New Books (February-March)

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Featuring: Aimee Agresti, E.M. Brown, Jack Carr, Sebastien de Castell, Ruthanna Emmys, Raymond E. Feist, Christopher Fowler, Jason Fry, Louisa Hall, Michael Harvey, Ken Jennings, Richard Kadrey, Barbara Kingsolver, Nancy Kress, Mark Lawrence, Roger Levy, Laura Lippman, K.M. McKinley, Sean Parnell, Charlton Pettus, Josh Reynolds, David Ricciardi, Karl Schroeder, Ricki Schultz, Julie Schumacher, J. Todd Scott, Michael Farris Smith, Wallace Stroby, Stuart Turton, Raymond A. Villareal, Martha Wells, JY Yang

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Upcoming: TRINITY by Louisa Hall (Ecco)

HallL-TrinityUSLater this year, Ecco is due to publish the new novel by Louisa Hall. Hall’s previous novel, Speak, was a very well written, really interesting novel about AI and what it means to be human — it was published by Ecco in North America, and Orbit in the UK. In Trinity, the author takes on the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the nuclear bomb. Here’s the synopsis:

J. Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant scientist, a champion of liberal causes, and a complex and often contradictory character. He loyally protected his Communist friends, only to later betray them under questioning. He repeatedly lied about love affairs. And he defended the use of the atomic bomb he helped create, before ultimately lobbying against nuclear proliferation.

Through narratives that cross time and space, a set of characters bears witness to the life of Oppenheimer, from a secret service agent who tailed him in San Francisco, to the young lover of a colleague in Los Alamos, to a woman fleeing McCarthyism who knew him on St. John. As these men and women fall into the orbit of a brilliant but mercurial mind at work, all consider his complicated legacy while also uncovering deep and often unsettling truths about their own lives.

In this stunning, elliptical novel, Louisa Hall has crafted a breathtaking and explosive story about the ability of the human mind to believe what it wants, about public and private tragedy, and about power and guilt. Blending science with literature and fiction with biography, Trinity asks searing questions about what it means to truly know someone, and about the secrets we keep from the world and from ourselves.

Trinity is due to be published by Ecco in North America, on October 30th, 2018. I couldn’t find a UK listing for the novel. Hall’s debut, The Carriage House is also available via Scribner (North America) and Penguin (UK).

Also on CR: Review of Speak

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

New Books (Jan)

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A post-Christmas and New Year smorgasbord of awesome has come flooding in, these past couple of weeks. On top of that, there have been some I’ve bought myself (I got a lot of wonderful book vouchers and Amazon credit, this year…).

Featuring: Tim Akers, Robert Jackson Bennett, Rob Boffard, Terry Brooks, Lindsey Davis, Liz de Jager, Christopher Farnsworth, Matt Gallagher, Carol Goodman, Thomas Christopher Greene, Louisa Hall, Glen Erik Hamilton, Joanne Harris, Kristopher Jansma, Richard Kadrey, Mike Lawson, Tim Lebbon, Patrick Lee, Jill Lepore, Sean McFate & Bret Witter, China Miéville, Megan Miranda, Simon Morden, Anthony O’Neill, Adam O’Fallon Price, Camille Perri, Heidi Pitlor, Matthew Quirk, Richard Russo, Lawrence M. Schoen, A.F.E. Smith, Christopher Sorrentino, Gav Thorpe, Lavie Tidhar, Glen Weldon, Jonathan Wood Continue reading

Mini-Review: SPEAK by Louisa Hall (Ecco/Orbit)

HallL-SpeakUSAn interesting, multi-narrative look at AI and what it means to be human

In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.

A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls.

Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps — to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human — shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances — echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.

This is an interesting novel. I had pretty high hopes, when I first learned of it, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. Through four loosely-connected narrative strands, Hall has created a beautifully-written novel about humanity, artificial intelligence, and relationships. With just one caveat, this is an excellent novel. Continue reading

New Books (July)

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Featuring: Libba Bray, Mason Cross, Max Gladstone, Christie Golden, John Gwynne, Louisa Hall, Benedict Jacka, Mike Lawson, James Luceno, Maggie Mitchell, Jamie Schultz, Django Wexler, Chris Wraight Continue reading