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Jason Heller, Peter Bebergal, and Paul Tremblay in Conversation at Trident Bookstore

August 5, 2019 | 7:00 pm


A conversation between Jason Heller, Peter Bebergal and Paul Tremblay about the crossover of popular and underground music into the world of literature, and how this dynamic has informed their work.

About the Book

As the 1960s drew to a close, and mankind trained its telescopes on other worlds, old conventions gave way to a new kind of hedonistic freedom that celebrated sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. Derided as nerdy or dismissed as fluff, science fiction rarely gets credit for its catalyzing effect on this revolution.

In Strange Stars, Jason Heller recasts sci-fi and pop music as parallel cultural forces that depended on one another to expand the horizons of books, music, and out-of-this-world imagery.

In doing so, he presents a whole generation of revered musicians as the sci-fi-obsessed conjurers they really were: from Sun Ra lecturing on the black man in the cosmos, to Pink Floyd jamming live over the broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing; from a wave of Star Wars disco chart toppers and synthesizer-wielding post-punks, to Jimi Hendrix distilling the “purplish haze” he discovered in a pulp novel into psychedelic song. Of course, the whole scene was led by David Bowie, who hid in the balcony of a movie theater to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, and came out a changed man…

If today’s culture of Comic Con fanatics, superhero blockbusters, and classic sci-fi reboots has us thinking that the nerds have won at last, Strange Stars brings to life an era of unparalleled and unearthly creativity—in magazines, novels, films, records, and concerts—to point out that the nerds have been winning all along.

About the authors

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and has written for publications including The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR, and The Atlantic. His latest novel was Taft 2012.

Peter Bebergal is the author of several books, including Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural and Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Times Literary Supplement, NewYorker.com, Slate, The Believer, and The LA Review of Books.

Paul Tremblay is the author of the novels The Cabin at the End of the World, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, and A Head Full of Ghosts. His fiction and essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Supernatural Noir, and numerous Year’s Best anthologies. He is the author of the short speculative fiction collections Growing Things, In the Mean Time, and Compositions for the Young and Old. Paul is currently on the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards as well. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.


Trident Booksellers & Cafe
338 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115 United States
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Did You Know?

Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.