Publishing imprint Solaris have been knocking it out of the park recently with their range of science fiction stories. You can pretty much guarantee that any book from their range is going to be a slightly odd experience, presenting interesting ideas in new ways, guided by fresh talent.
Savant is a good example of this. Set in a futuristic dystopia that, going against trend, doesn’t need a spunky young revolutionary to save it, Savant explores a very personal journey between two people. Mankind, it seems, has made too much of a noise in the cosmos, and is afraid that it will attract the attention of some sort of alien threat. Its options are simple; either revert to a pre-technology age or rely on a complicated network of psychically powerful people called ‘Actives’ who can shield mankind with their powers.
The things is, most Actives don’t know that they are. For the shield to work, a network of intensely regimented academics has to exist. The Actives share their ideas and the like through normal channels to others across the world. It all starts to go wrong when a chap called Tobe slowly begins to become unhinged from his routine. Worse still, by doing so, the entire network begins to fail. It’s up to his carer Metoo, to get things back on track. But in a world so tightly controlled, that isn’t exactly easy.
This is a very, very gentle yet constantly engaging read. This is not an action-adventure novel. It’s an exploration about people who think in different ways to the majority and how their perspective changes the world. The world that Abnett has created here is a vivid and intense. The author uses methods as simple as the constant ‘tone’ of people’s schedules to the unusual names of the various house-hold goods the characters use.
As engaging as it is, be warned that Savant does not attempt to explain itself up front. Rather it expects you to dive in and accept the world for what it is. In many ways, the story itself is like meeting someone so utterly different from yourself that you become fascinated. The characters and the world are just strange enough that you simply have to know more.
Savant is definitely a book in which the journey (rather than the ending) is the key factor here. The end doesn’t matter as much as the whole of the tale. It seems that Nik Abnett writes science fiction for those who are excited by the strange, the new and the different, and we enjoyed Savant quite a lot.
SAVANT / AUTHOR: NIK ABNETT / PUBLISHER: SOLARIS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW