Tag Archive: Angry Robot


hang wireTitle: Hang Wire

Author: Adam Christopher

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

Ted is worried, he’s been sleep walking and each episode seems to coincide with the murders carried out by the Hang Wire killer.

Meanwhile the circus is in town, but the Celtic dance troop seem to be taking their act a little too seriously, the manager of the Olde World Funfair has started talking to his rides and the new acrobats frequent absences are causing tensions with the rest of the performers.

Elsewhere in the city there are other new arrivals, immortals searching for an ancient power, a primeval evil which, if unopposed, could destroy the world.  

Hang Wire is Adam Christopher’s fourth book and it is his best so far. That’s not saying the three that went before – Empire State, Seven Wonders and The Age Atomic – were not good, they were very good in fact, what I am saying is over the course of the previous books I have seen Adam’s style and mastery of his craft grow and expand. The result is Hang Wire, a pitch perfect story set in the world of nameless monsters and forgotten gods running rampant on the streets of San Francisco. Adam seems determined not to tie himself down with one genre, so far we’ve had a noire-gumshoe tale set in an alternative Manhattan, we’ve had a superhero team fighting the last great super-villain and we’ve returned to the alternative world of the Empire State with a tale or impending Armageddon and nuclear powered robots. Now he’s turned his unique and fresh style of writing towards mythology, but not your usual run of the mill mythos – there are no Thor’s or Zeus’ here – for this tale he’s mined the rich folklore of Hawaii, Korea and China. It’s a credit to his style that he can switch between genres so easily, whilst they all do sit firmly within the Urban Fantasy section, they each warrant their own section within.

This book also differs from his previous ones. They were all tightly focused tales centred on a few characters set within one or two locations. Hang Wire is on a more grander scale, it is not only set in the present day but it also builds a back-story through a series of flashbacks ranging from Oklahoma 1889, to the 1906 San Francisco quake, and on through the decades with interludes spread across the United States. It also has a larger cast, including Kanaloa Hawaiian god of life and death, Nezha the Chinese trickster god and Tangun the legendary founder god of Korea it also has their alter egos, and those alter egos have friends, loved ones. There is Jack Newhaven – the brilliantly named Magical Zanaar – ringmaster for The Magical Zanaar’s travelling Caravan of Arts and Sciences, his carnival manager Joel Duvall, the mystery man known only as Hirewire, Malcolm the leader of the Stonefire Celtic dance troop, Ted, Alison, Benny, Zane and everyone else that gets caught up in the events surrounding the killings carried out by the serial killer known as Hang Wire. All these elements – the characters, the locations, the back-story going back over a century – come together in a gripping tale that whips along at a frantic pace.

Adam has always put out tightly written stories, there is no fluff, no side bars that take the reader away from the action. I like this style, it drags you in and locks you down for the duration. To say a book is un put downable is a cliché that is liberally bandied about, but here is a book that is definitely that. Adam also uses his near-trademark chapter ending cliff-hanger so the reader can’t just leave it until tomorrow to carry on, you have to read just one more chapter to find out what happens. And then he goes and does it again at the end of that one. In a way his writing is episodic, his work could very easily be translated to TV – if that is intentional I do not know, but it is a style that makes for very easy reading.

I’d like to say that Adam has hit his peak with Hang Wire, the style, the dialogue, the characters and the story all flow and wind their way into your head like a worm until it takes you over, the result is you’ll find you’ve lost blocks of time and have a pile of undone jobs but a satisfied feeling that you’ve read a dammed good story.

all-is-fair-by-emma-newmanTitle: All Is Fair

Author: Emma Newman

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

The Duke of Londinium is dead, long live the Duke. The dust has barely settled, and Will enthroned as head of the court before events threaten to overtake everyone. Cathy is gravely wounded and recovering, Will begins to realise he’s been duped and perhaps an innocent man has paid for it with his life.

 Sam, an innocent to the ways of the Fae and the Split Worlds, is made an unexpected offer by one of the Elemental Courts most powerful Lords, an offer he has little choice to refuse, an offer that he realises he can put to some good.

 Max, the last surviving Arbiter of the Bath Chapter, draws ever closer to finding out the truth behind the destruction of his order. But can he stay true to his oath without being destroyed by his master, who’s insanity threatens the stability of all the wolrds.                         

There is a definite feeling, with this third book in the Split Worlds series, of things coming to an end. Threads, that started with Sam veering from the walk home to take a drunken piss, and finding himself embroiled in the schemes of the Fae and their puppets, have reached a sort of conclusion. But things are not that clear cut with this story, whilst everyone – Cathy, Will, Sam, Max and the Gargoyle – all come to the fore and have their moment to shine. The ending we get to this opening trilogy in what looks to be an epic tale is more of a beginning. Due to the events in the closing half of the book the balance of power across the Split Worlds shifts, old institutions fall and the treaty that holds everything together seems to be paper thin, leading me to think that open war is not that far away.

It’s been a slow build up, Emma has taken her time to establish her world, and the characters that inhabit it. Whilst some authors might have been tempted to have had certain major events take place earlier in the series, Emma has held back and let the story unfold naturally, let circumstances evolve so the characters find themselves in the right place – physically and mentally – to force the major events to happen, and to live through them. I’d been hoping for a while that Max and his soul-locked Gargoyle would have more to do, here finally they do, and in some ways are instrumental in events enfolding as they do.

There has been little to fault along the way, Emma has a gift at creating a colourful world out of the drab, monochrome world of the Nether. She has also chosen characters that can be moulded into something more than your run-of-the-mill heroes and heroines. Like the previous book she also covers some dark themes within the narrative, slavery, persecution, rape and murder. Not what anyone would have expected after events in the first book, where Society and the puppets seemed twee and time-locked in a gentler way of life. It was a great piece of misdirection, whilst Lord Poppy was obviously not someone to be messed with, he was by far the lesser of the evils that would follow. The hierarchy of the Fae is still unclear, but the schemes and games they play through their puppets are equally as dangerous to them as everyone else.

In this third book we also get a better insight into the Sorcerers, as Erkstrand continues his investigations to what happened at the Moot. And we get to meet another of his kind (or two), whose way of doing things differs so much from Erkstrand’s that they are chalk and cheese. The subplot surrounding these two characters highlights the problems in policing the Split Worlds, and making sure the treaty is enforced. It also helps to highlight what a disjointed group the Sorcerers are, and also how their power is subverted so easily.

All the characters have grown from our initial introduction to them, but one more than others. Will started out as every inch the product of his culture, and after his marriage to Cathy, and dalliance with Amelia, seemed to be heading towards becoming the sort of man that Cathy had been trying to run away from all her life. But Will’s eyes are opened in this third book, I’m not saying he changes his colours totally but there are glimmers that perhaps the union between him and Cathy may be the most important – and pivotal – in the history of the Split Worlds. For whilst this third book has many endings, to threads that begun in book one, it also has many beginnings. Two new characters introduced – I’m sure – will prove to be important as the series continues. Their very nature makes them important as, in a way, they are the last of their kind. And in order for the Split Worlds to survive, and for Mundanus not to be overrun, they will have to come forwards and make their stand.

On top of all this there is Sam, who has come across as the comic relief for much of the story so far. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Sam may well be the only person that can link all the worlds together, he inherits a position and power that seems to be able to trump everything else, he becomes something the Fae cannot deal with, but something they will have to because Sam has set himself a mission, and he intends to see it through no-matter who tries to get in his way. After having been the stooge for Lord Poppy’s schemes and games it was good to see Sam make him cringe and get some form of payback for all the suffering he has endured.    

As a debut fantasy the Split Worlds nails it, and Emma pins her colours to the mast as someone who can weave a great story, that can grow and evolve as events within the story dictate.   

any other name

Title: Any Other Name

Author: Emma Newman

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

RRP: Print – £8.99 / Kindle – £5.49

 

Lady Rose has fallen, all those associated to her were taken by the Agency, and the lucky ones have escaped into hiding. Londinium is in turmoil, the Duke – a Rosa – is gone along with his Patroon, leaving a power vacuum. William Reticulata-Iris is told upon his wedding that he has been chosen to take residence in Londinium and take the throne. But William has doubt his new wife – Catherine – is up for the task. Catherine knows she isn’t, she has been forced into an arranged marriage, sent to a city she does not know, and finds herself part of a family that expects its members to follow orders unfalteringly, no matter what.

The Arbiter Max, along with the gargoyle that houses his soul, continues his investigations into the murder of everyone in his Chapter House. Those investigations take him north and the secret base of the Agency, where he uncovers deeper mysteries surrounding fallen houses, and those that do not conform to what is seen to be acceptable in Society.

Sam, the unwitting Mundane who seems to have the protection of the mysterious Lord Iron, sees his life implode, his marriage fail and his job gone. Becoming embroiled in the events surrounding the Master of Ceremonies of Aquae Sulis kidnapping have left him a man unsure what is real and what is not. And also leads him to once again become involved in the plots and games the Fae and their Puppets enjoy.

With this second story set in the Split Worlds Emma has upped the stakes considerably, she has also altered the tone, highlighting the plight of women in the patriarchal society of the Fae touched. Arranged marriages, suppression of expression, hints at honour crimes and the disturbing subject of marital rape. This is a much darker tale, gone are the whimsical fairies who took such joy at making the Fae touched puppets dance, now we are presented with a society where women have no rights, except the right to perform properly for their husbands, and uphold the standing of the family in Society.

As much as I’d like to think of William, on some levels, as a sort of good guy, overall I can’t get away from the fact he’s every inch the product of his society as Catherine’s abusive father. He may not have physically hurt her, but he still expects the devotion to Society, and family, her father expected. Also his reaction to the possibility she may love another – despite him having a mistress – showed how he views Catherine, and his mistress come to that.  Despite this he is still the only one of all the Fae touched male characters who shows any indication that he could change, his experiences on his Grand Tour seem to have opened his eyes to the larger world, beyond the Nether. But there is a long way to go for the William now to become anywhere near the hero of the piece he could be.

As for Catherine, she is a different character from the one first encountered in Between Two Thorns, she is less confident, in fact for the first part of the book this change in her did become testing, but I can see why it was done. Emma had to get Cathy into a place where she realised something had to be done for all the women of the Nether, and not be selfish and only think of her own needs. Her arc in this book is the most striking, we see her grow into her role, realising that in order for there to be change, change has to come from within.

But events are working against everyone – mainly William and Cathy – and no matter what they both feel and want forces outside of their control are moving pieces into position for a conflict that may have been in the planning for a long time. This time round we see that maybe the Sorcerer’s are not as all-powerful as first suggested, in fact Erkstrand seems even more distant, out of touch, than he did last time. There are some serious turns of events for the Sorcerer of Wessex, and Max and the gargoyle. In fact the gargoyle is fast becoming my favourite character, his childlike enthusiasm to believe the best in people is infectious. But I do feel he is wasted, there are several times when I wished he would bash heads, but perhaps Emma is saving that for the coming conflict?

This time out Emma has opened up the world of the Fae touched, there are glimpses of the power struggles, the schemes and hints at the dark deeds driving this story along. As with her first book don’t expect a tidy package, this is so evidently part of a wider story, a story we have yet to pass the opening section of. She is sparing in the information she shares, but gives you enough to keep going, and when you turn that last page enough to make you think “damn, that’s it!” For cliff-hangers to work – whether on TV, or in comics and books – they need to give enough to grab the reader, but hold back enough to make you come back. You get that in spades in the closing chapters.

age atomicTitle: The Age Atomic

Author: Adam Christopher

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

RRP: Print £8.99 – Kindle £5.49

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle. Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms for Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale. As Rad uncovers a new threat to his city, Atoms for Peace prepare their army for a transdimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.

The Age Atomic, what’s that about then I hear you ask? Well it’s a gritty noire detective story, mixed with fantasy and science fiction and the subtly blended with smooth classic 1950s style robots. You take all those ingredients, mix them with alternate universes and a frenetic prose, and you have Adam Christopher’s follow-up to 2012s fantastic Empire State. There, those few brief sentences contain all you need to know about this book, but there’s more to it than that.

Rad Bradley is back as the hard bitten and harder nosed Private Eye from the Pocket universe, known as the Empire State. But things are not going well for Rad or his city. The Fissure – the spatial link that joins the Pocket to the Origin, New York – has vanished, and Rad’s city has been plunged into a hard winter that shows no sign of ending. To make matters worse the city is being rocked by tremors that are collapsing buildings and threatening to rip the city apart. Rad is also into it up to his neck, a new case, a madman building a robot army, his friend – and probably the only man who understands the nature of the Fissure – Captain Carson missing, and a pretty secret agent who has an agenda all of her own.

Things in the Origin are not too well either; Captain Nimrod finds his department under threat from Atoms for Peace and its mysterious director Evelyn McHale. The power he once wielded slowly eroded and his department seemingly under siege in a post McCarthy 1954. Plus for some reason all contact with the Pocket has ceased, and the agents he’s sent to investigate are missing.

As with the previous book the story takes place in both universes, but unlike last time here we get more of the action in New York.  That’s not to say there’s not plenty going on in the Empire State; the fast opening first quarter is a breathless example of tight writing and multiple cliff hangers. If Adam is adept at one thing it’s his skill at keeping the reader hooked, constantly I’m reminded of the old black & white Buster Crabbe starring Flash Gordon or Buck Rodgers adventures, every episode ending with the hero’s in a dire predicament. That’s not to say every chapter is predictable in how it ends and the next starts. The thrills are unexpected and there are some interesting curve balls thrown in that Flash or Buck would have had a challenge sorting out.

All the surviving characters from the first book are back in play (including one who everyone would have thought they’d seen the last of), around them Adam has woven a densely complex web, multiple plots that all rumble along beside eachother, gradually throughout the course of the book these plots jockey for position until the endgame where you find out they are all intricately linked. Likewise Adam’s characters weave in and out of the plots, all have a part to play, and as before not all are as clear cut as it seems. Characters coloured a muddy shade of grey are nothing new, but here the grey is a little deeper. Double-crosses come, unexpected, that make already ambiguous characters, an even darker shade of grey.

The fantasy element is ramped up more this time round (ghosts, that’s all I’m saying), but it doesn’t detract from the science fiction but adds to it in the same way brown sauce makes a bacon sandwich complete. What Adam has done is taken both genre’s and moulded them into a hybrid that gives you something that may not be new, but is different enough to stand out from the rest, it all goes towards making the story dark and moody with some flashes of humour and plenty of action. There is a lot to like about Adam’s style, he is obviously a fan of classic sci-fi and fantasy stories, and here he’s melded them onto a hardboiled Mike Hammer style crime story.

Adam Christopher has grown as a writer and the growth shines through here, his prose has become stronger, his characters more real; his ideas, settings and themes bright and full of depth. There were times during Empire State where for me the pace became bogged down; like we were treading water waiting to be rescued. I suppose it was expected for a first novel, the writer still finding his way around a story, still trying to find his voice and that of his characters. Adam has learned his trade since; he’s grown to a stylish and exciting writer, with ideas that are full of adventure and mystery.

between two thornsTitle: Between Two Thorns

Author: Emma Newman

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

RRP: Print £8.99 – Kindle £5.49

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

 The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned the task of finding him, with no-one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer. There is a witness, but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the Arbiter’s enemies can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

 But can she be trusted, she a daughter of one of the Great Families of Aquae Sulis, a family allied to one of the most powerful Fae Lords. And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

This is a beautifully crafted story, the characters fit, the settings fit; everything fits. Reading it you’d expect it to be the author’s 4th or 5th book, but this is Emma Newman’s debut novel; and it doesn’t show. Emma’s been very ambitious leading up to the release of this book, she embarked on a project of releasing a short story a week for a year, all set somewhere within the Split Worlds. I signed up and received an email every week and really enjoyed them all. It was a taste of what was to come, but upon starting this book I realised she’d saved the best for these pages.

Long ago there was a war between the Fae and sorcerers, the sorcerers won and the Split Worlds were created. The normal world (our world called Mundanus and humans are referred to as Mundanes) is devoid of magic and is off limits to the Fae. The Fae are trapped in Exilium, a prison from which there is no escape. Between the two, the Nether – neither here nor there – a world locked in time, its people living a strict caste system, a world where the puppets of the Fae live and plot and scheme. Great Families; all allied to one Fae Lord or another, all vying for power. But much like the Fae they too are trapped in their own prison. Making sure the Fae and Great Families behave – and do not interfere in Mundane life – are the Arbiters, soulless guardians immune to Fae magic, led by a sorcerer who has the power to force the Fae and their puppets to do as they are bid.

This is the Split Worlds, each world unlike the other. It’s a nice twist that Exilium – the Fae prison – is seen as a beautiful world, full of colour, dance, music. Whereas the Nether is dull monochrome, a silver sky, no stars, no sun, no day, no night; its people ageless and trapped. Emma manages to bring each of these worlds vividly to life, no detail is left unclear, the worlds themselves characters as well.

Emma’s work over the previous year with her weekly short stories means she is freed up here to get straight into the story. That being said you can read this without having prior knowledge of what came before; there is ample world building so you know what is what, and who is who. Several strands are started in the opening chapters that run the length of the book, and interestingly not all the strands are tied off in the closing chapters. There are a couple of late reveals that leave the book on a sort of cliff hanger. This bodes well for the future of the Split Worlds.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book; I’ve recently got into stories about Fae and Fae magic. This adds a nice twist to that mythology and it’s obvious from the off that Emma knows and loves what she is writing about.

the alchemist of soulsTitle: The Alchemist of Souls

Author: Anne Lyle

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

RRP: Print £8.99 – Kindle £4.38

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back with them a name out of half forgotten Viking legend – Skayling’s – and following in those explorers wake came red sailed ships, native American goods, and a Skrayling ambassador to Queen Elizebeth I court.

 Mal Catlyn, a down on his luck sword for hire, is seconded to the Skrayling’s guard as the Ambassador’s personal bodyguard – at his behest – but assassinations are the least of Mal’s worries. What he learns about the Skrayling’s, their unholy powers, could cost England her new ally; and Mal his soul.

If you like your historical fiction with a twist then this is for you. Anne Lyle has obviously taken a lot of time to learn about the period she is writing in, the muddied streets of Elizabethan London jump from the page, full of colourful characters, sinister plots and rip roaring adventure. On top of this she has layered an alternative history where Queen Elizabeth I married and has children, as if that wasn’t enough to create another timeline she has added the Skrayling’s – creatures from legend – to add to the political melting pot that was Europe in the late 1500s.

The plots and schemes that were famously around during that time are still there, numerous characters seem to be working to their own agenda, whilst proclaiming to be working for the Crown. The mystery at the core of the story though has nothing to do with the plots and machinations of high ranking peers. It’s a story of lost love, murder and possession.

Mal Catlyn serves well as the main character, he hides secrets of his own, carries a burden that could see him accused a traitor and hanged. He is ably assisted by Ned and Corby – a young gay man and a girl pretending to be a boy, both of whom work in the theatre – both of whom are well equipped to deal with the dangers of living in London at that time, and both of whom on more than one occasion save the day and possibly Mal’s life.

The story rattles along at a healthy pace, there is little time to catch your breath as Mal and his friends go from working for the Crown, to fugitives, to heroes. The action is handled well and the suspense kept bubbling nicely to keep you engaged. If I have any qualms it’s that everyone, no matter their standing in society, seems to have easy access in and out of several important castles – including the Tower of London. I’m unsure what the level of security was in the late 1500s, but I imagine it to have been tighter than this.

Title: Mockingbird

Author: Chuck Wendig

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

RRP: £7.99 (Hardback) – £5.49 (Kindle)

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

 The whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going on just isn’t working. Living on Long Beach the whole year long. Home is a double wide trailer. She has a full time job. And her and Louis, Louis who spends most of the time on the road, well they’re relationship is subject to the same old piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.

 Life isn’t going well, she’s struggling with it and trying to keep her psychic ability in check. But that feels wrong, like she’s keeping a tornado trapped in a bottle.

 Then comes one bad day that turns everything on its head.

Miriam tried to do the right thing and it’s turned round and bit her in the butt. Events from the first book – Blackbirds – still haunt her, not only the eye Louis lost, but the scars she earned saving him, and the promise she tried to keep. But one inadvertent touch and the house of cards comes tumbling down, futures are revealed, death is abroad and Miriam is drawn into the world of a serial killing family with a penchant for young girls.

It’s good that this second book draws back the curtains on Miriam’s world more. There is more of the powers that surround her and seem intent of guiding or stopping her. It’s nice that we learn there is another – and possibly others – like her with varying degrees of sight. But moreover it’s good that Chuck Wendig chose not to take the easy route and settle Miriam into a Buffyesque role of champion of light and all round equalizer.

She has flashes of that character, she chooses to do the right thing and see her visions through to the end. But she chooses to do it her way, the Miriam Black way, and that way takes her through pain and heartache and lavish helpings of sticking-it-to-the-man.

It’s been said that male authors cannot write decent female characters. Wrong. Chuck Wendig has not only created a believable, three dimensional character in Miriam he’s also put her in a world populated with similar characters that jump off the page and make a grab for your throat.

If there is a downside to this second outing, it’s Louis. He fitted into the frame of the first book, but for me with its resolution his story was told. Here it’s like he’s been kept around just so Miriam has an in to the main setting of the story. Sure he has other stuff to do, saving Miriam for instance, but keeping him around just for that didn’t fit into the whole Miriam Black world view for me.

Title: Seven Wonders

Author: Adam Christopher

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

Price: £7.99 (paperback) –  £5.49 (Kindle)

 

 

 

 

Tony Prosdocimi lives in the Shining City that is San Ventura California – a city in fear, a fear of the worlds only remaining supervillain The Cowl. Tony’s a minimum wage drone working for a retail outlet, bored with life and with little to look forward to. Then he awakes one morning with superpowers, and decides to take down The Cowl. However he finds the resident superhero team, the Seven Wonders, are not too happy at his intervention or as grateful as he’d thought they’d be.

Adam Christopher showed his love of all things noir with his debut book Empire State, now he’s turned his attention to comics and the tale of superheroes and villains. Set in the imaginary city of San Ventura on the golden coast of California the story revolves around the resident super team and their attempts – or not – to bring down the worlds only remaining supervillain, The Cowl. In this world all other superheroes are either retired, media celebrities or dead, and one of the questions raised is if there are no more villains, do we really need heroes?

Reading like a comic book without the pictures the book hits the ground running with a blistering opening that doesn’t save on the violence. This is no childrens superhero story, there is death, there is destruction, and from early on you are left wondering who the real heroes are. Adam has used the format that is popular with fantasy fiction at the moment of painting his primary characters a nice shade of grey. There are a lot of agendas, some hidden, some obvious; but you need to read right to the end to get to the bottom of what is really going on in San Ventura.

Where Empire State was a fairly contained story – set as it was in a small bubble of reality – Seven Wonders has a broader scope, world encompassing and beyond scope at that. There are nods to famous heroes, trimmed down phrases, actions, powers, that are overly familiar but have a distinctive bent so as they are new and fresh. Also you are getting more than just the story of Tony Prosdocimi and his quest to rid the city of The Cowl, that is resolved fairly early on, but as one story ends so another starts, building upon the bones of the first. All linked together to make an overall arc with an endgame that rivals the New York smackdown in The Avengers film.

Adam’s writing has improved from Empire State, it seems less hesitant, less repetitive. The characters are colourful and real, with histories that are briefly touched upon. If I was to have any criticism’s it would be the main “threat” was a little too borglike. What did I like the most? The opening, every superhero story should start with a Meanwhile back at…, and the rollcall of superheroes near the end – for me – possibly hints at future stories set in the same world.

As a second book Seven Wonders ticks all the right boxes, it is a thrilling rollercoaster ride where the reader feels the wind in their hair, and their cape flapping behind them.

 

Empire State

By Adam Christopher

Published by Angry Robot

RRP £7.99 in Paperback (£4.49 on Kindle)

Available Now

It was the last great science hero fight, one-time partners the Skyguard against the Science Pirate, but the fight released energies that ripped a hole in reality, giving birth to the Empire State. Linked by the fissure in reality the two worlds co-existed, the smaller Empire State a mirror of prohibition New York but in a perpetual state of war with an unknown and unseen Enemy. But the link between worlds is weak, and forces from both sides of the divide are working toward severing the link risking the existence of both worlds.

A jaded Private Eye takes on a simple missing persons case, and ends up a central figure in the battle to save reality. Robots, airships, shady organisations and high adventure, Rad Bradley must face them all, but worse than that it’s prohibition and he really needs a drink.

I forgot the golden rule of alternative reality stories whilst reading Empire State, everyone has a double. Schoolboy error I know, and boy did I feel stupid once the fact dawned on me roughly halfway into the book.

Empire State is Adam Christopher’s first book for Angry Robot. He is obviously a fan of the prohibition era and has researched well. The character’s are well visualised and obviously products of the time they are set in. Combining noire theme’s with fantasy and weird science, Adam has managed to create a vivid and vibrant tale that twists and turns through the grim fog shrouded streets of the Empire State.

All along you are kept guessing as most of the main characters switch sides, cross and double cross and baffle the central figure, Private Investigator Rad Bradley. But like Same Spade or Mike Hammer before him he doggedly forges ahead, his eye’s always on the case.

The opening chapters get the reader into the world of the Empire State, the place, the characters, Wartime. Sometimes slow going it is addictive and once you get into the second half of the book, you begin to realise why Adam took his time introducing you to everyone. You need to keep your wits about you as the pace quickens and you have to keep track of the what, where and why things are progressing. Refreshingly, for a modern writer, Adam doesn’t need excessive use of F and C bombs. There is some swearing, but it is there for a reason and fits in with the characters and said because – in a similar situation – you’d say it then as well.

As a first novel this is a fresh if twisted look at a classic era that is sure to please any fan of the weird and fantastic.