Tender Is the Flesh, by Agustina Bazterrica, Pushkin Press, RRP£12.99, 224 pages
Vegetarians may rejoice, and carnivores may quail, at Argentinian novelist Bazterrica’s unfussily rendered dystopian vision of a near-future world in which cannibalism is normalised and commodified. The image of humans undergoing the callous treatment usually reserved for cattle lingers long afterwards.
Notes From Small Planets, by Nate Crowley, Harper Voyager, RRP£12.99, 256 pages
This is a kind of Lonely Planet guide to the various sub-genres of SF and fantasy, written as though the work of a crass, blundering hack journalist. It’s splendidly satirical and hilariously funny, provided you don’t mind literary sacred cows being slaughtered with gleeful, merciless abandon.
England’s Screaming, by Sean Hogan, PS Publishing, RRP£25.00, 306 pages
Hogan brilliantly unites dozens of British horror movies from the past 50 years under a single narrative, as if each was always intended to form part of a sprawling mosaic storyline. His novel also shows how the nation found a cinematic valve for venting its troubled, grubby postwar id.
Hold Up the Sky, by Cixin Liu, Head of Zeus, RRP£18.99, 400 pages
The esteemed Chinese author’s second short-story collection grounds high-flying SF speculation in mundane settings and warmly parochial characters. The ideas are big (time travel, first contact with aliens, the end of the universe) but the focus is always on the human element.
Night Train, by David Quantick, Titan, RRP£8.99, 400 pages
Set aboard a train hurtling through a nightmarish war-torn landscape, this surreal parable — from a writer best known for his work on the TV series Veep — revels in strangeness and snarky dialogue. As a group of passengers explores their environment carriage by carriage, ever-more grotesque horrors are revealed.
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