My latest column at The New Scientist has a relationship focus: in Maggie Shen King's debut novel An Excess Male, China's one child policy leads to a population of unmarriageable men who are encouraged to enter into polyandrous arrangements. There's a definite whiff of The Handmaid's Tale wafting over this novel (which, along with last year's The Power, leads me to wonder if we're seeing a mini-trend of SF that recalls that classic, thirty years on), but what's most interesting about An Excess Male is that it isn't a dystopia, and remains intriguingly open-minded about the possibility of creating a good family in such an awkward situation.
Somewhat less hopeful about the possibility for romance in a futuristically altered world is M.T. Anderson's Landscape With Invisible Hand, his first foray back into YA fiction since the transcendent Octavian Nothing duology. I describe the story as The Hunger Games meets Black Mirror's "Fifteen Million Merits", which is definitely a compliment.
I was less thrilled by Dave Hutchinson's novella Acadie. Those looking for more Le Carré-esque spy-and-geopolitics shenanigans in the vein of Hutchinson's Fractured Europe books will find something very different. One assumes that this was a deliberate choice on Hutchinson's part, but it pays off very few dividends in this case.