Michael Cobley: Seeds of Earth There’s nothing like a stonking great slab of space opera to get one back into the fun of reading after a dry spell, and as luck would have it Mrs Gee found this — and its two sequelae, because it’s a trilogy, of course it is — in a local charity shop. When a lost colony of the human race is rediscovered on a remote planet, what was once a bolt-hole in the back of beyond turns out to be in the disputed border regions between mutually hostile alien powers. Not only do the plucky colonists have to learn to play politics with hostile civilisations much more powerful than their own, they must contend with the discovery, on their planet, of an artefact of apocalyptic power left over from an age when warfare was existentially, pan-galactically, super-eschatologically ferocious. The aliens come out of Star Wars — the humans from any Peter F. Hamilton novel — the result is a blisteringly good read.
A. M. Homes: Days of Awe If James Thurber had been born in the late twentieth century rather than the late nineteenth, and had been female (also Jewish) he might have turned out something like A. M. Homes, whose dissections of modern American life in this warm collection of short stories have the same satirical, surreal, occasionally fantastical and always affectionate tone, but which are always as sharp as a tack. I found it on Mrs Gee’s nightstand. It had been recommended by a friend. Reader, I devoured it.
Renee Knight: Disclaimer Catherine is an award-winning documentary film-maker at the top of her game. Relaxing at the end of a day, she picks up a thriller that has found its way to her bedside table. To her horror she finds that the main character is — herself. Thus starts a nail-biter full of more twists and turns than an explosion in a pretzel factory. One critic compared it with Gone Girl, and I can see the similarity, except that whereas Gone Girl swerves halfway through with a savage plot twist that feels like being hit over the head with a blunt instrument (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean), Disclaimer toys with you unmercifully before going in for the kill with a shocking denouement.