cover image Absynthe


Brendan P. Bellecourt. DAW, $18 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1678-2

Set in a lushly depicted alternate Roaring ’20s distinguished by futuristic technology such as mechanika—artificial beings—and mind-altering bacteria, Bellecourt’s sci-fi debut (after the fantasy Song of Shattered Shards series, written as Bradley P. Beaulieu) is complex, ambitious, and sweeping in scope. Ten years after the Great War between America and the countries of the St. Lawrence Pact, former soldier Liam Mulcahey still struggles with the aftereffects of the conflict, having lost most of his memories near the war’s climax. After the terrorist group Uprising attacks during a presidential speech, Liam is swept up into bizarre events which slowly unlock his memories of serving in an elite, telepathically connected military unit, revealing his ability to cast and see through illusions. Now aware of a secret conflict raging between factions intent on controlling America, Liam must figure out who to trust, and which side to fight for, even as he uncovers his own long-hidden role in things. Bellecourt uses the mechanika to question the nature of personhood and the presence of mind control and illusions to constantly challenge both characters’ and readers’ perceptions of reality. The story’s complexity sometimes threatens to overload the narrative, but the many twists keep the pages turning. Readers are in for a mind-bending ride. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Dec.)