At the start of Faller, the new SF novel by Will McIntosh, a man regains consciousness lying on a city street. He doesn’t remember his name, the name of the city, or how he got there. In fact, his mind is almost completely blank, just like all the other people who are waking up in complete confusion around him. What’s even stranger, the world appears to end a few city blocks from where the man woke up. Rather than more streets and buildings, there’s just a chasm looking out over empty sky, as if this fragment of a city was torn from a larger whole and then tossed into the air. This feels odd to the man, somehow, even though he has no recollection of what a city is supposed to look like.
The man finds three objects in his pockets: a toy soldier with a plastic parachute, a mysterious map drawn in blood (and since his finger is cut, he assumes he drew the map with his own blood, suggesting it must be important), and a photograph of himself with a woman he doesn’t recognize. Since clues are the only thing he has, and he doesn’t recall his name, he decides to go by the name Clue.
Eventually, inspired by the toy soldier in his pocket, Clue decides to construct a parachute. That’s how he discovers that the floating city fragment on which he regained consciousness isn’t the only one. Taking the new name Faller, he embarks on a quest to find the mysterious woman on the photograph…
In The Sudden Appearance of Hope, main character Hope Arden suffers from an unusual condition: no one can remember her. She meets people, chats with them, but they invariably forget everything about her when she leaves their range of vision for more than a minute or two. Even when she’s growing up, Hope’s parents are constantly surprised at the unfamiliar girl who shows up at the dinner table because every time she leaves the room, it’s as if they are meeting her for the first time.
Unsurprisingly, Hope is unable to lead anything resembling a normal life, but her unusual affliction does make her uniquely suited to the life of a high-stakes thief. While working on a big jewelry heist, she meets the creators of a new social app called Perfection, which slowly molds people to match unrealistic ideals of beauty and success.
Okay folks, this is too good a deal to pass up: the Kindle version of Will McIntosh’s debut novel Soft Apocalypse is currently on sale for less than a dollar. I consider McIntosh to be one of the finest writers working in the genre today, with a remarkable string of winners including Love Minus Eighty, Defenders, and his most recent release, the YA novel Burning Midnight.
Soft Apocalypse is a harrowing story of survival in a world that’s scarily (and increasingly) plausible. You should read it. Here’s my review.
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For today’s guest post, I asked Lesley Conner, the managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, to pick a few stories from the new anthology Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 (out today!) and talk about how they ended up in Apex and how they changed throughout the editing process.
Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.
For today’s guest post, I’m very proud to welcome Robert Jackson Bennett, one of my favorite authors working in the field today.
Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. He lives in Austin with his wife and son. He can be found on Twitter at @robertjbennett.
The author’s current series, The Divine Cities, started with City of Stairs and continues with City of Blades, which will be released in the US on January 26th. Because I am turning into a horrible slacker in my old age, I haven’t reviewed either of these yet, so I’ll just say this: they’re two out of only six new novels I’ve given a perfect five star rating in the past three years, out of the several hundred I’ve read.
In the following guest post, Robert Jackson Bennett talks about one of the most fascinating aspects of these novels: the way they explore the nature of divinity, religion, and power.