancy and sent shockwaves through our stringent religious settlement. Convicted of heresy against our sacred Lost Texts, she died soon after.
Since then, I have worked hard to maintain my Pious Standing so that when I turn eighteen I will be selected by a suitable husband at the Bridal Auction.
As the large clock in town square ticks down to my eighteenth birthday, the dead have been appearing in my garden. If I’m discovered, I’ll face the Necromancer Trial just as my mother, oldest sister, and I did all those years ago. This time I fear I will not survive it.
To add to my worries, an enigmatic handsome young man has arrived in the settlement. Around him swirls a green aura only I can see. Is he here to help me? Or does he have more nefarious plans?
My name is Ilyse Nott, and I fear I am a necromancer.
If I am, my life is over."
  0 votes, 0.0%

I, Judas The 5th Gospel by Bob Mayer
2012, 250 pages, 3.62 stars
$4.99 Kindle, cheap used paperback, not at the library

"What if Judas is still alive, hidden away in the jungles of the Amazon, waiting for the Second Coming?

As a massive object appears at the edge of the solar system heading directly toward Earth, the Brotherhood heralds it as Wormwood, one of the signs the Rapture and it’s just seven days away. They have been preparing to implement the Great Commission as designated by Jesus—where everyone on the planet must hear the word of God before the end in order to be saved. They will use advanced technology to send that message directly into the minds of every human on the planet. The question is: will the message kill everyone who gets it or save them?
Believing him to be the anti-Christ, they also send a team of assassins up the Amazon to find the Great Betrayer and kill him.

Opposing the Brotherhood is the Triumvirate of the Illuminati. They believe they must stop the Great Commission and also they try to stop the assassination team. At the same time they rush to gather nuclear weapons and launch missiles into space to divert the Intruder, as they call the object.

Two survivors do finally make it to Judas, and he tells them a story, the true story of what happened over two millennia ago.

As the object nears Earth, both sides become locked in a world-wide battle for the future of the human race, as Judas prepares in the jungle for the Second Coming.

Which is not at all what anyone expects.

You might consider it an alternate version of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End."
  0 votes, 0.0%


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message 1: by Rob

Rob Rosen Sam, hi. Hope all is well. Since we’re Goodreads friends, I thought I’d share my latest novel, Midlife Crisis, with you.

"Rob Rosen does madcap gay humor better than anyone else writing today. Midlife Crisis is no exception." - Neil Plakcy, author of The Mahu Investigations

I hope you can pick up a copy. As a special thanks for your time, feel free to message me on Facebook ( for a free PDF copy of any of my other 9 novels, which you can find here:

All the best,

Rob Rosen

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