cover image Skyward Inn

Skyward Inn

Aliya Whiteley. Solaris, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-78108-882-1

Beneath the veneer of understated English-village realism lies a mind-bending reality in this slow-moving sci-fi fable from Whiteley (Skein Island). Years ago, Jem abandoned her baby for a 10-year contract to plaster the newly discovered planet Qita with propaganda posters. Now she’s back home in the Western Protectorate, a walled-off region of England that has chosen to return to a pre-industrial life, where she and her Qitan partner, Isley, run a popular inn. Jem and Fosse, her now-teenage son, both seethe with resentment and alienation; meanwhile, an unauthorized Qitan visitor sparks a chain reaction of uncanny physical ailments among the people of the Western Protectorate, and the strange symptoms cast the Qitans’ peaceful surrender to humans in a new light. Much of the novel is bogged down by dreary characters and overly vague worldbuilding, but as Whiteley builds to the climax, her trademark subtle surrealism shines. Literary sci-fi readers with a taste for family drama will enjoy this molasses-slow, deeply weird story of missed chances, invasion, and assimilation. [em]Agent: Max Edwards, Aevitas Creative Management. (Mar.) [/em]