SF Reviews background image SF Reviews logo image
Contact SF Reviews   |   Get the Newsletter 

Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

           
     
British Summertime

Copyright 2003 by Paul Cornell

In Association with Amazon.com In Association with Amazon.co.uk
SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (3/5)

I first read this in 2010 and most recently on the 28th April 2018

{?twitch?}

Alison is gifted. She can read between the lines of reality and see the patterns that others cannot see. She can find a fish'n'chip shop because she somehow knows where a fish'n'chip shop needs to be. She can calculate the long-shot odds in the betting ship where she works better than anyone. She just knows the odds. But now things are going bad. The meanings that she alone sees in everything around her are saying that the end of the world is imminent.

Then something happens to her best friend Fran, and it's so awful.

And then it happens to Alison too.

Douglas Layton and Jocelyn are out in space enjoying a little R&R before returning to combat against the alien Rods. An unexpected hole in space drags them back to an earlier time. To their shock, this past world is horrifyingly and quite literally further from God.

It's no longer the alien Rods who are the enemy. It is the Golden Men, the root of all evil. The Golden Men have immense, insidious and incomprehensible power. To save the world Alison and Douglas must defeat them. But it simply isn't possible for our two heroes to do it themselves.

Astonishing. A roller coaster ride through space and time. Felt a little dubious about it at the beginning. I was concerned it was descending from the pure realm of SF down to the supernatural mud. But, boy, was I wrong.

Cornell brilliantly pulls the supernatural, indeed religious, strands into the weave of this super science fiction plot. It scarily foretells the future: disastrous pollution and intelligent digital currency. It points a very precise finger at what is wrong with Britain in 2003 and even more so in 2021 given years of increasing austerity for the poor and increasing wealth for the rich. It grates as characters are tossed into unexpected suffering and you suffer with them. It's gritty, emotional and uplifting.

I had tears in my eyes at the end. As an expatriate Brit, I felt unduly (and guiltily) proud* that Leyton was a Squadron Leader in the RAF, and the fabulous Crimson Dragon was a British ship.

Chocks away!

*but this was before the Brexit insanity gained any public acceptance.

Loaded on the 1st February 2021.
    
Cover of British Summertime
Cover art by blacksheep-uk.com