Andrew McKie

Children go missing: the latest crime fiction reviewed

Hot on the heels of The Stranger, the Netflix series based on his novel but transplanted to the UK, Harlan Coben returns with his 32nd book. Some of us have been getting our regular dose ever since he introduced his sports agent sleuth Myron Bolitar in the mid-1990s, and The Boy from the Woods (Century,

Our appetite for ‘folk horror’ appears to be insatiable

This eerie, shortish book apparently had an earlier outing this year, when it purported to be a reissue of a 1972 ‘folk horror’ novel by Jonathan Buckley. Now John Murray reveal it as the third novel by Andrew Michael Hurley, whose gothic debut, The Loney, received widespread plaudits. Folk horror, a term popularised by the

Going bats

When it was recently announced that Robert Pattinson, who played the vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight films, had secured the role of Batman, a Twitter user wrote: ‘Worst vampire ever. Took him 11 years to turn into a bat.’ This is  probably Twitter’s second greatest bat joke, beaten only by @LRBbookshop’s ‘I reckon Nagel

City of dreadful dusk

Fantastic fiction loves contrasts made explicit: Eloi and Morlocks, orcs and elves, and above all humans battling vampires, Martians or robots. Small wonder that Claude Lévi-Strauss specifically invoked science fiction for his theory of ‘binary opposition’. Sometimes these tensions are in the mise-en-scene — not just Earth vs. outer space, but settings — Lilliput and

Fragments of the future

Science fiction is not the first thing one thinks of in connection with the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, though the Nobel Prize for Literature has in fact been awarded for science fiction poetry — Harry Martinson’s Aniara was an epic about a spaceship. Then again, many English speakers probably don’t primarily associate Milosz with poetry

Time is of the essence | 20 October 2016

Christopher Priest, now 73, has been quietly turning out oddly mesmerising fiction for nearly half a century but, like the protagonists of his 2005 novel The Glamour, somehow has the knack of never quite being noticed. It is true that he has devoted admirers; he has won awards; he was on Granta’s original list of

Homage to the Sage of Shepperton

L’Arénas, between Côte d’Azur airport and a dual carriageway patrolled by prostitutes, is a banal stretch of concrete, steel and glass offices, malls and hotels that seems always to be deserted. A few weeks ago, I watched an 18-month-old Korean boy playing on an iPad by a hotel pool there. ‘Ballardian’ was le mot juste.

S is for Speculative

Margaret Atwood has written 20 novels, of which three (The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood) are science fiction. Indeed, the first— and far the best of them — won the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke award, Britain’s chief prize for books in the genre. She has, however, long resisted any

A right song and dance

The first Broadway musical that I saw, a quarter of a century ago, actually on Broadway, wasn’t, of course, actually on Broadway; it was on West 44th Street. The first Broadway musical that I saw, a quarter of a century ago, actually on Broadway, wasn’t, of course, actually on Broadway; it was on West 44th

Almost everything came up roses

There’s a number in Merrily We Roll Along called ‘Opening Doors’, in which two young songwriters audition for a producer who interrupts: ‘That’s great! That’s swell!/ The other stuff as well!/ It isn’t every day I hear a score this strong,/ But fellas, if I may,/ There’s only one thing wrong:/ There’s not a tune

Architect of cool

More than quarter of a century later, 1984 remains firmly fixed in the future, fiction having provided a more vivid view than our memories of the year which actually happened. Even so, a couple of things from the real, boring 1984 were memorable: Apple introduced the Macintosh personal computer (with a celebrated advertisement based on

Strictness and susceptibility

William Trevor’s collected short stories were published in 1992 and brought together seven collections. William Trevor’s collected short stories were published in 1992 and brought together seven collections. But since reaching the standard age for retirement, Trevor has produced four further volumes, and now Penguin has brought out a handsome new edition, in two slipcased

Life of a cave dweller

All literature, but especially literature of the weird and the fantastic, is a cave where both readers and writers hide from life. (Which is exactly why so many parents and teachers, spotting a teenager with a collection of stories by Lovecraft, Bloch or Clark Ashton Smith, are apt to cry, ‘Why are you reading that

Unseeing is believing

The City & The City, by China Miéville China Miéville’s second book, Perdido Street Station, made his name by reimagining fantasy as thoroughly as had M. John Harrison’s Viriconium or Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. He followed it with two more novels set in the same world, and a children’s fantasy (Un Lun Dun) that was hailed

The wide blue yonder

Toby Litt begins the titles of his books with consecutive letters of the alphabet and takes delight in shifting style and genre. He has now reached J, and science fiction. There has been a flurry recently of ‘literary’ writers trying their hands at SF. For the most part, the complaint raised against these efforts is