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SCI-FI

Against the jaw-dropping detail and scale of Lawrence's creations, it's easy to overlook what a warm, observational writer he is

Against the jaw-dropping detail and scale of Lawrence’s creations, it’s easy to overlook what a warm, observational writer he is

SCI-FI

THE BOOK THAT WOULDN’T BURN 

by Mark Lawrence (HarperVoyager £16.99, 576pp)

Against the jaw-dropping detail and scale of Lawrence’s creations, it’s easy to overlook what a warm, observational writer he is.

We love Livira, a savagely clever desert-dweller, brought to the city when her village is overrun by murderous monsters.

We root for Evar, an ageless boy trapped in a hidden corner of an infinitely huge library that holds all the world’s knowledge.

Amid the Gormenghastian stacks, across times and dimensions, their lives entwine.

Evar wants to escape and unlock the mystery of his existence; Livira wants to understand everything — but both must learn how to navigate the library and the worlds hidden in its dusty tomes.

Frank's devoted girlfriend hires Robin, a workaholic private eye, to find him

Frank’s devoted girlfriend hires Robin, a workaholic private eye, to find him

CONQUEST 

by Nina Allan (Riverrun £18.99, 320pp)

Frank is a savant.

Passionate about Bach, he sees patterns everywhere — too many for his sanity to properly bear.

A 1950s sci-fi short story, given in full at the heart of the novel, seems to confirm his worst fears concerning an alien takeover . . . And then he disappears.

Frank’s devoted girlfriend hires Robin, a workaholic private eye, to find him, but soon Rachel herself is enfolded in a mesh of coincidences and connections.

In this outstanding, beautifully controlled novel, Allen explores the smudged edges of fear and paranoia, belief and credulity, where she finds a sweet spot shimmering with truth and a strange beauty.

Thuggish Earthlings have left the Wisdom, a universal AI god-machine, with a dilemma

Thuggish Earthlings have left the Wisdom, a universal AI god-machine, with a dilemma

SOME DESPERATE GLORY 

by Emily Tesh (Orbit £18.99, 448pp)

Thuggish Earthlings have left the Wisdom, a universal AI god-machine, with a dilemma: should it give the most destructive race in the multiverse free rein, or blow up the planet?

It does the latter and, unsurprisingly, a small military unit of Spartan humans stuck, on a distant asteroid swear revenge.

Driving the story is Kyr, fiercest of the Spartans, and her discovery that love, loyalty, and the variety of universes on offer are more complicated than she thought.

It’s a wonderful, gripping ride with great hardware, brilliantly drawn characters — both human and alien — and a gopping massive plot reset that matches alternative realities with deep soul-searching.



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