cover image A Stranger in the Citadel

A Stranger in the Citadel

Tobias S. Buckell. Tachyon, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61696-398-9

Bestseller Buckell (Hurricane Fever) explores the consequences of book banning in this atmospheric postapocalyptic sci-fi fantasy. In a far future in which humanity has “crossed the great, dark void” of space to colonize a new planet after the ecological collapse of Earth, it is believed that “the gods delivered us from strife and pain, starvation and struggle, plagues and destructive weather. All we had to do was to give up knowledge.” For this reason, all books are banned in the city of Ninetha. When Lilith, the daughter of the city’s dictator, discovers that her family hides a book, it upends everything she thought she knew. She foolishly trusts Kira, her ruthless trainer, with her discovery—leading to a bloody insurrection that kills all of Lilith’s family. With the help of outlaw librarian Ishmael, Lilith flees Ninetha to the strange world outside the city, where she’s shocked to learn that very different attitudes about books persist. While the conceit feels familiar, Buckell elevates his take on it with unexpected twists and a kindling sense of wonder in the world beyond Ninetha’s walls. The message about the importance of literacy could not be more timely, and Buckell’s sure-handed plotting keep the pages flying. Readers will be hooked. Agent: Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Assoc. (Oct.)