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Future PerfectIn the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I've met both authors socially, and indeed we have published something by one of them in Chunga. Both men are long-time members of science fiction fandom, and while Evans has published other novels under his own byline and Kettle has collaborated on four novels with John Brosnan, Kettle is perhaps best known, at least in the circles I run in, as a founding member of British Ratfandom in the '70s and as a publisher of such influential fanzines as Fouler and True Rat. I've met them at science fiction conventions, including most recently at the Worldcon in London, where I bought this novel and had them sign it. All this by way of also establishing that they are well qualified to write a novel that takes place in and around fandom and reaches its climax at a Worldcon. In short, I think a lot of SF fans would find this novel very entertaining and fannish as hell, even though it's written from the perspective of a protagonist who isn't a fan.

Protagonist Nick Randall is in fact a London-based independent movie producer who is looking for a science fiction story to adapt in the hopes of making a quick buck. When he's pointed in the direction of an obscure writer named Leo Parrish who published a number of stories in genre magazines in the '50s before being murdered, he discovers an odd assortment of interested factions who appear to be trying to suppress Parrish's fiction for initially mysterious reasons. Meanwhile, his business partner is investigating a black site in Britain that may or may not be a test lab for germ warfare aimed at the rogue state of Khanistan, which is sparring with the USA and its right wing Dominionist Christian Secretary of Defense. When a Scientology-like cult called the Ascendants also gets involved, paranoid conspiracy theories are the only thing that seem to make sense. Needless to say, Nick Randall finds himself neck deep in trouble, and that's before he gets shanghaied onto a panel at the World Science Fiction Convention.

This is a potboiler thriller that gets its hooks in right away and doesn't let go. I don't actually read enough of this kind of thing to know how it compares to other examples, but the authors promised me a page turner and that's what I got. There's a very large cast of well-drawn characters, lots of plot complications and recomplications, plenty of mystery and even a dose of action and tension. It works as a great big puzzle that you can get lost in, and if you're familiar with the world of fandom, you'll find plenty of loving detail and characters you'll feel you know personally. This should hold exotic interest even to non-fans, and there's also plenty of material about film-making, running a small company, religious cults, geopolitical intrigue, and personal relationships (with the sex cheekily kept off stage) for all to enjoy. There's a nice sense of humor holding it all together. Good, clean fun for the whole nuclear family.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2014 04:15 am (UTC)

I was going to wait until I'm across the Pond next spring to pick this up. Your review has me debating between the print and Kindle version for purchase this week. Good on you on posting your review on Amazon, too.
Aug. 27th, 2014 02:45 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, Roy has said elsewhere that they get a slightly higher royalty on the Kindle edition than on the paper book. On the other hand, you can't have the Kindle edition autographed. On the third hand, it's a bloody big book. When I complained about it at Loncon, they offered to tear some pages out.
Aug. 28th, 2014 08:39 am (UTC)
Thanks for answering the very questions that were on my mind! Kindle version it is.
Aug. 29th, 2014 01:06 pm (UTC)
Signing Kindle copies
We're perfectly happy signing Kindle copies, Geri, if you don't mind the scratches on the screen. Roy
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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