cover image Missile Gap

Missile Gap

Charles Stross, . . Subterranean, $35 (99pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-058-6

In this weird little alternative history novella, acclaimed futurist Stross (Glasshouse ) takes the familiar clashes of the Cold War and stretches and warps them to fit a flattened Earth where the emergence of new continents incites competitive colonization efforts from the Americans and Soviets. When the colonists encounter 1,000-year-old radioactive ruins and poisonous termite-like creatures that exhibit eerie degrees of intelligence, the true nature of their changed world slowly becomes clear. The result is a blend of 1900s H.G. Wells and 1970s propaganda, updated for the 21st century in the clear, chilly and fashionably cynical style that lets Stross get away with premises that would be absurdly cheesy in anyone else's hands. (Dec.)