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On My Radar: THE SORROW PROPER by Lindsey Drager / THE MECHANICAL by Ian Tregillis / THE MEMORY PAINTER by Gwendolyn Womack

Here are some books that I’m looking forward to reading…


 
The Sorrow Proper by Lindsey Drager
(Dzanc Books | April 14, 2015 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)
 

SYNOPSIS:

The Sorrow Proper is a novel-length investigation of the anxiety that accompanies change. A group of aging librarians must decide whether to fight or flee from the end of print and the rise of electronic publications, while the parents of the young girl who died in front of the library struggle with their role in her loss. Anchored by the transposed stories of a photographer and his deaf mathematician lover each mourning the other’s death, The Sorrow Proper attempts to illustrate how humans of all relations—lovers, parents, colleagues—cope with and challenge social “progress,” a mechanism that requires we ignore, and ultimately forget, the residual in order to make room for the new, to tell a story that resists “The End.”

This debut novel explores the hypothetical end of the public library system and a young theory in the hard sciences called Many Worlds, a branch of quantum mechanics that strives to prove mathematically that our lives do not follow a singular, linear path.

WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR:
The tail end of the book description perhaps belies a more science fictional underpinning to the story than you might otherwise think. But even taken at face value, it describes a widely accepted definition of science fiction being about change.


 
The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis
(Orbit (March 10 | 2015 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)
 

SYNOPSIS:

The Clakker: a mechanical man, endowed with great strength and boundless stamina — but beholden to the wishes of its human masters.

Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the 17th Century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn’t long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world’s sole superpower.

Three centuries later, it still is. Only the French still fiercely defend their belief in universal human rights for all men — flesh and brass alike. After decades of warfare, the Dutch and French have reached a tenuous cease-fire in a conflict that has ravaged North America.

But one audacious Clakker, Jax, can no longer bear the bonds of his slavery. He will make a bid for freedom, and the consequences of his escape will shake the very foundations of the Brasswork Throne.

WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR:
I’m a sucker for a good robot story. I also hear great things about Ian Tregillis, whose Milkweed Triptych generated buzz that put it on my reading pile. The fact that this is bilkled as part of a new series called The Alchemy Wars only ups the anticipation.


 
The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack
(Picador | April 28, 2015 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)
 

SYNOPSIS:

Two lovers who have traveled across time. A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research. A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to his success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordinary new skills…like the ability to speak obscure languages and an inexplicable genius for chess. All his life, he has wondered if his dreams are recollections, if he is re-experiencing other people’s lives.

Linz Jacobs is a brilliant neurogeneticist, absorbed in decoding the genes that help the brain make memories, until she is confronted with an exact rendering of a recurring nightmare at one of Bryan’s shows. She tracks down the elusive artist, and their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet: visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago.

As Bryan becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the scientists’ deaths, his dreams begin to reveal what happened at the lab, as well as a deeper mystery that may lead all the way to ancient Egypt. Together, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

A taut thriller and a timeless love story spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history, The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack is a riveting debut novel unlike any you’ve ever read.

WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR:
This one sounds like science fiction that’s more accessible than most things folks call sciece fiction — which is fine by me either way — but the synopsis sounds like something that promises levels of enjoyment not just in the plot, but also in the layered storytelling.

About John DeNardo (13014 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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