cover image Stonefish


Scott R. Jones. Word Horde, $16.99 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-939905-56-7

Jones’s debut novel (after the story collection Shout Kill Revel Repeat) treads well-worn paths, invoking cosmic horror and the time-honored science fiction concept of reality-as-computer-simulation, but does a credible job in updating them to reflect the climate crisis. Journalist Den Secord’s investigation into proliferating pockets of unreality puts him on the trail of missing tech titan Gregor Makarios as he follows enigmatic clues in Sasquatch sightings. Navigating a near-future British Columbia scorched by global warming, Den encounters both Gregor and Bigfoot, neither of whom are what he expected. Gregor guards the last remnants of a team of 17 artificial intelligences that pushed beyond their supposed computational limits into the next level of reality, the occupants of which have now come to visit. Den’s character arc as he reels from these revelations is overshadowed by the novel’s all-too-topical setting, and many readers will grow frustrated with the focus on one man’s existential angst as the greater horror of a human-destroyed environment looms in the background. With this deeply philosophical novel, Jones rails against the structural unfairness of the universe, offering no comforts, only ugly choices. Readers will find plenty to hold their attention, but long for a glimmer of hope in the darkness. (Mar.)