cover image By Light Alone

By Light Alone

Adam Roberts. Gollancz (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $14.95 trade paper (422p) ISBN 978-0-575-08366-0

In this off-kilter work, Roberts (New Model Army) mixes social commentary and science fiction, springboarding from one simple premise: in a future where people can use photosynthesis to live on water and sunlight, real food is the ultimate luxury and the gulf between the haves and have-nots is wider than ever before. While the narrative ostensibly focuses on the trials of a wealthy family whose daughter is kidnapped while on vacation, Roberts mostly uses his characters to explore a world of great dichotomy and simmering upheaval. A heavy dose of class warfare is blended with fear of the other, the societal atmosphere of F. Scott Fitzgerald mixed with the bleak insight of George Orwell. It’s provocative, if ponderous and meandering, with some troubling content concerning the treatment of children. Striving to be literature, this story does little in the way of entertainment. Agent: Steve Calcutt, Anubis Literary Agency. (Jan.)