New Scientist Column: Maggie Shen King, M.T. Anderson, and Dave Hutchinson

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.


Yusuf Smith said…
Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Interested in your response.
As I said on twitter, The Buried Giant is the first book I've read in a long time that I genuinely disliked, and I wasn't crazy about Never Let Me Go either, so that is not a decision I can get behind. That said, I'm not that invested in the literature Nobel - I consider it more of a scandal that, for example, The Underground Railroad was left off the Booker shortlist.

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