Tag Archives: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Barricade – Jon Wallace

Barricade by Jon Wallace, the author’s debut novel, is the first in a trilogy set in a post-apocalypse Britain. It’s a pretty standard dystopian setup – humans build artificial life, stuff goes wrong, war ensues and ruins everything for everyone involved – except, unusually, it’s seen through the eyes of one of the artificial beings, or Ficials. A construction worker by ‘optimisation’, Kenstibec is now a taxi driver, and is hired to take a journalist (another Ficial called Starvie) from Edinburgh to London. To do so he has to find a way out of the Edinburgh barricade, past the besieging army of Reals (normal humans to you and me) and through a country prowled by tribes of half-feral humans out for Ficial blood.
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The Hanging Tree – Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch’s latest novel in the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series – The Hanging Tree – brings us back to London after Peter’s foray into the countryside in Foxglove Summer. The focus is on Mayfair this time as Peter investigates a drug-related death where one of the suspects is the daughter of Lady Tyburn, physical manifestation of one of London’s rivers and not one of Peter’s biggest fans. As the fateful events are gradually revealed and the implications uncovered, new players in the magical scene are introduced, some familiar faces reappear, and a bigger mystery might just be solved.

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Savant – Nik Abnett

From Solaris Books comes Savant, the first full novel from Nik Abnett, who might be more familiar to some under the name Nik Vincent. A brave, adventurous book, it’s set in a recognisable but clearly different world where the Earth is protected from the rest of the galaxy by a shield generated by the minds of certain key individuals. A complex system of roles and organisation keeps minds like these around the world calm and functioning in order to safeguard the shield, but when one man begins to stray from his usual routine the entire system risks falling apart.
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Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

A bona fide dystopian classic, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was published 63 years ago but remains worryingly relevant to this day. In a world where ignorance is aspirational, the role of the ‘fireman’ is to seek out and burn books – considered to be the source of unhappiness, they’ve long been banned and only a few remain, hidden away in attics and back rooms. When fireman Guy Montag starts to question the views and values of his world, he begins to see everything he knows in a different light – his neighbours and colleagues, his blissed-out wife, and even his job.
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Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s third volume of short stories, Trigger Warning is a strange, eclectic collection that fails to follow one of Gaiman’s own tests by assembling stories ‘hodgepodge and willy-nilly’ but nevertheless still feels totally appropriate for a book of Gaiman stories. There’s a little bit of everything in here – poetry, stories both long (ish) and (very) short, ghosts, Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, saints, dogs, David Bowie, and all sorts of captivatingly strange goings-on. They range in length, style, structure, genre, each one standing separate but contributing to a whole that’s occasionally confusing but always interesting, and very, very appropriate to Neil Gaiman.
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The Vagrant

The Vagrant – Peter Newman

The debut novel from Peter Newman, The Vagrant is a genre-straddling, expectation-defying book that represents both an assured debut and an impressive willingness (from author and publisher) to take risks. Set in a world that’s equal parts dystopia, fantasy and science fiction, where living swords and ephemeral demons coexist with futuristic firearms and vast sky-ships, it follows the titular Vagrant as he journeys through lands long corrupted by a conquering foe bearing a sentient sword and incongruously caring for a baby. Never speaking, communicating through body language alone, he stubbornly makes his way ever northwards in search of home, and safety.
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Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

First published in 1966 and no less potent fifty years later, Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon is a justifiable classic, a science fiction story which, like so many of the genre’s finest, holds a mirror up to reality and gives us a glimpse at what might be. It follows Charlie Gordon, a man with an IQ of 68 who spends his days sweeping floors in a bakery, happily ignorant of how the world sees him, until he’s chosen for an experiment to artificially enhance his intelligence. The procedure has been successfully completed once before, on a white mouse called Algernon, but Charlie is the first human test subject.
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The Sand Men

The Sand Men – Christopher Fowler

The stark contrast between its gleaming modernity and deep-rooted middle-eastern conservatism makes Dubai an ideal setting for a sort-of-science-fiction thriller, so Christopher Fowler’s The Sand Men seems an intriguing prospect. Promising a look under the surface of a modern technological utopia, it sees the Brook family move from their old life in London to a gated community set up for the families of the men brought over to work on Dream World, a vast, sprawling hotel complex offering every luxury for the most wealthy visitors to the country. Once there, the realities of life for Western outsiders start to become clear, with the family fragmenting while dark secrets start coming to light.
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How The Marquis Got His Coat Back

QUICK REVIEW : How The Marquis Got His Coat Back – Neil Gaiman

First published in the Rogues anthology and now available as a pocket-sized little book in its own right, How The Marquis Got His Coat Back sees Neil Gaiman finally return to the London Below of his classic TV series and novel Neverwhere. Here we see the Marquis de Carabas talking his way in and out of trouble in search of his famed coat, along the way visiting the Floating Market and the notorious Shepherd’s Bush, and encountering all manner of dark and dangerous people.
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Ajax Penumbra, 1969

Ajax Penumbra, 1969 – Robin Sloan

If ever there was a book which deserved a prequel it’s Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and Robin Sloan has kindly obliged with the delightful novella Ajax Penumbra, 1969. There was so much implied backstory in the original novel that it would have been a crime not to have explored it further, so here we get to take a look at a young Mr Penumbra, just starting out on the path that would lead to 1960s San Francisco, a 24-hour bookstore, a sunken ship and two men who would come to shape his life.

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