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31Dec

The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup

The Actual Star by Monica Byrne; Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson; The Book of Sand by Theo Clare; Hare House by Sally Hinchcliffe; and The Last Adventure of Constance Verity by A Lee Martinez

The Actual Star by Monica Byrne (Voyager, £20)
In her second novel, Byrne braids together three storylines, each set a thousand years apart. The final days of 1012 are depicted through the experiences of three royal siblings in the early post-classical Mayan era; in December 2012, Leah, a 19-year-old mixed race American, makes the journey of a lifetime to Belize; and in 3012, as the last of the icecaps disappear, the end of the diluvian age is celebrated all over the world. The entire population has been reduced to around 8 million, most of whom are always on the move and own no more than they can carry. A way of life forced on climate refugees has become the guiding philosophy of near-universal religion LaViaja, credited to Saint Leah, believed to have been the first person to reach Xibalba, the mystical world beyond this one. This is an incredibly ambitious and thought-provoking work.

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