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Hurricane Fever, by Tobias S. Buckell

Review copy provided by Tor.

The first of Buckell’s thrillers (Arctic Rising) made me sit up and take notice, because there is a distinct stylistic difference between writing a thriller and writing near-future SF. I think a lot of us SF writers look at the sales numbers for thrillers and think, “But that’s basically the stuff we’re doing!” But the differences are crucial. They start with the shorter sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and often books, and they go on from there. The thriller skims the surface of the near-future technological and social changes, focusing on action and adventure. The emotional connections between characters are clear, not murky, whether they are positive or negative–even when someone is in the “friend or enemy?” category, they are clearly tagged by genre conventions to be in this category. It is sharp and accessible and fast.

Buckell has completely nailed this style, as distinct from the style of his previous books. He deserves the sales numbers that go with it, and I hope he’s getting them, because he has married the thriller style to actual knowledge of the Caribbean as something other than a vacation destination and fun extrapolative bits of SF–shark-based bio-paint, awesome!–so that it is a superior grade of thriller. If you’re an SF reader who dips into thrillers from time to time, or if you have a dedicated thriller reader in the circle of people for whom you buy presents, Hurricane Fever (out in July) should definitely make your shopping list.

Hurricane Fever the story of Prudence “Roo” Jones, who is preparing for the increasingly common storms he and his nephew weather on his boat when he gets a message from an old friend. The consequences for Roo, his neighbors and friends, and his nephew Delroy, span several islands and the entire rest of the book. There are multiple storms of varying severity, other strong effects of climate change, a hemorrhagic plague, tailored genes, spies whose governmental support is also varying, Bond villain monologues, neo-Nazis to thwart…the whole thing races along at an amazing clip, and if you like thrillers, you won’t want to miss it.

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