Published in Issue 22 of Visionary Tongue, Summer 2007.


I have long been an admirer of Justina Robson’s writing, since I first read her stories in Visionary Tongue. This is book one in the Quantum Gravity series, book two, Selling Out, due for publication in May this year. I think I recall her saying on a panel at last year’s Eastercon that she wore a tiara while writing this series as a way of getting into the right spirit, and if this is what she really said, then I wouldn’t be surprised… if you know some of her previous novels, such as Natural History and Living Next-door to the God of Love, you’ll know her for her deft turn of phrase, her fantastic world-building skills and the fairy-tale quality of her writing. With this series, she takes the idea of a modern fairy-tale another few bounds forward in what her website terms as a “shameless romp”.

After the Quantum Bomb of 2015, earth has multiple realms and humans have to tolerate the likes of elves, fairies and demons. No one really gets on, but they all know what they are supposed to be apart from cyber-girl Lila Black, now part machine and AI, and Zal, the elf making a good go at being a rock star, which is very un-elflike. The story heats up when the reluctant Lila is assigned as Zal’s bodyguard and feelings are affected by magic. Then there is the small matter of Zal not wanting to be protected despite unknown persons wishing him dead.

The result is light, fast-paced and as indulgent as a Lush bath bomb. Very enjoyable.

Gollancz ISBN: 978-0575079076

Review by Donna Scott