Review: Hollow World / Author: Michael J. Sullivan / Publisher: Tachyon / Release Date: April 15th
Michael J. Sullivan is fast making a name for himself. He has already become a little bit of a darling of the fantasy community with his well-received Riyria Chronicles, with the books selling in excess of 450,000 copies since the release of the first in the series.
Unlike many, Sullivan is not satisfied to simply stick to the genre that made his name. Few authors would be so willing to venture out of their comfort zone and take on a completely different genre but, following a Kickstarter appeal that raised ten times the amount asked, Sullivan is back to take on the sci-fi genre with Hollow World.
So, was the final result worth the gamble? In a word… yes. An emphatic yes at that. Hollow World is a simply fantastic read. Sullivan makes the wise choice of not focusing too much on the science behind his time-travelling story, allowing himself to craft a tale filled with richly detailed characters that readers will connect with easily. The science won’t matter once you are drawn into the marvellously realised Hollow World, with Sullivan putting a nice twist of individuality into the familiar trope of a future world populated by a breed of humans that are indistinguishable from each other.
Ellis Rogers and Pax form a double act that is wholly endearing. Rogers’ troubled past and failed aspirations form the basis of his character and act as the perfect catalyst for the decisions he makes. This is beautifully counterbalanced by the raw emotion and sensitivity of Pax, who is able to understand Ellis far more deeply than anybody else ever has, including his wife and best friend.
Talking of Ellis’ best friend, Warren acts as the perfect foil to our hero. All of the best villains are ones who truly believe in the things that they are doing. After all, if they don’t believe it, why would anybody take them seriously as a threat? Sullivan writes the character of Warren brilliantly, using him as a vehicle to take on the very troubling issues a place like Hollow World creates without ever letting him lapse into cartoonish supervillainy. The man has a point with almost everything that he says, even if the conclusions he reaches are extreme, and this allows him to play on Rogers' own issues with the future that he has found himself in.
Sullivan himself notes that Hollow World is unlikely to sell in large numbers. In a world saturated with fantasy and beastie literature, a sci-fi book that examines the very human impact of the world that has been created is a hard sell. It shouldn’t be. Hollow World is an excellent read and genre fans should check it out as soon as they are able.