California is a big state, and occupies an even bigger place in our imaginations, so it’s only to be expected that a collection of stories exploring what makes it so special — so strange — makes for a big book. Which is to say, a promise of value, of bang for one’s buck, is made right up front.
As is outlined in what amounts to a manifesto in the book’s introduction, the stories in Strange California explore not only the state’s varied physical and cultural geography, but also what makes it so very different from the rest of the United States — what makes it strange. As editors Jaym Gates and Daniel Batt emphasize in the introduction, however, this collection is not merely an anthology of weird fiction. California is certainly weird, but it’s also strange — set apart, unknown, perhaps unknowable to those of us who don’t live there, who are strangers to the place.