Aug 062014

In space, no one can hear you lose your mind.

The first of Smythe’s Anomaly Quartet, this brief book completes its story in the first quarter, then invites you to follow it back around to find out what really happened, possibly. It’s a difficult structure to do well, and Smythe handles it.

This is the story of a group of intrepid adventurers who will go further into space than any human ever has and return. A carefully selected group of people begin their journey and – avoiding spoilers – things don’t tend to go as they’d expect.

Claustrophobic. Compelling. Intelligent. Get it.

Get it here (UK) or here (worldwide)

Jul 312014

What does it mean to be a good man, and is that something you can predict? This is the question that Smythe asks through this… I don’t know what you call it. Anti-allegory?

To read this is to get caught up in a story that fits comfortably inside a litfic longlist: there’s a man, with a loving wife and children, not without problems. He’s a normal man, a Senator, a good man.

Something starts to change. The tone becomes darker. This is subversive genre fiction working its way into your heard and mind and a damn fine pile of words.

Get it here (UK) or here (worldwide)

Dec 162013

James Smythe writes deep, complex novels which are really rather good. The Testimony – which keeps being cheap or free on Kindle, so watch for it – gives us the perspectives of twenty-eight people when a voice starts to speak, like radio directly into most people’s brains. This affects the world on very macro and very micro scales. People die. People change. They believe more in God, or less. Smythe weaves these voices into a complex, layered tapestry to ask what it means to be human. It’s a silent book that sticks with you and resonated for days, or even weeks afterwards.   Get it here (UK) or here (US)

Sep 302013

The Machine is a story of unconditional love and the desperation that that engenders. The eponymous Machine was created to selectively edit memories in order to treat dementia and PTSD, and it seems like it worked, until it went terribly wrong. Now Beth wants her husband back. It’s short, by modern standards, and not a whole lot happens over the first three quarters of its length – and, in fact, the reader pretty much knows the plot of that chunk of the novel within a dozen pages. It grips the reader, though, this story of recklessness in the face of despair.


Get it here (UK) or here (US)