James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, January 16 — January 22

23 Jan, 2021


Dark Lullaby

For fans of Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale, a mother desperately tries to keep her family together in a society where parenting standards are strictly monitored. The world is suffering an infertility crisis, the last natural birth was over twenty years ago and now the only way to conceive is through a painful fertility treatment. Any children born are strictly monitored, and if you are deemed an unfit parent then your child is extracted. After witnessing so many struggling to conceive – and then keep – their babies, Kit thought she didn’t want children. But then she meets Thomas and they have a baby girl, Mimi. Soon the small mistakes build up and suddenly Kit is faced with the possibility of losing her daughter, and she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together. 

Barbarians of the Beyond

Twenty-some years ago, the five master criminals known as the Demon Princes raided the peaceful community of Mount Pleasant to carry off its five thousand inhabitants into bondage in the lawless Beyond. Now Morwen Sabine, daughter of slaves, has escaped her cruel master and returns to Mount Pleasant to recover the hidden treasure that can buy her parents’ freedom.

But things have changed and Morwen finds she has to cope with mystic cultists, murderous drug-smugglers, undercover weasels” of the Interworld Police Coordinating Company. and the henchmen of the vicious pirate lord who owns her parents and wants Morwen back – so he can kill her slowly.

Barbarians of the Beyond is a return to Jack Vance Space” and a tale of pace-opera derring-do that follows in the science fiction grandmaster’s footsteps. 

The Swimmers

*A claustrophobic, literary dystopia set in the hot, luscious landscape of Andalusia from the author of* The Golden Key. **

After the ravages of the Green Winter, Earth is a place of deep jungles and monstrous animals. The last of the human race is divided into surface dwellers and the people who live in the Upper Settlement, a ring perched at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Bearing witness to this divided planet is Pearl, a young techie with a thread of shuvani blood, who lives in the isolated forests of Gobari, navigating her mad mother and the strange blue light in the sky. But Pearl’s stepfather promises her to a starborn called Arlo, and the world Pearl thought she knew will never be the same again. 

Set in the luscious landscape of Andalusia, this claustrophobic, dystopian reimagining of Wide Sargasso Sea is a fever dream, a blazing vision of self-destruction and transformation. **