cover image Mercury Rising

Mercury Rising

R.W.W. Greene. Angry Robot, $14.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-85766-972-8

Greene (The Light Years) remixes sci-fi conventions into a wild, satisfying adventure in a nearly picaresque vein. In an alternate 1961 where space technology has advanced more rapidly, American and Soviet forces narrowly repel an alien attack force. Fourteen years later, petty criminal Brooklyn Lamontagne avoids a lengthy prison sentence by enlisting for a full tour with the Extra-Orbital Forces. In basic training, he befriends Tommy, a gay Oklahoman, and Dee, a member of the Black Panther Party, before being assigned to the moon as a computer tech. After a year of crisscrossing the lunar outposts, he joins the mostly gay crew of a ship where a doctor uses experimental treatments to give Brooklyn greater strength and superhuman healing abilities. After the doctor tries to kill him, Brooklyn wakes up in a strange, underground shanty town the fellow human residents claim is deep under Venus’s surface. Their hardscrabble existence begins to make more sense when a hyper-literal “designed” being arrives claiming to be an ambassador between aliens and humans, setting into action the unexpected conclusion. Each setting change brings new curveballs that confound predictions, and the separate episodes eventually build into one another, creating a genre-bending romp. Readers willing to roll with the punches will delight in following Greene’s winding path. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (May)