The Moon King by Neil Williamson
All is not well in Glassholm. Life under the moon has always been so predictable: day follows night, wax phases to wane and, after the despair of every Darkday, a person’s mood soars to euphoria at Full. So it has been for five hundred years, ever since the Lunane captured the moon and tethered it to the city.
Now, all that has changed. Amidst rumours of unsettling dreams and strange whispering children, society is disintegrating into unrest and violence. The very sea has turned against Glassholm and the island’s luck monkeys have gone wild, distributing new fates to all and sundry. Turmoil is coming.
Three people find themselves at the eye of the storm: a former policeman investigating a series of macabre murders, an outsider artist embroiled in the murky intrigues of revolution, and a renegade engineer tasked with fixing the ancient machine at the city’s heart. Each must fulfil their role or see Glassholm shaken apart, while all are subject to the machinations of their inscrutable and eternal monarch, The Moon King.
Weird – in a good way! Interesting, mixed, imaginative and odd.
I didn’t enjoy this as much as Neil’s short story collection, as it lacks the lyrical edge that made his writing so compelling in the shorts. However, the ideas are in full force – the world reminds me of China Mieville’s New Weird style, tilting over the edge into strangeness but weaving enough human characteristics and reactions in to keep it understandable. The plot is interesting, weaving three different characters into each other, without revealing the connections until towards the end. I loved some of the details – the luck monkeys, Darkday and Full, the machines and the history. But I wasn’t as sucked in as I would have liked to be…a flaw as a reader, rather than the writer, I think. It’s certainly a weird, unusual, odd book – and all the better for it.
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell
The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.
Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth — that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.
But if she is to have her voice heard, she’s going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies…
I was expecting this to be longer. I would have liked it to be longer! It seemed…well, I had that feeling when I finished it of “Oh. Is that it?”
That said, it’s very good. It’s a mix of Miss-Marple style village life, with a large dose of supernatural and a seasoning of personal angst. I would have liked to see more of the enemy (although I believe there are more novellas to come, so I assume they’ll be back?) and more of the village’s characters as well as the three heroines, but the plot and characters as they stand are engaging and tense. Worth a read!
Silversands by Gareth L Powell
In an age where interstellar travel is dangerous and unpredictable, and no-one knows exactly where they’ll end up, Avril Bradley is a Communications Officer aboard a ship sent to re-contact as many lost souls as possible. But a mysterious explosion strands her in a world of political intrigue, espionage and subterfuge; a world of retired cops, digital ghosts and corporate assassins – all fighting for possession of vital computer data that has lain hidden for almost a century. . .
I have to admit….I couldn’t get into this. There just wasn’t the hook; there wasn’t a catch that grabbed me and got me in. Sure, there’s an explosion, and someone coming back from a long journey to a mysterious message, and a big secret that could hold the future for humankind…
Bah. When I put it like that, it sounds like this book should be really exciting – and I’m sure it is! If you like that kind of thing. Which I just…didn’t. I read the first few chapters and then skipped on, and eventually did the Kindle equivalent of putting it down and not picking it up again – which for me is skimming past it in my carousel every time I tried to find something to read!
I would, however, highly recommend the Ack-Ack Macaque series by the same author, so it’s obviously just my taste in sci-fi!