Quick Review: THE TEST by Sylvain Neuvel (Tor.com)

NeuvelS-TestA superb immigration dystopia

Britain, the not-too-distant future.

Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.

He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.

How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

As someone who has lived in multiple countries, I’ve always been interested in immigration and the policies and rhetoric that surrounds it. While immigrants frequently feature in fiction, rarely (to my knowledge) is the process itself the central focus of the story. Set against a subtly dystopian backdrop, this is an interesting, well-written and sometimes thought-provoking story. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Interview with GEORGE MANN

manng-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is George Mann?

Hello! I’m a novelist and scriptwriter, based in the East Midlands, and I’ve been writing professionally for over ten years now. I’m a former publisher and, before that, a bookseller, so I’ve always been lucky enough to work with books.

Your next novel, The Revenant Express, will be published by Titan in February. The fifth book in your Newbury & Hobbes series, it also marks the 10th anniversary of the series. Congratulations! How would you introduce the novel and series to a potential reader?

Thanks! The Newbury & Hobbes series is very close to my heart. I see it as a Victorian Fantasy/Mystery series, with a little dash of the occult. Anyone who likes the idea of a lovechild of Steed & Peel from the Avengers, Hammer Horror, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who should find something to enjoy in the stories! Continue reading

Interview with HANNA JAMESON

JamesonH-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Hanna Jameson?

I’m a writer. 28. University dropout and current history student. I’ve written four books and lost an award for one of them! I like bourbon, true crime, and ghost stories.

Your latest novel, The Last, was recently published by Viking in the UK. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The Last is a murder mystery set in the months immediately following nuclear war, narrated by an American academic stranded in a remote hotel in Switzerland.

What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

I was inspired to write The Last by a few things, as novels are generally the product of several disparate ideas falling together rather than the outcome of one event. I was inspired by the hellish state of discourse following the 2016 US election, nuclear war jokes on Twitter, a historian friend of mine telling me about a long commute between different US states that got me thinking about the theme of displacement, J.G. Ballard, Stephen King, a curious true crime case in LA where the body of a girl was found in a rooftop water tank of what was then The Cecil Hotel. I also frequently draw inspiration from my own rage, despair, and sadness. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE HAUNTING OF TRAM CAR 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

ClarkPD-HauntingOfTramCar015A second story in Clark’s fascinating historical fantasy Cairo

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.

I’m a newcomer to P. Djèlí Clark’s work, and I must say he is fast becoming one of my favourite new authors. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is a novella set in the same world as the author’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo short story. Both are mysteries, with protagonists tasked with investigating supernatural goings-on in an alternate-history Cairo — one in which djinn, gods and spirits (among others) exist and changed the course of history. I really enjoyed this, and think a lot of others will too. Continue reading

Upcoming: A SHADOW INTELLIGENCE by Oliver Harris (Little, Brown)

HarrisO-EK1-ShadowIntelligenceUKHCOliver Harris is the critically-acclaimed author of the Nick Belsey series of London crime novels. His next novel is A Shadow Intelligence, the first in a new espionage thriller series starring Elliot Kane. I’m really looking forward to reading this one. Here’s the synopsis:

The intelligence service puts two years and over £100k into the training of new field officers. You’re shown how to steal cars, strip weapons, hack bank accounts. There are courses on the use of blackmail and improvised explosives, two workshops solely dedicated to navigating by the stars. But nothing about what I had heard one old spy call whiplash. No one tells you how to go home.

There is a dark side to MI6 that needs men like Elliot Kane — mercurial, inquisitive, free floating. He’s spent fifteen years managing events overseas that never make the papers, deniable and deeply effective. Kane is a ghost in his own life, picking up and dropping personalities as each new cover story comes into play. But when a woman he loves, Joanna Lake, vanishes without a trace in Kazakhstan, he is forced centre stage.

Drawn ever deeper into a realm of deception, Kane moves from merely infiltrating events to steering them. He’s used to a new mode of hybrid psychological warfare — but snowbound Kazakhstan presents unique challenges. Poised between China, Russia and the West, dictatorship and democracy, state intelligence and an increasingly powerful world of private agencies, it’s impossible to work out who is manipulating who. And Kane’s not the only one trying to figure out where Joanna Lake has gone or what she learned before disappearing.

Unable to trust anyone, hunted by his own colleagues, and with the life of someone he loves at stake, Kane needs to work out who is driving events, and why…

A Shadow Intelligence is due to be published in the UK by Little, Brown, in May 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with SCOTTO MOORE

7175b11415dc5d1f547365f299d07d6b_400x400Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Scotto Moore?

I’ve been a playwright in Seattle for the past fifteen years, focused on bringing ambitious science fiction and science fantasy stories to the stage. Sometimes they’re comedic, like H.P. Lovecraft: Stand-Up Comedian! which envisions Howie Lovecraft as a modern day comic expressing his vision of the mythos through increasingly dangerous stand-up routines. And sometimes they’re dark, like my recent musical, Silhouette, about a genocidal war fleet hunting down immortal mutineers in hiding. I’ve written shows about a genetics lab where experiments produce sentient, intelligent (and singing) mice; scientists who weaponize linguistic techniques; inventors who capture and transmit digital emotions; and an infinitely tall building at the center of the multiverse where demiurges and interdimensional travelers mingle.

I’ve also been a music blogger for more than a decade, and over the past year and half or so, I’ve become a progressive house DJ. Not for a living — just in my living room and at the occasional party. And I write a deeply absurd Lovecraft-themed meme generator on Tumblr called Things That Cannot Save You. Continue reading

Upcoming: NECESSARY PEOPLE by Anna Pitoniak (Little, Brown)

PitoniakA-NecessaryPeopleUSI very much enjoyed Anna Pitoniak‘s debut novel, The Futures. I read it a long while ago, after receiving an ARC quite a bit before its release. Ever since finishing it, however, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the author’s next novel. In May 2019, Little, Brown are due to publish that follow-up: Necessary People. And it sounds really interesting, too:

One of them has it all. One of them wants it all. Only one of them can win.

Stella Bradley is beautiful, rich, and very good at getting herself into trouble. Violet Trapp is smart, self-aware, and laser-focused on escaping her humble background — especially after Stella gives her a glimpse into a world of glamour and wealth. They are best friends, and from the moment they meet in college, they know their roles: Stella in the spotlight, and Violet behind the scenes.

After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. Until Stella decides to use her connections, beauty and charisma to land a job at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce-and taking all the credit for it.

But Violet isn’t giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, they each reveal just how far they’ll go to get what they want — even if it means destroying the other person along the way.

Set against the fast-paced backdrop of TV news, Necessary People is a propulsive work of psychological suspense about ambition and privilege, about the thin line between friendship and rivalry, about the people we need in our lives — and the people we don’t.

Necessary People is due to be published in North America by Little, Brown in May 2019. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information about a UK publisher. The Futures is out now in paperback, published by Lee Boudreaux Books in North America and Penguin in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter