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Adam Roberts is the author of a growing number of science fiction novels, short stories, essays and other writings. This site contains not just his blog, but everything you could ever want to know about everything Adam has ever published. And more...

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This is, official homepage of British science fiction writer Adam Roberts. Please use the links in the menu bar above if you're here to find out more about Adam's published books to-date, or more about Adam himself, or if you want to get in touch with Adam.

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Latest News

What I Did in 2015

By Adam Roberts | December 31, 2015
Categories: Chitchat

Three things, predominantly. Fiction, twice:


Quite taupe, that image, though: isn't it? On the left is my latest collection of short fiction, Saint Rebor (Newcon Press), which contains my two best short stories ('What Did Tessimond Tell You?' and 'Trademark Bugs') along with ten others of varying quality. If you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber you can download this collection for free, it seems; if not it'll set you back £2.99 for the eBook and rather more for the 'collectable' hard-copy.

On the right is The Thing Itself, which came out on the 17th Dec and which I've been plugging earnestly ever since, even unto the point of starting to annoy people, I don't doubt. So I won't go on about it again, here. Beyond, that is, noting that it's £8.99 in paperback at the moment. Scroll back through the last few posts on this very website for reviews links etc. It's probably my best novel, though.

Non-fiction, once:


Collected reviews, with a lengthy all-new intro on the state of the genre in 2014. Same deal with Kindle Unlimited customers, it seems; a little pricier for those who might wish actually to buy the book.

What else? Well, there was a US edition of Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea and a Chinese edition of Jack Glass; I had a story in Penelope Lewis and Ra Page's anthology of original fiction Spindles ('Raveled Sleeve of Care'); and I contributed a story to Rebecca Levene and Lavie Tidhar's Jews Versus Zombies volume. And in December SFX profiled me, with a full-size image of me hanging out with a couple of Ent friends.


So that was my 2015. What of next year? Well, one thing sure to happen is the second edition (very greatly revised and expanded) of my Palgrave History of Science Fiction will be published. Beyond that, plans are more or less fluid. Fluid can be good, though. It depends on the fluid.

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What Does Brian Clegg Think of The Thing Itself?

By Adam Roberts | December 31, 2015
Categories: Reviews

It's the question on everybody's lips. And the answer is to be found here, on Brian Clegg's website. Indicative quotation:

I can say without any doubt that this by far the best science fiction book I've read all year. I can also say that it won't be to everyone's taste - so don't blame me if you don't like it - but to some it will be a revelation of what science fiction can be. This is the kind of science fiction that should be winning the Booker Prize. Simple as that.

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Itselfy Reviews

By Adam Roberts | December 27, 2015
Categories: Reviews


I'll do a 2015 round-up post on the eve of the New Year, I suppose; but until then let me note two reviews of The Thing Itself. One is by Alan Jacobs, who read my novel, and went on to read some Karl Barth, and juxtaposed the two on his blog. Of the novel he says: "The Thing Itself is all kinds of amazing, and very hard to describe: if you imagine a mashup of The Thing, Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, The Thirty-Nine Steps, and Kant’s metaphysics, you’ll … not quite get it. Just read it, please." He also poses this question:

"What if we thought of our current debates about God, our current confrontations between theists and atheists, as the inevitably sorry by-products of a failure to grasp what [David Bentley] Hart argues, what Barth argues, what Kant says when he presents us with his Fourth Antinomy? And what would happen to our conversations if we took seriously the possibility that we don’t have any real idea what we have been arguing about?"

That's a good question, I think. And then, in more conventionally SFnal mode, the estimable Paul Di Filippo reviews the novel over on the Locus Online website. He also brings in God, although in a much less Karl-Barthy manner: "God bless Roberts's craftsmanly productivity, which keeps us fans reliably supplied with a fresh annual fix, year after revolutionary year". I am blessed! Excellent. Di Filippo ends his review:

"In crafting the character of Charles Gardner, Roberts gives us an utterly believable antihero whose fumbling actions bespeak a completely human set of both virtues and flaws. Like some wounded Fisher King, Charles would like to redeem humanity, but is held back by his inner turbulence and angst. Ultimately, he pushes himself beyond his worst aspects into some kind of redemptive victory. And in Roy Curtius, Roberts gives us a Faustian figure who is neither wholly reprehensible nor vile, but rather a fellow seduced by the dark side of his own nerdy genius. Together, the two enact what is surely the best cat-and-mouse game of this nature since Frank Robinson’s The Power, a hidden template, I think, for this book.

In the end, though, Roberts transcends the simpler SF of Robinson’s era, and exhibits the same postmodern ramping up that he has brought to a dozen other different SF 'power chords.' If Greg Egan and Stanislaw Lem had conspired to rewrite John D. MacDonald’s The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything, the result might have been half as ingenious and gripping and funny and scary and invigorating as The Thing Itself."

The 'power chords' ref is especially neat.

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Today’s the Day …

By Adam Roberts | December 17, 2015
Categories: Book News


... my new novel, The Thing Itself, is released. You can buy it here, if you want to (here's a US equivalent of the same online bookseller).

But maybe you're not sure if you do want to buy? I can't blame you for that. Perhaps a review would help? Here, published today, on publication day no less, is Niall Alexander's review. What does he think? Well, he ends thuswise:

I never imagined I’d find myself so readily recommending a novel “about why you should believe in God,” but by the end of The Thing Itself, Roberts—an atheist, according to the Acknowledgements—has so perfectly framed his case that I—another non-believer, I fear—came away from it with my spiritual convictions variously shaken. No phrase of the praise I would happily heap upon the remarkable achievement this tremendous text represents could outstrip that there statement, so let’s call it a day, eh? Except to say that though The Thing Itself is many things, all of the things The Thing Itself is are evidence of Adam Roberts’ inimitable brilliance.

So there you have it.

And the other SFnal thing, less itself, that is happening today? We're off to see that tomorrow, as it happens.

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Things Themselves

By Adam Roberts | December 16, 2015
Categories: Book News

So: my author copies finally arrived.


There have been some reviews, ahead of Thursday's publication date (hmm: I wonder if anything else sciencefictional is launching on Thursday?) It was discussed on BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review, where the three talking heads proved divided amongst themselves: one disliked the novel, saying it was too clever for its own good; one was on the fence about it; but one, John Tusa, loved it: saying 'I'm very very glad I read it' and that 'Adam Roberts has this extraordinary, restless mind'.

Other review news: the novel is the lead review in the latest SFX, where it gets four stars out of five. Upcoming4me called it 'a new genre in itself', and said it was 'deeply fascinating but hard to understand'. And the estimable Kate Atherton, over at her For Winter Nights blog, had this to say:

"The Thing Itself has a wonderful fluidity and grace. Its ideas are complicated but the novel is also accessible, lightness easing the complexity. There is humour and great character, real depth of emotion – fear, love, panic, guilt, terror, guile – and also enormous sin. Contrasting with the humanity on parade are the glimpses of something other worldly, slotting into each of the stories with such originality and quirkiness. I had to re-read several passages to check that I really had just read what I thought I had. I loved the strangeness.

I do appreciate a novel that makes me think while also entertaining me. The Thing Itself marries the two to perfection. There is so much packed within these pages and, without doubt, it’s one of those memorable novels that will stand to repeated readings over the passing of time. A book of the year for me, for sure."

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The IceThing Cometh

By Adam Roberts | November 30, 2015
Categories: Book News


According to my publisher, this book now actually exists, as a tangible thing. I haven't seen a copy yet, but still: looks handsome! Full of Kant-y goodness, you know.

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Sledge-Lit 2015: Derby, 21st November

By Adam Roberts | November 16, 2015
Categories: Events and Appearances

I'm appearing at this one-day event on Saturday, alongside the estimable Alison Moore, Charlie Stross and Rob Shearman. The schedule of the day is here.

Derby is a fine town. You should come along, say hello, and so on.

[Update]: I went, I saw, I lectured. You can read an account of my GoH speech here.

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Spindles: Stories from the Science of Sleep (Comma Press 2015)

By Adam Roberts | October 26, 2015
Categories: Book News


My author copy of this handsome-looking volume, edited by Penelope Lewis and Ra Page, arrived today. My story, 'Raveled Sleeve of Care', closes the volume, and has an afterward by the editor, Dr Lewis, herself. It is about the sinister Dr Slechterschlaf, and his proposed cure for sleep.


More, including purchasing information, at the Comma website.

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Chinese Jack

By Adam Roberts | October 25, 2015
Categories: Book News


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Memory, Natural and Unnatural

By Adam Roberts | September 25, 2015
Categories: Events and Appearances

The Nature of Memory
Perspectives from Art, History and Neuroscience

6.30 – 8pm | Tuesday 29 September
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, London School of Economics

Jessica Bland, Principal Researcher in Policy and Research, Nesta

Sebastian Groes, Senior Lecturer in English Literature (University of Roehampton)

Adam Roberts, Science Fiction Novelist and Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature (Royal Holloway, London)

Barry C Smith, Professor of Philosophy (Birkbeck, University of London) and Director of the Institute of Philosophy

Chair: Hugo Spiers, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology (UCL)

Our ability to recall the past is a fundamental feature of what makes us human. While neuroscience has advanced our understanding of memory, how do these insights relate to memory as understood in the classics, literature, philosophy and art?

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Well I Like Ebrei, and I Like Zombi, but Which Is Better? There’s Only One Way To Find Out …

By Adam Roberts | September 20, 2015
Categories: Book News


From semi-editor Lavie Tidhar, I learn that an Italian edition of Jews Versus Zombies is now on the cards (including my story 'Zayinim', at which, as I have already noted, I worked assiduously for months, perfecting and titivating the sentences, balancing the structure, refining the narratorial voice and undertaking whole weeks of detailed zom/hebie research). Which is molto cool-o. Lavie has more news though, for it seems the volume has become the focus of the high-powered academic attention of which it is so richly deserving. He reports:

An academic at Wesleyan University is giving a lecture based around Jews vs Zombies at the Association for American Religion meeting. Here is the description:

Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim? Jews as Predators and Prey in the Zombie Apocalypse

There is an ongoing debate in Judaism around whether "stewardship" or "dominion" is the proper way to define our relationship to the rest of creation. What does it mean to have control over the Earth? And how do we practice tza'ar ba'alei chayim, concern for the suffering of living things, from our place at the top of the food chain. The short story collection Jews vs Zombies pushes those questions to their logical, and sometimes illogical extreme by plunging us into the post-zombie apocalypse where humanity is no longer the alpha predator. As both predators and prey, the Jews in these stories have to navigate new ethical concerns that Genesis never imagined.

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Rave, Rave Against the Dying of the Light

By Adam Roberts | September 12, 2015
Categories: Book News


So my latest, and in all likelihood last, collection of SF essays and reviews is now out -- Rave and Let Die: the SF and Fantasy of 2014 (Steel Quill 2015). 269 pages of material, including several never-before-published reviews of books, a lo-o-ong introduction overviewing the state of the genre, and a sort of short-story to finish things off. Steel Quill is an imprint of Ian Whates's NewCon press, so contact him for hard-copies; or you can buy the eBook for the insultingly low price of £2.99 over on amazon.

What else? Well, today (Saturday 12th Sept) there was a Forbidden Planet signing event: that's Ian on the left, James Lovegrove in the middle, and on the right it's ... no: wait. Isn't that George Clooney!!? [peers closer at photo] No. No -- my mistake. That's me on the right.


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By Adam Roberts | September 4, 2015
Categories: Events and Appearances

The University of Glasgow 'Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities' group is running a writing competition. You might want to enter it, you know.

We are pleased to announce a creative-writing competition for science fiction on the theme of medicine, health, and illness.

Science fiction has a long tradition of medical stories: Frankenstein (reanimation), The Island of Doctor Moreau (surgery, tissue grafting), Brave New World (eugenics), Flowers for Algernon (disability), I Am Legend (contagious disease), The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (terminal illness), Woman on the Edge of Time (psychiatry), Never Let Me Go (cloning, transplantation) … and many others. Our creative-writing competition is intended to stimulate new work in this fruitful area.

We invite science-fiction short stories (and also self-contained novel excerpts) of up to 3000 words that address themes of medicine, health, and illness. Some possible ideas for work might be:

Future/alien medicine and doctors
Computerized/robotic healthcare
Engineered diseases and alien plagues
Future/alien conceptions of health and illness, including mental health and illness
Utopian/dystopian visions of health, illness, and medicine
Cosmetic and/or elective surgery/transplantation/modification
Present and future disabilities, and their social/cultural (de)construction
Public health and population health, at a global or galactic level
Alternate medical history (what if a medical pioneer had died young, and/or a particular discovery/advance never been made?)

Entries should be no more than 3000 words, and no entrant may submit more than two entries.

The top three entries, and up to seventeen runners-up, will be published in the competition anthology.

First Prize: £300
Second Prize: £200
Third Prize: £150
Runners-up: £50

Entry is free of charge and open to anyone over 18. Please see the full competition rules.

Entries should be submitted by the deadline of 31 January 2016 using the online form.

I mention this here because I've agreed to be a judge. So, enter, and I will be all ...

... on your work.

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By Adam Roberts | September 3, 2015
Categories: Chitchat

The evergreen i09 has a list of 'The 10 Most Unfilmable Books (That Absolutely Must Be Made Into Films)'. You could click on the link, if you wanted to, and find out which ten unfilmable books they think should be so honoured. If you wanted to.

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Thing Itself, The

By Adam Roberts | August 26, 2015
Categories: Book News

THE THING ITSELF nick fiddle

As SF Signal notes, this is coming soon. Currently slated for a 17th December 2015 release. It's the novelisation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason the world has been waiting for. Also, it solves the Fermi Paradox. You're welcome.

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Landor’s Cleanness

By Adam Roberts | August 6, 2015
Categories: Book News, Lit Crit

I've neglected this author website rather shamefully, and from now on I shall try to be a little more assiduous with updates. Starting with notice that the TLS has reviewed Landor's Cleanness (Oxford Univ. Press 2014). Not wholly dithyrambic, but a pretty positive judgement overall by Jacqueline Bannerjee. I can't deny the 'rather desperately chatty', nor that Landor's reputation is probably unsalvageable. But I'm happy with 'noble', 'close, well-considered and best of all honestly questioning', and 'worth waiting for' is like that old ad for beer. Heineken, was it? Later on she calls it 'a big publishing event', which is nice, if clearly untrue.




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2015 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalists

By Adam Roberts | May 11, 2015
Categories: Awards

The Campbell finalists' list has been announced. And here it is:

Nina Allan, The Race (Newcon Press)
James L. Cambias, A Darkling Sea (Tor)
William Gibson, The Peripheral (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Daryl Gregory, Afterparty (Tor)
Dave Hutchinson, Europe In Autumn (Solaris)
Simon Ings, Wolves (Gollancz)
Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator), The Three-Body Problem (Tor)
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Knopf)
Will McIntosh, Defenders (Orbit)
Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (Redhook)
Laline Paull, The Bees (Ecco)
Adam Roberts, Bête (Gollancz)
John Scalzi, Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future (Tor)
Andy Weir, The Martian (Broadway Books)
Jeff VanderMeer The Southern Reach Trilogy (FSG Originals)
Peter Watts, Echopraxia (Tor)

You'll notice that Bête is on that list. You'll notice, too, how chuffed I am at that fact.

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Alan Jacobs on Bête

By Adam Roberts | April 14, 2015
Categories: Reviews

Hard to think of a contemporary writer-critic I esteem more highly than Alan Jacobs. Over at his 'New Atlantis' blog Text Patterns, he gives his reactions to reading Bête.

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Caroline Edwards and me, 12th May 2015

By Adam Roberts | April 14, 2015
Categories: Events and Appearances

nottingham popcult.jpg-large

Hope to see you there.

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Looking Forward: 2016

By Adam Roberts | April 14, 2015
Categories: Book News

THE THING ITSELF nick fiddle

Nothing finalised yet, but it looks like this could be an early-ish 2016 release.

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Jews versus Zombies

By Adam Roberts | February 24, 2015
Categories: Book News


Rebecca Levene and Lavie Tidhar have edited these two volumes, Jurassic have published them, proceeds will go to a very worthwhile charity, and from March, you'll be able to buy either (or both!) here. It's e-book only at the moment, but a limited edition hard copy is coming, and perhaps an omnibus. Zombies contains my story 'Zayinim', at which I laboured and struggled over a period of many months, honing and polishing the sentences, adjusting the structure, refining the narratorial voice and undertaking whole weeks of detailed zom/hebie research. I can only hope you like the result.

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Locus: Best SF/Fantasy of 2014

By Adam Roberts | February 1, 2015
Categories: Book News

The complete list is here. I was delighted to see Bête listed amongst the (very strong) list of best novels; and doubly-delighted that Sibilant Fricative: Essays & Reviews is listed amongst 'Best Non-Fiction'. Triple delight awaited me when I saw that “Thing and Sick” (originally in Solaris Rising 3) is listed amongst the 'Best Novelettes'. Good gracious, if I were to carry on looking down this list, and found yet another of my 2014 titles, perhaps the short story 'Trademark Bugs: A Legal History', included as well, well I would reach quadruple delight, and that would have serious health implications for my frail body. So I'll stop.

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Saint Rebor

By Adam Roberts | January 25, 2015
Categories: Book News

A new collection of short stories: available now. I believe there are 150 actual copies for sale, all signed by me; but there's no limit to the number of e-book copies available, and they're only £2.99 a pop. Amazing!

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Twenty Trillion Leagues: American Edition

By Adam Roberts | January 21, 2015
Categories: Book News

The US edition of Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea is out now. That's very exciting news! There's also an audio-book version for download, narrated by Christian Coulson. One more thing. Follow this link -- this one, here -- down, down into the depths of publishing's marianas trench, and you'll find an excerpt of this latter.

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My Six Best Books of 2014 …

By Adam Roberts | December 18, 2014
Categories: Book News

... in a more-literal sense than is usually implied by these sorts of headlines.

1. Bête, a novel: it's the best of me. £6.49 on Kindle; still some hardcover copies left in stock (pricier, but makes a better gift. Look at that cover art! I mean, obviously I can't claim any credit for the cover art. But you have to agree: it is a thing of beauty).

2. Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea, a novel. Gorgeously illustrated by the sublime Mahendra Singh. A piffling £5.49 on Kindle; only four hardcover copies left anywhere in the world. What are you waiting for?

3. Sibilant Fricative, a collection of essays and reviews. I believe that all hardcopies of this title are sold now; so it's Kindle only: but at £3.42 it's a steal. (Many of the pieces in that volume first appeared on my Punkadiddle blog; but I've taken that blog down now, so if you want to read those pieces you gotta buy the book. Cunning, no?)

4. Get Started in: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (Teach Yourself: Writing). Freshly published!

5. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (Edinburgh University Press). The first new edition since 1983 of this foundational classic of literary criticism; all annotation loose-ends tied up, new facts about the tortured compositional history of the book uncovered, 200-pages of introductory matter. And an eye-wateringly expensive price. What you gonna do? Academic publishing is a strange thing.

6. Landor's Cleanness (Oxford University Press). The best critical monograph on Walter Savage Landor available! Well, strictly speaking, the only critical monograph on Walter Savage Landor available. But that's still something.

A: So. That's a lot of books.
R: It is.
A: For one year, I mean.
R: Well, it's not quite as Stakhanovite as it may, at first blush, appear. It's more a reflection of the exigencies of publishing, or more specifically of different kinds of publishing.
A: How so?
R: Well: take the two academic titles. Landor's Cleanness was written 2011-12, and OUP decided they wanted to publish it towards the end of that latter year. If it's taken until October 2014, that's partly because the wheels of academic publish grind slow. The Biographia Edition was also mostly finished by the end of 2012; and revised and readied for the press in 2013. Of all the titles in the photo above it was the one that took the most labour, partly because compiling it and writing the intro was just a laborious business, and partly because the proofing was an immensely painstaking matter. It's a scholarly edition of a classic of English letters; I had to get the text right.
A: Still!
R: Well, except that my day-job is Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature, and pursuing research of this kind (Coleridge, Landor) is a large part of that job. Those two titles represent the main focus of my Professorial energies for nearly four years; that they both happen to appear within months of one another is just a coincidence.
A: And the Sibilant Fricative thingy?
R: Again: it's a collection of essays and reviews written over a five year period (indeed a couple of the pieces are even older than that). The labour was in pulling them together, and in that task I was aided by the mighty Ian Whates.
A: Two novels though!
R: That's a little anomalous. I don't usually publish two novels in one year! What happened is that Twenty Trillion was originally slated to appear in late 2013, but got bumped back (in the event I didn't publish a novel in 2013). Bête is the novel I'm conscious of having been writing 2013-14, and it was trickier to write than most of my fiction. Chris Priest called it 'sluttishly freeform', which (I confess) rather pleased me, in part because it means I was able to bury what might otherwise have been too procrustean a substructure (to do with riddles, Sophocles, St John, Mythago Wood, Ted Hughes and a couple of other things).
A: So will there be two novels from you in 2015?
R: As if.
A: And the Get Started In?
R: That was a commission. Being a professional writer means taking commissions seriously (provided only that they are serious commissions; as this was), and therefore finding the time to write them, to spec and as well as you can.
A: So!
R: So.

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“Eternal Treblinka of the Spotless Soul: Bête by Adam Roberts”

By Adam Roberts | October 1, 2014
Categories: Reviews

That most excellent critic Niall Alexander has reviewed Bête (in slightly spoilery mode) over at Snip: "This, then, is not some novelty novel, but a fully-fledged philosophical fable for our age. Affectionate albeit barbed, far-fetched yet oddly plausible, and dark, but not without a certain spark, Bête is as smart and as satisfying and as challenging as anything any of the Adam Robertses have written."

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‘Books And Such’ reviews Bête

By Adam Roberts | October 1, 2014
Categories: Reviews

"When I started reading this I suspected that the novelty of talking animals would be the basis of the whole book and there would be little substance thereafter but I was completely wrong. Bête is a fantastic work of fiction that is funny, insightful and more importantly…important! Focusing on real life issues that we face today, this is a work of genius that I thoroughly enjoyed.'

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Stuff Magazine too!

By Adam Roberts | September 19, 2014
Categories: Reviews

Very nice.

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Starburst review Bête

By Adam Roberts | September 18, 2014
Categories: Reviews

... and it's a doozy. The last three paragraphs:

"Graham, as narrator, is a character we can all identify with, a man who knows his flaws and accepts them as part of who he is. It’s a pleasure to read about him and, thanks to the skills of the author, we’re immersed in his journey rather than simply being told about it. There are moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity, yet when Graham feels pain, we feel it too; when he hurts, we hurt along with him, to the point of sharing his sadness. Be warned – there may be tears.

As the novel progresses, society inevitably alters and adapts to the new animal intelligences and, while it’s all very believable, it’s not necessarily in the way the reader would expect. Ultimately, because Bête is about this one man, it’s all seen through his eyes; it feels post-apocalyptic at times until being reminded that society, however different, still exists.

The greatest science fiction novels take into account the changes on the people affected by the advances in technology, and Bête ranks with the best of them. What could have been just quirky and satirical – it is both – becomes so much more through intelligent writing that takes the reader through a whole range of emotions. Bête is a wonderful book that, once begun, insists on being read in one sitting; darkly comic, it’s a deeply thoughtful, moving and uplifting story from a master of the genre."

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SFX reviews Bête

By Adam Roberts | September 17, 2014
Categories: Reviews

Jon Courtenay Grimwood: four and a half stars. I'm delighted; Jon is one of the most astute critics (quite apart from being one of the best writers) of his generation. Over on twitter he said: "pretty sure I said where Professor Roberts and Adam Roberts meet. Certainly meant it." My cup runneth over.

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