cover image Wolves


Simon Ings. Gollancz (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $14.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-575-11987-1

The advent of augmented reality occurs amid doomsday preparation in British author Ings’s dark near-future bildungs­roman. In an unnamed European city, friends Conrad and Ralf design wearable technology that overlays 3-D images onto reality. Some decry this intrusion into public space, but others see it as the wave of the future, and wealthy investor Bryon Vaux offers to purchase Conrad and Ralf’s company. Conrad recognizes Vaux as a disturbing figure from his past and flashes back to his childhood growing up in his parents’ dilapidated hotel. His father made sensory vests for blind veterans; his erratic mother, Sara, disappeared; and his best friend, Michel, was preparing for the fall of civilization. When Sara was found dead in the trunk of the family car, young Conrad took drastic action. Ings infuses his dystopia with harsh descriptions of abandoned landscapes; Michel, who disdains his bleak surroundings, is obsessed with building a boat to survive the end times. Slowly creeping toward a society of virtual experiences, the story provides mystery with vivid references to water, floods, and the characters’ persistent pursuit of detachment from reality. Agent: Peter Tallack, Science Factory (U.K.). (June)