cover image In the Mouth of the Whale

In the Mouth of the Whale

Paul McCauley. Gollancz (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $16.95 trade paper (376p) ISBN 978-0-575-10075-6

McCauley demonstrates his talent for complex and imaginative storytelling in this superior space opera set in the 22nd century, the third in his Quiet War series (after 2009’s Gardens of the Sun). One of the main threads concerns an unnamed child growing up in Brazil; she’s an enigmatic figure, a brilliant autodidact with a taste for genetic engineering, who’s being prepared by an unnamed, omniscient tutor for the war that lies ahead of her. A second narrative presents a quest for redemption by Isak Sixsmith, a librarian, whose lapses on a data-restoration assignment cost the lives of some colleagues. The third focuses on Ori, a pilot stationed on the huge space station known as the Whale, whose life changes after she witnesses something unusual. The prose can be dense at times, and the plots demand close reading; McCauley packs in so much information that it’s easy for readers to get confused if their attention strays for even half a page. Agent: Mic Cheetham Literary Agency (U.K.). (June)