This week, I’m giving myself and treat and reading two just-published books by authors that I know that i’ll enjoy. They’re both speculative fiction books and I expect both of them to have strong, original voices.
‘Radio Life’ by Derek B Miller (2021)
Derek B. Miller never disappoints, always makes me think and frequently surprises me.
‘Norwegian By Night’ was the first book Derek Miller book to capture my imagination, back in 2015, with a young boy and an old man on the run in Norway-
With ‘The Girl In Green’ he took me somewhere quite different, the wars in the Middle-East and the mess we Westerner’s make there.
‘American By Day’ transplanted the Norwegian policewoman I’d met in ‘Norwegian By Night’ into the through-the-looking-glass experience of working with law enforcement in the United States.
I was surprised when I saw that Derek Miller’s next book was going to be speculative fiction. Then I though about the assault of knowledge that we’ve all been going through in the past four years – silencing experts, denying science, promoting hate-based fantasies as truth and labelling fact-based journalists as enemies of the people – and I thought, ‘what could be more relevant than a book looking at the preservation and dissemination of knowledge as a key survival trait for humanity?‘
Giving us a way to think clearly about today by providing us with a possible tomorrow is one of the things speculative fiction excels at. I’m looking forward to seeing what Derek Miller does with the opportunity.
‘Bear Head’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky (2021)
Adrian Tchaikovsky is prolific and hugely successful British writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with more than forty novels to his name. His books cover a wide range of themes and vary in style from RPG-type fantasy to intergalactic space opera. So far, I’ve only read three of his books but I’m keen to read more.
His best known series is probably the ‘Children Of Time’, which won the Arthur C Clarke Award. It’s epic science fiction with some truly alien aliens. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the books. The scale was just too large for me to connect to.
By contrast, I loved his ‘Dogs Of War’ novel. It was engaging, original, intriguing and accessible Science Fiction, told from multiple points of view without losing any intensity of characterisation and filled with exciting ideas.
‘Firewalkers’ was a science fiction novella that punched above its weight, delivering a well-imagined, skilfully revealed future where a young and poor underclass of ‘Firewalkers’ risk their lives to service the global billionaire elite as they prepare to escape a dying Earth and leave the rest of us to burn.
‘Bear Head’ carries over one of my favourite characters from ‘Dogs Of War’ but puts them in a completely new context. I’m hoping for something engaging and exciting