cover image Among the Living

Among the Living

Tim Lebbon. Titan, $16.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-80336-594-7

Combining a plausible existential threat with vivid depictions of a forbidding landscape, Lebbon (The Last Storm) crafts an expert work of ecological horror. In the near future, catastrophic climate change has so devastated the planet that America’s drought-afflicted farming belt is now known as the Desert. The demand for new sources of rare-earth minerals leads four experts to the Arctic’s Hawkshead Island, where they’ve identified a cave system that could yield riches. But when they enter, the researchers encounter an unusual group of mummified human remains, apparently tens of thousands of years old. Despite every indication that the bodies are long dead, one of them, whose head is in “an impossible position,” appears to move, sending the expedition members fleeing for their lives. When three of the four emerge from the caves, they meet another team, this one comprising activists and ecoterrorists, who are concerned that the intrusion may have unleashed a contagious intelligent disease that could kill every human on Earth. Lebbon skillfully exploits the very real concern that melting permafrost could release deadly viruses to create a nail-biting scientific thriller worthy of Michael Crichton. Readers will be wowed. (Feb.)