cover image Lambda


David Musgrave. Europa, $18 trade paper (372p) ISBN 978-1-60945-764-8

Musgrave debuts with an overly complex story about a young woman’s stuttering early career in an England full of strange creatures and sentient technology. Humans coexist with lambdas, semiaquatic humanoids that live in wet basements and perform undesirable jobs. New police officer Cara Gray loses her first assignment surveilling the lambdas after she fails to foresee a school bombing and a lambda rights group claims responsibility. Cara’s job is replaced by an AI program, and she’s reassigned to be a community liaison officer to the lambda. She grows attached to them, especially Gavin Knight-Green, who has a fixation on the “Four Fertile Pairs,” lambdas in the Labrador Sea thought to be the original birth parents. Then Cara is approached by a secret intelligence service with an ultimatum: she must agree to converse with a synthetic human assassin tasked with “mitigating” the bombing suspect or her failure to stop the bombing will be exposed. The plot has a few too many threads, many unresolved, and the unusual structure—the action is intercut with a one-sided conversation that goes unexplained for much of the novel—adds to the confusion. Still, Musgrave uses his tale to provide some affecting commentary on refugee crises and the future of technology. Readers will find plenty, if perhaps too much, to chew on. (July)