Feb 272015

The Kitschies‘ first self-published shortlisted book, and a debut to boot. Chambers had put together a fun, silly space opera that’ll keep you up at night reading by the light of your Kindle (if not by a torch under the duvet), and this is how you should read this book: like you’re young again, and getting away with reading it, when you should be reading The Scarlet Letter. Not that it’s poorly written, or whimsical: it grapples with the politics of empire, sexuality, racism (and species-ism), class, and gender – it’s a story of someone trying to choose their own destiny.

Feb 262015

Another dystopia, this time with a woman – seventeen year old Noria – becoming one of the world’s only, if not first, tea masters. Water is the world’s most precious resource; created from desalination plants and completely managed by distant imperial masters in New Qian. Noria is entrusted with a deep secret, one that could save her town and, simultaneously, destroy it and her. The tone of the novel is reminiscent of silver age or new wave SF – refreshing and pleasant to read whilst uncovering the various pieces of the story, the reader always a step or two ahead of Noria.

Feb 262015

A set of devices that gather power from the waves stretches from the coast of India to Djibouti. A woman leaves her old life behind to walk this bridge, illegally, crossing to a new life, searching for something. In parallel, in an earlier life, a young girl escapes death or slavery in West Africa, heading east, towards Addis Ababa, to a new life. This novel shouldn’t work, it would be so easy to get wrong, but it treats its characters with respect, the author approaching it with deep honesty and humility, dealing with sexuality and violence in an ever-changing world.

Feb 252015

The court of Charles I, the crux of time when the Enlightenment was just on the cusp of beginning and modernity would start its relentless march of progress. This book is at once playful, erudite, maddening, insightful, wickedly funny, and absolutely insane. The modern world echoes back across time into the lives of people: boxox blends with viper’s blood, Joy Division mashes up with music at court, Ben Johnson and Van Dyck turn up; as does Jonathan Ross. It’s a stunning, audacious go at a novel, crammed full of art, emotion, life, and a living exorciation of the beauty industry.