Justina Robson's books have been short-listed for the Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, John W. Campbell, and the British Science Fiction Association Awards. In light of all this, a novel such as Keeping it Real isn't something one would normally expect from an author of this caliber. And yet, this is good news indeed. Not only is it Robson's most accessible work, but it will certainly encourage potential readers to check out her more ambitious and "serious" novels. You can learn more about the author and her work at www.justinarobson.com.
The publication of a book like Keeping it Real also demonstrates just how diversified Pyr's stable of writers and novels will ultimately be. Once again, it's evident that their desire to publish works that are different from what's being released by the powerhouses continues to fuel Pyr's passion for both science fiction and fantasy. And although they made a name for themselves with thought-provoking books by authors such as Ian McDonald, Sean Williams, David Louis Edelman and many others, by publishing novels such as Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself and Justina Robson's Keeping it Real they show that Pyr is not averse to release more humorous and entertaining books.
When the Quantum Bomb exploded in 2015, the fabric of the universe was torn asunder and its different dimensions were revealed. The inhabitants of Earth must now coexist with elves, elementals, demons, faeries, and other such creatures and entities. Special agent Lila Black is now more machine than woman. She's been assigned to protect elfin rock star Zal, lead singer of the No Shows, the most popular band on the planet. Zal has been receiving death threats from elfin fundamentalists, and Lila must become his bodyguard.
The worldbuilding is interesting, and Robson's portrayal of the disparate realms is done with neat imagery. The story revolves around Lila, who shows a lot more depth as the tale progresses. Seeing her "discover" all that her new cyborg body has to offer adds a little something to this book. Zal and Dar stand out from the rest of the supporting cast, but this remains Lila's story.
This is a fun, entertaining and action-packed novel. There's a lot of humor, and the pace is at times fast and furious. I was using Keeping it Real as my "commute" book, and I was always disappointed when I realized that my stop was next. Indeed, I found myself turning those pages, always eager to see what would happen next.
Don't get me wrong. The Quantum Gravity sequence (there will be a sequel released later this year in the UK) isn't Hal Duncan's The Book of All Hours or R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing. Still, it's a light yet extremely enjoyable reading experience.
Another Pyr offering, another quality read. I will have a couple of copies of this one up for grabs soon, so stay tuned for that giveaway!