cover image Ascension


Nicholas Binge. Riverhead, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-53958-3

The incredible premise of this superlative science fiction thriller from Binge (Professor Everywhere) gains credibility through the adroit presentation of the main narrative through letters and the pitch-perfect characterization of the brilliant lead, Harold Tunmore, who’s haunted by a fatal error caused by his own arrogance. Harold, a British surgical consultant turned physicist, disappeared in 1990, leaving his family bereft. In 2019, long after Harold was declared legally dead, his brother, Ben, is stunned to hear from a friend that he thought he’d spotted Harold in a psychiatric hospital near Surrey. Ben reunites with his sibling, who seems out of it and dies by self-immolation soon afterward. Ben finds a collection of Harold’s letters, which recount his participation in a covert expedition to the Pacific in 1991 to investigate a mountain, only recently discovered, which dwarfs the Himalayas. The sudden appearance of the massive structure proves to be just one of the mysteries Harold and his colleagues tackle at risk to their sanity and their lives. Binge’s superlative imagining of how the mind-blowing scientific discoveries, which have global implications, would affect his characters elevates this above similar genre fiction. Admirers of Michael Marshall Smith’s The Anomaly will be riveted. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners. (Apr.)