cover image Inversion


Aric McBay. AK, $17 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-84935-504-9

In the impressive fifth installment of AK Press’s Black Dawn series, which aims to “center queerness, Blackness, antifascism, and celebrate voices previously disenfranchised,” McBay (Kraken Calling) takes readers to the utopic planet Germinal. There, peacefully coexisting factions share both renewable resources and a worldview centered on kindness. Char of the Ami—one of said factions—is just starting to seek her place in the world when everything changes with an invasion of colonizers from space. The rest of the story centers on the question of whether it’s possible for a peaceful people to survive attack without losing some of what makes them so special—or stooping to the level of the invaders. McBray handles this ethical quandary nimbly, forcing readers—who come from a world far more similar to that of the invaders—to confront the extent of their own aggressive tendencies, as the Germinal natives consistently make choices that run contrary to what feels most obvious. The setting is truly alien—for instance, on Germinal, one can walk between seasons, from spring to summer and so on—and though it takes some getting used to, it’s a masterful worldbuilding feat. Never heavy-handed or preachy, this thought-provoking work of speculative fiction is sure to linger in readers’ minds. (Nov.)