Archive for Angry Robot Books

Book Review: Crux (Nexus #2), by Ramez Naam

Posted in Angry Robot Army, Arts & Entertainment, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Science Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2013 by Jessica Nelson

Crux-144dpiTitle: Crux (Nexus #2)

Author: Ramez Naam

Publisher: Angry Robot, August 27, 2013

Length: 560 pages

Price: $14.99 US/ $16.99 CA

ISBN: 978-0-85766-297-2

The year is 2040. It’s been three months since the nanodrug Nexus 5 became open source, and the world has become a different place. Nexus has the power to link minds, increase learning ability, and to bring people together. It has the potential to help humankind achieve great things. It also has the potential for abuse, if in the hands of a select few. Under pressure from the governments of the United States and China, among others, Kaden Lane saw few other choices but to release the source code to the world at large, putting his faith in the basic goodness of most people.

“He’d seen incredible science done, published carefully on anonymous message boards. With Nexus 5 they were getting glimpses of paths to reversing Alzheimer’s and senile dementia, making incredible progress in connecting autistic children to neurotypical adults. They were suddenly moving forward again in deciphering memory and attention, in seeing ways to boost intelligence. This was a tool that would change everything about the study of the mind …”

The uses of Nexus are myriad, from joining the minds of musicians and making the orchestra one living thing to being used to coerce others for personal gain. To help avoid abuses and stop coercion, Kade built back doors into the Nexus source code before releasing it. Now, the governments of the United States and China want those codes, and they’ll stop at nothing to get them.

As Kade struggles to keep order and stop abuses, a new terror cell has cropped up, calling itself the Posthuman Liberation Front. The more the US government rallies against human enhancements, the harder the PLF strikes back. The harder the PLF strikes, the more public opinion sways against its goals and toward the control the government publicly wishes to exercise. One step too far, and the war against trans- and posthumans is on.

Crux is the second book in Ramez Naam‘s Nexus series. Nonfiction works by Naam include More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement and The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. He has worked with Microsoft and been involved in nanotechnology research, and his work has won him the HG Wells Award for Contributions to Transhumanism, given by the World Transhumanist Association.

In this brutal, honest sequel to Nexus, Naam explores humankind’s ability to always justify our actions and motivations, as well as how we do or do not learn to exercise restraint and self-control when given immense power – both ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ alike. He delivers smart, concise social and scientific commentary through the use of well-developed, complex characters, full of loves and hurts, scars and hopes, realistic motivations, and pasts that explain them all.

Readers will gain a complete understanding of every character, allowing them to form their own opinions after exploring the various points of view on transhumanist technology, all while being pulled through a well-formed story sure to entertain readers of science fiction, or anyone with an interest in future technologies. Stories of hope and fear, of power and helplessness, of inner demons at war with the better angels of our nature intertwine from cover to cover, making for a compelling read that’s hard to put down.

Naam’s writing is always strong, fluid and sure. Realistic, wholly believable plot twists follow one after another, puzzle pieces falling neatly into place, building suspense and mystery before satisfying conclusions. With gripping, heart-pounding action scenes and muscle-binding tension normally reserved for horror stories, Crux is a book you don’t want to miss (though I should note, it may not stand alone well. Readers will be well-served by reading Nexus first.)

Book Review: The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu

Posted in Angry Robot Army, Arts & Entertainment, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Science Fiction, Spy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2013 by Jessica Nelson

The Lives of Tao coverTitle: The Lives of Tao

Author: Wesley Chu

Publisher: Angry Robot Books; April 30, 2013

Length: 464 pages

Price: $7.99 US/ $8.99 CAN

ISBN: 978-0-85766-329-0

Tao is a Quasing, one of a race of alien life forms from the planet Quasar whose ship broke up in Earth’s atmosphere millennia ago, stranding its inhabitants on a strange new world completely inhospitable to their gaseous forms. To survive, the Quasing discovered, they must become parasitic, inhabiting the bodies of the native life forms. Throughout prehistory, they inhabited dinosaurs and Neanderthals, until humans showed promise of the ability to evolve in a manner that might someday allow the Quasing to return to their home.

For the last five hundred years, the Quasing have been at war with themselves, split into two factions: the Genjix, who follow the original Quasing idea that humans evolve technologically faster when in a state of conflict, and the Prophus, a splinter sect who has come to appreciate humankind and who believe the same technological advances might be made through peaceful means.

Roen Tan is an IT technician living in Chicago. He spends his days plopped in front of a computer, whiling away the hours at a job he hates. His nights are spent shoving his face full of pizza and gaming or, on occasion, being talked into going to a nightclub and drinking himself into lonely regret. But after one such night, Roen finds he is no longer alone in his own head, and he is given the opportunity to live a life he’s only dreamed about.

Training to be a secret agent isn’t easy for anyone. But when you start out as an overweight, middle-aged slob, well … things are bound to get interesting.

Wesley Chu is an Associate Vice President at a bank by day, and a writer and martial artist by night. As a writer, he contributes to the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. With past work as an actor and stunt man as well, Chu has a background ripe for writing fun, action-packed stories, and his debut novel, The Lives of Tao, is just that.

The Lives of Tao is a blend of sci-fi and spy as we rarely see it. From the very first pages, the reader is dumped right into the middle of the story of the Quasing civil war, with quick, fluid action scenes that continue throughout the book. As the tension ebbs and flows along, so too does the narrative. Chu evades a lot of detail work, preferring to keep the plot moving and twisting along by pulling the reader from one event or action scene to the next, giving the story a good sense of motion and progress throughout.

After the events at the Chest of the Menagerie, I do not have much to tell that could show you any insight as to who I am. Because from that point on, it has been nothing but mindless war…

As the current situation races ahead at what is often a break-neck pace, each chapter begins with Tao telling Roen the history of the Quasing on Earth.

We used to be two sides playing chess with humanity’s evolution as the prize. Now, we play simply to defeat the other side. In a way, the Prophus fell right into the Genjix’s hands.

The Quasing have done a lot to influence human evolution, for good and for ill, and there are a lot of historical Easter eggs scattered throughout the story, adding to the fun and novelty of it. Tao himself has inhabited Genghis Khan, and other Quasing have had hosts as important to mankind as Voltaire, Shakespeare, Churchill, even Peter the Apostle. At the same time, Chu’s characters are rather simple, but in a good way. Like classic Bond characters, Chu fleshes out the stereotype for the reader to start with, adding small details along the way to flesh them in a bit, but never too much. This story is all about the action.

There are a few minor redundancies and unwieldy sentences throughout the book, but nothing out of the ordinary for a debut novel, and nothing that really upsets the story for more than a moment. All in all, Chu’s writing is strong, and his ability to write tragic, heart-rending scenes into such a fun, easy story is proof that he’s found his calling as a writer.

The Lives of Tao has some good take-away lessons for readers, as well. As comic as Tao’s training of Roen can be, it also contains inspirational advice that is bound to make readers reflect on their own lives. There is much about being the person you want to be and not making excuses to let yourself fail. Much as the practice of Tao is The Way of life, the character of Tao shows Roen the way to live fully. And isn’t that something we could all use a little help with?

Book Review: Nexus, by Ramez Naam

Posted in Angry Robot Army, Arts & Entertainment, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Science Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by Jessica Nelson

Nexus CoverTitle: Nexus

Author: Ramez Naam

Publisher: Angry Robot, December 2012

Length: 464 pages

Price: $14.99 US/ $16.99 CA

ISBN: 978-0-85766-294-1


In the year 2040, governments are either embracing the new possibilities brought by nanotechnology or waging war against it. Often, waging war against a thing means using the very thing you’re waging war against, keeping it for oneself while trying to keep it out of the hands of the general populace.

Kaden Lane is a doctorate student at the University of California, San Francisco. He and his friends are up-and-coming new voices in the field of neuroscience. But when Kade and his friends are caught using and improving the banned nano-drug Nexus in their research, they’re pulled into a war they never intended to fight.

As various governments fight to keep the general populace and other governments from using new technologies to evolve into Transhuman and Posthuman beings, powerful new laws and international agreements are written. Human rights are redefined,  liberties taken away.

Ramez Naam is an expert in the technological field. He has been involved in the production of some of the most widely used software in the world, as well as nanotechnology research. Naam is an advocate for human biological enhancements, and was even awarded the HG Wells Award for Contributions to Transhumanism by the World Transhumanist Association. His previously published nonfiction work, More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement, supports his advocacy of these enhancements.

Given Naam’s background, it should come as no surprise that Nexus is a brilliant story, filled with smart, well-informed opinions from both sides of the debate on the ethics of biological enhancements; and of course, the concerns of those who fear unknown quantities simply because the future is unknown are covered, as well. Naam’s experience with emerging technologies lends realism to the scientific work carried out and studied in Nexus, ensuring that all of it is believable, and making a strong bond between the reader and those being vilified by people in power.

Naam’s writing is strong, clear and concise, with perfect ebb and flow in pacing. Readers are allowed to read at their leisure throughout the bulk of the story, but are pulled along at breakneck pace during action scenes filled with excellent tension and potential dangers ready to explode at any minute. Characters are wholly believable, with complete personalities and understandable back-stories that enable readers to relate to each and every one of them, in turn, but always coming back around to root for the protagonists in the end. Throughout Nexus, new twists and turns are introduced with new characters, each with their own motivations, causing readers to invest heavily in getting to know each of them and explore their own thoughts on each character’s motivations before deciding whether they are in agreement or disagreement with their views. This is no easy feat for a writer, but Naam makes it look like nothing in the world could be more natural.

At the heart of Nexus is a deep exploration of the course we as a society are currently on and where it is bringing us. In Nexus, one need only be suspected of being in breach of the Emerging Technological Threats Act to be scooped up by Homeland Defense’s Emerging Risks Directorate, or the ERD. These suspects have no right to a lawyer, no right to a trial by jury. They can be detained indefinitely, subject to the whims of a few select people; they just simply disappear one day, the story of their arrest appearing in the news as a government victory over potential terroristic threats to national security. Sound familiar? It should. These are the very provisions in the recent US National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, that caused such an uproar with activists online and was sadly dismissed as inconsequential by most members of the general public.

In so much of the scientific progress we make, the potential for abuse exists. With each new discovery, we must ask ourselves anew, “What price are we willing to pay to make this leap? Is this my decision to make for all of humankind?” And this is the crux, the main theme of Nexus. With technology moving and evolving so quickly that we, as a society, cannot keep up, science becomes as dangerous as it is beneficial. But which outweighs the other? Who gets to decide these things and enforce them? All-powerful government agencies who can strip basic rights away from human beings on a whim? The folly of that is as ludicrous as there being no oversight at all. As with all things, there must be balance. Too bad that’s something humankind has never been too good at …

Parts of this story are truly terrifying, which is really saying something, as it isn’t a dystopian future Naam paints, but the future reason and logic tell us to expect based on our current course; there is no reason to believe this isn’t what our future holds. Only if a willingness to explore and fully understand new things trumps fear can we ever hope to change this. One of the most moving and powerful scenes in the book sums it up nicely. In part:

“Power is best when it’s distributed most broadly. That’s what Democracy means. That’s what freedom means. The right to determine your individual destiny belongs in your hands, and no one else’s.”

Nexus is a story everyone should read. As a cautionary tale, it will likely be considered in league with Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World in the years to come. The question is, will we learn from this one?

Book Review: Mockingbird, by Chuck Wendig

Posted in Angry Robot Army, Arts & Entertainment, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Occult & Supernatural, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2012 by Jessica Nelson

Title: Mockingbird

Author: Chuck Wendig

Publisher: Angry Robot Books

Length: 416 pages

Price: $7.99 US/ $8.99 CAN

ISBN: 978-0-85766-233-1


A lot of people have troubled pasts. Miriam Black has a troubled past, present, and future. After a dangerous series of events almost costs her life, Miriam has settled down and tried to live some semblance of a normal life for the man she loves. But torn between wanting Louis and wanting to be herself and do her thing, Miriam decides her way and the highway are the best way for her. This time, Miriam is seeing things she’s never seen before. The forces of darkness are after Miriam. They don’t like that she’s been changing fate.

Mockingbird is the second book of the Miriam Black series by author Chuck Wendig. Wendig is a self-described penmonkey. He is a novelist, a screenwriter, and a game designer. His website and blog,, offers up essays, writing advice, flash fiction contests, author interviews, and any number of other interesting tidbits for readers to enjoy. Other published works include Blackbirds (Miriam Black #1), Bait Dog, 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story, and Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey.

Where Blackbirds winds up for a one-two punch, Mockingbird makes the first strike, and it’s a devastating blow to the head. True to form, Wendig’s descriptions are gruesome, graphic, and vivid. Readers are gut-punched by unexpected twists after constant misdirection leaves them dizzily hanging off the ropes. Even the ropes themselves are made of different ends of storyline being pulled out of nowhere and being twisted and braided into one neatly-plaited cohesive whole.

Wendig’s writing style is tight, fluid, and gripping, making the story easy to pick up and tough to put down. His knack for capable foreshadowing has only gotten stronger in the scant few months between the release of Blackbirds and Mockingbird. When readers are confronted with “The way is shut,” we know there’s about to be a whole lot of death going on, even though the scene it’s set into is harmless enough. I’m already looking forward to Cormorant (Miriam Black #3), due out from Angry Robot Books sometime in 2013.

I would highly recommend Mockingbird to any mature reader who enjoys a little piss in their Cheerios. If you enjoy the Odd Thomas series or The Dead Zone, you’ll find much to love in the Miriam Black books, especially if you like a little dirt and grit between your teeth. If you’ve ever thought Odd Thomas is pretty cool, but he’s a little too clean-cut and straight-laced, Miriam Black is for you.

Book Review: The Great Game, by Lavie Tidhar

Posted in Angry Robot Army, Arts & Entertainment, Book Reviews, Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Science Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by Jessica Nelson

Title: The Great Game (The Bookman Histories, #3)

Author: Lavie Tidhar

Publisher: Angry Robot, January 2012

Length: 416 pages

Price: $7.99 US / $8.99 CAN

ISBN: 9780857661999

When Mycroft Holmes and his own love, Alice, both turn up dead in a mysterious string of murders, retired Bureau agent Smith is reactivated and tasked with finding the killer. But that isn’t as easy as it might sound. Suddenly, everyone wants him dead, and he doesn’t know why. He used to be a player in this, the great game, but he suspects that this time, he is only a pawn. They used to call him The Harvester, but now there’s a new Harvester in town … and the game is afoot.

Lavie Tidhar has authored a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, and is the editor of The Apex Book of World SF, volumes one and two. His short stories have appeared in magazines such as Strange Horizons and Apex Magazine, and have been selected for numerous anthologies. Israeli-born, Tidhar has lived and travelled in numerous countries. He has a passion for World SF, and has been striving to bring lesser-known authors into greater prominence since 2009.

The Great Game is the third novel of Tidhar’s The Bookman Histories series. I feared I may be at a bit of a disadvantage in this review, as I haven’t read the first two books, The Bookman and Camera Obscura, but to my delight, this fear was groundless. Anyone wishing to jump into the middle of the Bookman Histories will find that Tidhar has done a fantastic job of making this book work as a stand-alone story as well as part of the greater series. And what a story it is …

An overabundance of commas and parenthetical clauses makes the story move a bit slower than it should at times, but it is such an overwhelmingly fun story that this is hardly a problem. Tidhar seems to have made a game of the book itself, challenging himself to reference as many real and fictitious characters from the Victorian era as he possibly could. From the expected cast of the Sherlock Holmes stories to Tesla and Edison, Harry Houdini, and the hunchback of Notre Dame, each new character is a familiar delight to be discovered anew. Even Ian Fleming’s M. and Q make appearances. Between them all, The Great Game could be considered fan fiction at its finest.

As if that isn’t enough to keep readers entertained, the story also includes an alien race of lizard people who have taken over seats of power in government. Spies, monsters, machines, and mad scientists fill every page, and the action never stops. From the foot of Big Ben to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the castle of Vlad the Impaler, readers are taken on a joyride through some of history’s most famous places. Twists and turns await around every corner, constantly leaving readers wonder what will happen next.

With such a vivid cast of characters and such a range of settings, The Great Game is already something of a bold experiment, but Tidhar’s daring hardly stops there. In the end, the author uses this great cast to ask some of the bravest questions humankind has ever asked of itself: What is it that makes us truly human? When pieces of us can be ruined, taken out and replaced if necessary, where is the threshold between human and inhuman? When intelligent machines can be built with an awareness of self, are they as human as actual humans? What separates us, what defines us?

After asking these tough questions, Tidhar takes a final great leap, which I cannot help but quote:

“And what does the future hold?” she couldn’t help but ask, sarcastically.

The machine made a small, apologetic sound. “Great horror,” it said. “Or great beauty.”

“What does it depend on?”

“On humanity,” the machine said, simply.

Guest Post by AE Rought and Amanda Rutter

Posted in Angry Robot Army, Arts & Entertainment, Books, Fiction, Guest Post, Occult & Supernatural, Romantic (not to be confused with Romance), Science Fiction, Strange Chemistry, YA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by Jessica Nelson

On March 7th, I recieved a press release from Angry Robot books. It was about a new book they had just signed, by author AE Rought, and the synopsis really got me excited to read the book … so excited I HAD to have a guest post all about it, so you could be excited with me. I asked the author and Amanda Rutter at Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry both if they could share with us what they hope for this book, and how they feel about its pending publication. So, without further ado, a guest post, by AE Rought and Amanda Rutter.


*Photo courtesy of the author

Imagine my surprise, shortly after BROKEN’s press release to be approached about a guest post. Thanks for the invite, Jessica!

To start things off, here’s the synopsis that caught Amanda’s eye:

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.

And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

BROKEN really is the book of my heart. Not sure what that says about me with how I twisted Emma and Alex’s lives… But, it’s the book I HAD to write.

I’ve always been a reader, and went to college for creative writing, but I was never exactly sure what I intended to do with it. Journalism wasn’t my thing. Teaching, either. Then, I decided to give writing a whirl after a visit to the bookstore left me empty handed. A couple years later, some serious spanking in edits, and I had my first novel. It sold to a start-up company, and I settled in, growing and learning as the company did.

Then, I guess I started to grow out of what I had been writing.

While I write adult romance, I hardly ever read it. I read YA. So, when I decided it was time for a change, I wanted to “go home” and try to create what I’ve devoured. The switch wasn’t easy, and I have to go back and cool off some of the heat in a of couple books. The subject matters, tension and pacing, romantic and sexual tensions are all different in YA, and I LOVE it here. It sounds so trite and silly, but it just fits.

BROKEN isn’t my first written YA novel. After utterly rewriting a YA novel, I struggled to really connect with any of the others I had started. Tired of my brain barking at the end of its chain, I called my best YA beta buddy. I told her I had to write something dark and twisted, epic and achingly romantic, because nothing else was working for me. She didn’t call me crazy—I hadn’t written a story like that yet—she listened while I explained what I needed to write, and then we bounced ideas around. I’d started another reimagining, had a blast with it, but it didn’t give me the dark romance I craved. Once the discussion turned to Gothic novels, things suddenly clicked into place. She said, “Ohmigod, if you write that I’m gonna cry,” and my writing fate was sealed.

When my agent told me Amanda at Strange Chemistry was interested in the book, I was thrilled. More than anything, I wanted an editor to “get it” and want my book. Amanda taking it to Acquisitions made me beyond happy. (And so did the contract offer!!) Angry Robot puts out amazing books—it’s an honor to be a Strange Chemist as Amanda calls us.

All I really want when I write is to have readers love the book. Sure, I think rabid fans would be fun, and I can tell you in excruciating detail what Alex should look like if BROKEN were to ever go to film. (Tall, hot, scarred!) But I tend not to be a dreamer. Putting more readers into tears would be awesome, giving them the willies would too. Hell, I creeped myself out in one scene. But, what I truly hope for is YA readers who want to live in a dark, heart wrenching story to love BROKEN, and to tell their friends about it. If they close the cover, with that bittersweet ache in their chest because of loving it, and wishing it wasn’t over, well… I couldn’t ask for more.

My turn – me being Amanda Rutter, the editor for Strange Chemistry! It’s always interesting when you receive a new manuscript into your inbox from an agent – definitely an exciting event, but also one that leaves you wondering whether this will be the right “fit” for the list of books you want to build.

Well! As you can see from the synopsis above, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I had to take a look at Broken. From the perspective of an editor, it also helped that Ann had been previously published and obviously had great enthusiasm and knowledge of the YA market. For me, this is an important factor in deciding to take on a book, because you know the author will “get” what they need to do.

When I read Broken I was entirely drawn into the story of Emma and Alex. I gasped and sighed and stayed late at work to finish it – there is no better sign than this that a book should be published. Now I just can’t wait for other people to read it!

In terms of the market, I can see people loving this if they loved the dark, heart-rending relationships in Buffy; if they loved the breathless love of Twilight and L J Smith novels; if they like the twisted scares of old Point Horror. Broken is a novel that has a truly timeless quality and will appeal to many on its release in January 2013. Are you excited yet?



UPDATE: I had the opportunity to review Broken October 8, 2012. You can (and should!) read that here.

Book Review: Empire State, by Adam Christopher

Posted in Angry Robot Army, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2012 by Jessica Nelson

Title: Empire State

Author: Adam Christopher

Publisher: Angry Robot, 2011

Length: 448 pages

Price: $12.99

ISBN: 9780857661937

Rex Braybury is a small-time bootlegger in prohibition-era New York City, and he’s got enemies. He’s got things to prove, and killing someone bigger and badder than him just might be the thing that helps him do that. But when Rex wakes up in a dark alley and finds the body crushed and mutilated in ways he couldn’t have done, he doesn’t know what to think. He’s lost, and he’s got a killer headache.

Rad Bradley is a private detective in the Empire State. When his best friend, ace reporter Kane Fortuna, calls Rad and tells him he’s found a body and needs Rad’s help, Rad runs right over. Evidence points to there being a robot loose in the city, and if that’s true, the whole city could be dead in a day. With the police showing no interest in the body, it’s up to Rad and Kane to figure out what’s going on, and stop it.

Empire State is thrill-ride tale, with twists and turns that just don’t stop, right up until the end. Warring superheroes, a private dick, and rogue robots in prohibition-era New York City … this alone is a hell of a hook … then add a mysterious woman in a red dress, a crazy cult, the local speakeasy barkeep who always has an ear to the ground, and a hard-hitting reporter with no lack of interesting and useful friends, and readers are all but guaranteed to be entertained.

As with a lot of stories involving masked heroes and villains, Empire State has, at its heart, a lot of questions about identity and self. It explores in no small amount of detail what it is that makes up human identity, and how strongly we let ourselves be bound to those concepts. “Just in case masks alone aren’t enough to make readers ask these questions,” the author seems to think, “let’s throw in an alternate dimension or two, and really shake things up.”

Author Adam Christopher’s prose is strong and unflinching, setting backdrops both lively and drab with the perfect mix of details to start the scene and space to let the reader’s mind fill in the rest. His characters are based on pulp clichés in all the best ways, letting them solidify quickly and carry the tale forward with nary the bat of an eye. Although Empire State is largely a sci-fi noir adventure novel, Christopher has also incorporated a few steampunk elements, just for fun, and they never feel out of place. Oh, and humor … did I mention humor? It’s got that, too, usually tucked into the middle of an otherwise tense scene. People who read in bed while their significant other sleeps may want to practice bursting into gales of laughter silently, or risk having to explain to your bleary-eyed counterpart what just happened in your book, which will likely be stranger than what just happened in their dreams.

I really enjoyed reading Empire State, and I think most readers of science fiction with an appreciation for comics and graphic novels will, too. If you don’t read comics or graphic novels, though, fear not … there are no pictures. Although, I think, it would be really cool if there were.


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