Strange Horizons review IF THEN and The Destructives

Andy Sawyer has reviewed my two science fiction novels IF THEN and The Destructives for the prestigious Strange Horizons. He writes, “together they make one of the most intriguing and disturbing near-future speculations published for some years.”
I responded to this review because it comes from an experienced and well-considered critic.
According to his Wikipedia entry, he is “the full-time Librarian/Administrator of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection in the Special Collections Department in the Sydney Jones Library at the University of Liverpool, as well as Course Director of the University’s M.A. in Science Fiction Studies program. He also serves as Reviews Editor for Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction.” So it’s no surprise that he begins with review with the influence of Olaf Stapledon upon the two novels, most explicitly in IF THEN, which synthesizes Stapledon’s First World War experience as an ambulance driver with his later superhuman novel Odd John.

Stapledon’s papers are held at the University of Liverpool, and I made liberal use of his war-time correspondence with his fiance Agnes as one of my sources for the war sections of IF THEN. I was particularly struck by his image of a star-shell of an augur for a new age – taking a weapon of destruction as a light for a new age. The paradox of this symbol animates both books. On Tuesday 26th July, at Waterstone’s in Liverpool One, there is going to be a public conversation and reading between myself and Andy Sawyer. Do come along if you are in the North-West.

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