A fascinating debut novel I had the pleasure to review for The Dublin Review of books.
Speculative novels from Ireland are as rare as hens’ teeth, despite the towering examples bequeathed to us by Jonathan Swift and Flann O’Brien. In more recent decades we have Mike McCormack’s fictions, and a YA novel by Sarah Maria Griffin. That’s about it as regards novels that meet Margaret Atwood’s tighter definition of speculative fiction as extrapolating the latent possibilities of current trends.
So I was immediately hooked when I heard of the premise of Bourke’s novel: a line of people queuing for generations, not sure what they are waiting for, but utterly convinced of the importance of keeping one’s place in the line. And ready to torture those who transgress.
The book twists between adventure and satire and existential questions – it’s Waiting for Godot crossed with Gulliver’s Travels. Seriously, that fits best.
Not surprising that it’s from Tramp Press. They brought out A Brilliant Void a couple of years ago – a collection of classic science fiction from Ireland. It’s like a window into a different era. There was a time when Ireland – or Dublin at least – was home to several sci-fi and horror writers: Dorothy McArdle, James Fitz-Maurice O’Brien, Jane Barlow, and many others.