The Smoke by Simon Ings

The SmokeQuick FYI before we begin this review…

You know when you’re a kid and you’re minding your own business, just sitting down somewhere behaving, and then out of nowhere your older sibling comes along and sideswipes your entire head with a giant, heavy, feather pillow, knocking you into the floor? And before you even knew what happened, they just keep hitting you with the pillow? That’s what this book will do to you if you’re not carefully paying attention. 

Simon Ings’ The Smoke is about love, loss and loneliness in an incomprehensible world. 

Humanity has been split into three different species. Mutual incomprehension has fractured the globe. As humans race to be the first of their kind to reach the stars, another Great War looms.

For you that means returning to Yorkshire and the town of your birth, where factories churn out the parts for gigantic spaceships. You’re done with the pretentions of the capital and its unfathomable architecture. You’re done with the people of the Bund, their easy superiority and unstoppable spread throughout the city of London and beyond. You’re done with Georgy Chernoy and his questionable defeat of death. You’re done with his daughter, Fel, and losing all the time. You’re done with love.

But soon enough you will find yourself in the Smoke again, drawn back to the life you thought you’d left behind.

You’re done with love. But love’s not done with you.

To be completely honest, there is a lot going on in those pages. This novel is not for everyone. However, Simon Ings has clearly grasped and delivered to his readers an unmistakable grief and the loss of any need to go on. Those are emotions I find hard to describe when I’m writing and I know other authors do too. To do this well is commendable, particularly in an alternative history setting.

But, reader beware. It is extremely easy to get completely lost in this book. As a matter of fact, I’ve had it on my night stand a few months and it has taken me a while to put myself into the right head space to read the story and be able to give it the attention it deserves. That does NOT mean I didn’t like it or couldn’t get into it, but alternately that after reading a fair bit I realized I needed to be able to concentrate in order to not get completely lost. Books with later release dates were finished before this one as The Smoke is not a particularly easy read. Not by any measure.

With most difficult tasks, though, I found the reward to be satisfying. Characterization and writing were both wonderful and I enjoyed the plot, too. The story will break your heart if you’re not careful.

For a reader only just beginning to enjoy the science fiction genre, if you’re looking for a novel to get your literary feet wet, maybe try something else until you’re ready. Or maybe buy it read it slowly in order to keep track of what’s really happening within the plot. I most certainly do give my recommendation, though. Well done, Simon Ings.

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A Demon In Silver by R.S. Ford

20180619_192455.jpgReleased June 12, 2018
Titan Books

In a world where magic has vanished, rival nations vie for power in a continent devastated by war. When a young farm girl, Livia, demonstrates magical powers for the first time in a century there are many across the land that will kill to obtain her power. The Duke of Gothelm’s tallymen, the blood-soaked Qeltine Brotherhood, and cynical mercenary Josten Cade; all are searching for Livia and the power she wields.

But, Livia finds that guardians can come from the most unlikely places… and that the old gods are returning to a world they abandoned.

I thought this book was incredible. It lacked very little and the premise is captivating. This is the first in a series, if I’ve understood correctly. I certainly hope I manage to get the next book on pre-order so that I don’t have to wait for it. I dislike waiting and this is one story I would like to hang with until the very end.

I don’t want to go into too many details of my thoughts, though. I feel like in doing so I will be giving my blog readers too many spoilers. I can divulge that there are a few surprises that remain surprising, twists that remain twisty, and turns that lead places incredibly fun to imagine.

Four stars.

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REVIEWS COMING SOON!

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Review to post 6.21.18
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Review to post 6.20.18

The Rig by Roger Levy

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Release date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Titan Books

*EDITED to note that this book will not be released for Kindle until May 22, 2018. *

Rig 

On a desert planet, two boys meet, sparking a friendship that will change human society forever.

On the windswept world of Bleak, a string of murders lead a writer to a story with unbelievable ramifications.

One man survives the vicious attacks, but is left with a morbid fascination with death; the perfect candidate for the perilous job of working on a rig.

Welcome to the System. Here the concept of a god has been abandoned, and a new faith pervades: AfterLife, a social media platform that allows subscribers a chance at resurrection, based on the votes of other users.

So many Lives, forever interlinked, and one structure at the centre of it all: the rig.

Strange Horizons has called Roger Levy the ‘heir to Philip K. Dick.’ That’s a pretty tall order for an author to live up to, eh? I typically dislike when two authors are compared to each other because I rarely see enough similarities to even recognize that a comparison has been made. Well, as it happens, it’s not far from truth. I found Roger Levy’s writing style to be refreshingly gloomy, blunt, and to the point. I believe the comparison to Philip K. Dick to be right on the money.

The premise of the story is unique and I imagine that’s one reason why Levy has been compared to Philip K. Dick. Roger Levy spins his tale with a handle on the English language unlike most. He creates characters that are both believable and unique, but the ways in which he presents their stories is never lacking any of the elements required for entertainment and thought. If there are any science fiction book clubs looking for a good read this week, I think The Rig is worthy of a mention, but with a warning–You will ask yourself an awful lot of questions when you read this book and some of them may have answers you’re not ready for. But, be that as it may, read it anyway.

Without hitting my blog readers with a ton of spoilers, I will say that I can confidently give my recommendation to The Rig and I look forward to finding more titles from Roger Levy in the future.

KINDLE and PAPERBACK formats are available at Amazon.com.