Posts Tagged ‘Adam Roberts’

The Real Town Murders by Adam Roberts

September 6, 2017 - 6:26 pm No Comments

The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

Published by Gollancz on 24th August 2017

230 pages

Reviewed by Chris Stocks

Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, where most people spend all their time in a fully immersive successor to the internet, known as Shine. However, Alma’s partner has been infected with a genetically-engineered lipid phage, which renders her bed-bound. Alma must treat her within a five-minute window every four hours or she will die. Consequently, Alma is one of the few people still living wholly in the real world.

Alma is assigned to a murder investigation at an automated car factory. A body has been found in the boot of a newly assembled car – though the CCTV footage shows there was no body present at any point in the assembly process.

She is then warned off the case by a government agent, who is subsequently killed. Now a suspect, Alma must go on the run, evade arrest, avoid the machinations of political conspirators and solve the impossible-seeming murder – as well as return home every four hours to treat her partner! This latter requirement adds an extra layer of dramatic tension to what might otherwise have turned into an extended series of chase sequences.

The near-future setting is convincing. The streets are almost deserted, as most people live in the Shine. Most pedestrians are somnambulant figures dressed in Mesh suits that take their bodies for walks to avoid muscular atrophy, whilst their minds are in the Shine – a high-tech version of The Wrong Trousers! AIs and nanotechnology are used to keep the country ticking over, but the overall impression is of decay. Indeed, the underlying political conspiracy involves different government factions who either want everyone to live permanently in the Shine or to tempt Shine users back to the real world.

This is an exciting, fast-paced and often darkly comic thriller, with all the twists and turns of an Alfred Hitchcock film, albeit in a futuristic setting. Indeed, there are deliberate nods to Hitchcock throughout. Some chapter titles allude to Hitchcock films – “Dial ‘C’ for Caring”, “Strangers on the Terrain”, for example. There are also more overt references. One passage features an attack by a swarm of small drones that could have come straight out of The Birds. Another is a tense chase scene set amongst the nanobot-sculpted faces of famous Britons (William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill etc.) that now adorn the White Cliffs of Dover – an allusion to the Mount Rushmore scene in North by North-West. The great director himself even makes a small cameo – as is only right and proper!

There are also numerous references to other works. Alma at one point gets into an amusing argument with the low-grade AI running her front door about whether it should admit her or not. This reminded me of a very similar scene from the Philip K. Dick novel, Ubik. I also spotted passing references to Catch 22, The Princess Bride and The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy amongst others – and I’m sure I missed many more.

In summary, I really enjoyed Adam Robert’s latest novel and can thoroughly recommend it. It is an intriguing thriller as well as referencing enough Hitchcock films and SF classics to satisfy the discerning fan of both genres.

Adam Roberts Aquisition

May 28, 2017 - 1:16 pm No Comments

Adam Roberts is taking over the SF world – again.

Bringing you more news on his recent adventures is @Gollancz guru Marcus Gipps (@marcusgipps)

Hitchcock-inspired Adam Roberts (@arrroberts) novel and sequel to Gollancz

Gollancz is delighted to announce the acquisition of World rights to The Real-Town Murders and an untitled sequel from award-winning author Adam Roberts.

 

Gollancz Commissioning Editor, Marcus Gipps, bought the rights directly from Professor Roberts. The first book, which was inspired by a scene Alfred Hitchcock wanted to film for NORTH BY NORTHWEST but couldn’t manage, is a near-future conspiracy thriller told with Adam’s trademark wit and intelligence.

Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, a country desperately trying to tempt people away from the delights of Shine, the immersive successor to the internet. But most people are happy to spend their lives plugged in, and the country is decaying.

Alma’s partner is ill, and has to be treated without fail every 4 hours, a task that only Alma can do. If she misses the 5 minute window her lover will die. She is one of the few not to access the Shine. So when Alma is called to an automated car factory to be shown an impossible death and finds herself caught up in a political coup, she knows that getting too deep may leave her unable to get home.

What follows is a fast-paced Hitchcockian thriller as Alma evades arrest, digs into the conspiracy, and tries to work out how on earth a dead body appeared in the boot of a freshly-made car in a fully-automated factory.

Adam Roberts said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be publishing again with Gollancz: not only the best SF list in Britain, the best in the world. In this novel I’ve tried to play fair with an impossible murder and a couple of near-future science fiction technologies, but I wrote the whole book under the tutelary spirit of Alfred Hitchcock, and what I came to realise, as I was going along, is that he’s a much trickier customer than many people realise. I hope the SF puzzle and its working-out plays fair, for all that. I think it’s my most ingenious so far.’

Marcus Gipps said: ‘A new Adam Roberts project is always a delight, and this is a wonderful introduction to his work. We can’t wait for people to read this blend of Hitchcock and SF.’

The Real Town Murders | Adam Roberts | 24/08/207
HB £16.99 | Export TPB £13.99 | eBook

Adam Roberts is commonly described as one of the UK’s most important writers of SF, and has won or been shortlisted for all of the major awards. He is the author of numerous novels and literary parodies. He is Professor of 19th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, London University and has written a number of critical works on both SF and 19th Century poetry.

Gollancz is the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK. Founded in 1927 and with a continuous SF publishing programme dating back to 1961, the imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is home to a galaxy of award-winning and bestselling authors. Through our long-running SF and Fantasy Masterworks programme, and major digital initiative the SF Gateway, Gollancz has one of the largest ranges of SF and Fantasy of any publisher in the world.