Londonia, Kate A. Hardy (Tartarus Press 978-1-912586-19-6, £35.00, 405pp, hc) April 2020.
Kate A. Hardy’s London of 2072 in Londonia is divided into two worlds. In the Cincture (hyper-center of old London Town, also called the Egg), the elite live a more-than-comfortable, mostly frivolous life, protected from the harsh realities of dire post-apocalyptic weather and a hand-to-mouth existence. Londonia (also known as The Pan), where life is nasty, brutish, and short, resembles Dickensian London. And like Dickens, Hardy portrays both the best and the worst of it. Despite the poverty, vicious weather, and the considerable percentage of the population who are cruel and murderous, Londonia’s barter-based society is also full of true friendship, cooperation, and humanity. Hoxton, the protagonist, is of unknown and mysterious origin, but her intelligence, natural talents, and luck in attracting the best of comrades set her up as the best Finder – one with a knack and connections for finding desired commodities and trading them – in Londonia. She also becomes a Finder for citizens of the Cincture and moves between the two environments, which enables her to pursue answers to the puzzle of her past. As compelling a heroine as the capable and beautiful Hoxton is, her finding partner, Jarvis, and her community of friends are just as well drawn, as are the denizens of the Cincture. The plot flowing through this rich world and animating the characters living in it is an intelligent commentary on current society and where we may well be headed, but it is also a traditional, if updated, story – and, consequently, a real page-turner. Hoxton wonders who she is, but once she learns there is someone in her past she must find, her search for answers becomes imperative. There’s also a strong stream of romance, a dastardly villain, and room for a sequel. A deeply engaging and always-entertaining novel, the author’s superb use and invention of future language is brilliant.
Paula Guran has edited more than 40 science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and more than 50 novels and collections featuring the same. She’s reviewed and written articles for dozens of publications. She lives in Akron, Ohio, near enough to her grandchildren to frequently be indulgent.
This review and more like it in the May 2020 issue of Locus.
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