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The latest and greatest in science fiction and fantasy - a collection of reviews.

The latest and greatest in science fiction and fantasy – a collection of reviews.

Three Eight One Aliya Whiteley Solaris, £18.99

Three Eight One by Aliya Whiteley (Solaris, £18.99)

This captivating metafictional story follows the journey of a reader in the year 2314 as they annotate a fantasy novel from 2024. The reader, Rowena Savalas, is fascinated by the 21st century, known as the Age of Riches for its wealth of digital information. In contrast, her own era is known as the Age of Curation and her personal project is to make sense of a digital text titled “The Dance of the Horned Road”. The story centers around a young woman named Fairly, who is searching for her place in the world. However, it is unclear if this story is an autobiography, a fable, or a combination of both. As Rowena’s footnotes delve deeper into the text and its devices, she becomes inspired to embark on her own quest. Fairly’s experiences range from the mundane (working in a bar, making new friends) to the bizarre and unsettling. She encounters “cha” throughout her journey, but it is uncertain if they are real or figments of her imagination. Overall, this unconventional and thought-provoking work showcases the unique writing style of one of Britain’s most original speculative fiction writers.

The Glass Woman Alice McIlroy Datura £9.99

The Glass Woman byAlice McIlroy (Datura, £9.99)

After undergoing surgery, Iris awakens with no recollection of her past. Her “husband” assures her that she will eventually regain her normal state, except for any distressing memories that she had requested to be permanently erased. Despite her disbelief, a doctor presents her with a consent form that she had signed, giving Sila plc ownership of these memories – the same company she is employed at. Embedded in her mind is an AI chip that is meant to aid in her recovery. However, she is kept secluded and essentially imprisoned, fueling her determination to uncover the truth at any cost. This intricate psychological thriller taps into our current anxieties surrounding AI and delves into themes of memory, trauma, and identity.

The Principle of Moments Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson Gollancz, £18.99

Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson’s book, The Principle of Moments, published by Gollancz for £18.99.

The recipient of the inaugural Future Worlds award for writers of color in the science fiction and fantasy genre, this debut novel has a strong resemblance to fan fiction. It is a sprawling space opera that combines elements from both Star Wars and Doctor Who, with familiar tropes such as ancient prophecies, heroic protagonists fighting against an evil empire, thrilling escapes, and diverse alien races. However, what sets this story apart is the representation of Black characters in key roles. Asha Akindele takes matters into her own hands by stealing a spaceship to find her sister who was taken by the Emperor. Meanwhile, time traveler Obi Amadi risks his life every time he leaves Regency London. In the distant future, he meets Asha and discovers that he possesses a holograph of her sister. Along with a new ally, the handsome blue-skinned Xavior, they are hailed as reincarnations of legendary heroes and seen as the only hope to defeat the Emperor. While the concepts of destiny and Chosen Ones may clash with the anti-imperialist and pro-equality themes, it is possible that these traditional fantasy tropes will be subverted in future installments as this book is part of a planned trilogy.

The Knowing Emma Hinds Bedford Square, £16.99

Emma Hinds’ novel, The Knowing, is available for purchase at Bedford Square for a price of £16.99.

In this debut novel, set in the mid-19th century in New York and Manchester, we follow Flora, a troubled young woman who works as a tarot reader for clients. Despite her struggles to resist the ghosts she senses around her, Flora yearns to use her gift to communicate with them. She is eventually rescued from an abusive relationship with tattoo artist Jordan, who exploits her for his own gain. However, her savior Minnie has ulterior motives and sets Flora up with clients for a séance. Not realizing that these clients only want a performance, Flora gives in to her forbidden power and allows a ghost to possess her. The ghost uses Flora’s voice to reveal shocking secrets, triggering a dangerous chain of events that forces Flora and Minnie to flee for their lives. This violent and unsettling gothic tale is told in a captivating manner.

Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock Maud Woolf Angry Robot, £9.99

Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock by Maud Woolf (Angry Robot, £9.99)

In this clever debut, there exists a future world where famous individuals can request Portraits – exact replicas of themselves – to alleviate the pressures of fame. Lulabelle Rock, a well-known actress, has taken advantage of this technology by having multiple Portraits who attend events, promote fashion brands, manage social media profiles, create scandal by dating other celebrities, and even experiment with different lifestyles. However, things start to shift as exclusivity becomes the latest trend. As a result, a 13th Lulabelle is produced with the intention of eliminating all the others. This book delves into the themes of fame, identity, and discovering one’s own self-worth.

Source: theguardian.com