Next month, MAG are due to publish Lavie Tidhar‘s critically-acclaimed THE VIOLENT CENTURY! Published in Poland as STULECIE PRZEMOCY, with the stunning cover above, here’s the synopsis…
Nie chcieli zostać bohaterami.
Bronili Imperium Brytyjskiego przez siedemdziesiąt lat. Oblivion i Fogg, nierozłączni przyjaciele powiązani wspólnym przeznaczeniem. Aż do pewnej nocy w Berlinie, kiedy rozdzieliła ich wojna i tajemnica.
Jednakże przeszłość potrafi dogonić każdego.
Wezwani ponownie do Biura Spraw Przestarzałych – instytucji, dla której żadna sprawa nie staje się przestarzała – Fogg i Oblivion muszą stawić czoło pamięci o straszliwej wojnie, nieupamiętnionych aktach heroizmu oraz życiu w dusznych korytarzach i zamkniętych pokojach, gdzie odbywają się potajemne spotkania. Muszą się z tym wszystkim zmierzyć, by znaleźć odpowiedź na pytanie ostateczne:
Co czyni bohatera?
THE VIOLENT CENTURY is published in the UK by Hodder, in the US by Thomas Dunne Books, and as a Limited Edition by PS Publishing. It has also been published in a number of other territories and languages. Here’s the English-language synopsis…
They never meant to be heroes.
For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.
But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.
Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism — a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields — to answer one last, impossible question:
What makes a hero?
Here is a selection from the afore-mentioned critical acclaim that has been heaped on the novel…
‘A brilliantly etched phantasmagoric reconfiguring of that most sizzling of eras – the twilight 20th… This book has it all: time travel, political intrigue, hellacious history… You’ve got superheroes in the guise of regular humans, you’ve got World War II … THE VIOLENT CENTURY is a torrid tour de force!’ — James Ellroy
‘Tidhar synthesises the geeky and the political in a vision of world events that breaks new superhero ground… the world-building is so profoundly smart… Comics, of course, have been doing “what if they were real?” for ages, from Alan Moore’s Watchmen to Pat Mills’s Marshal Law. But the politics in Tidhar’s novel are very much about real-world subterfuge… the truly clever thing here is that while the reader has to suspend disbelief in the existence of superheroes, the superheroes themselves struggle to believe in the war, and especially the Holocaust: repeatedly they refer to it as being like a fiction rather than reality. The war becomes, again, something unthinkable. Using fantasy to reassert the awful reality of the 20th century is a smart piece of defamiliarisation.’ — The Guardian
‘THE VIOLENT CENTURY… may be his best yet: a blistering alt-historical retelling of a 20th century lousy with superheroes.’ — The Guardian, Best SFF of 2013
‘While perhaps not as politically loaded as OSAMA, Tidhar’s THE VIOLENT CENTURY… is no less powerful. He imagines a world where superheroes are real. But while the Americans go for the brash costumes and public displays of power, Tidhar’s British heroes – primarily Oblivion and Fog – operate in the shadows, and bear witness to the major events of the 20th century in what is quite simply a stunning masterpiece.’ — The Independent
‘Vintage Lavie, and also I think his most fully accomplished novel yet. Nobody rides that fast-rolling wave separating schlocky pulp and serious literary sensibilities so deftly as Tidhar. He manages to make serious points about the benighted twentieth-century and its obsession with ‘supermen’ without ever letting the narrative slacken or the adventure pale. If Nietzche had written an X-Men storyline whilst high on mescaline, it might have read something like THE VIOLENT CENTURY.’ — Adam Roberts, author of Jack Glass
‘Good fantasy creates new worlds for us to dream in. Great fantasy, such as THE VIOLENT CENTURY, holds a dark mirror up to these dreams and tests them to the limit… Espionage inhabits a sort of parallel universe. Lavie Tidhar has taken this idea and run with it, creating a sophisticated, moving and gripping take on 20th century conflicts and our capacity for love and hate, honour and betrayal.’ — Daily Mail
‘[a] high stakes tale of friendship and what it ultimately means to truly be a hero… Tidhar has created a book that oozes excellence in both characterisation and storytelling.’ — Huffington Post
‘Something like John le Carré, not as a matter of slavish imitation so much, but rather as an evocation of darkness, idealism turning to exhaustion, and moral ambiguity. The Old Man, Oblivion, Fogg, these are men who have been fighting in the shadows for far too long and whatever sense of right and wrong they started out with is now dangerously suspect… But this is also a novel of alternate history and the world these characters live in is not exactly ours. In fact it may have almost as much in common with the seedy world of Alan Moore’s Watchmen for all of the characters mentioned so far are actually superhuman… It’s hard, but not impossible as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mike Carey and others have shown, to create a morally complex, artistically ambitious story based on characters whose origins are not that far removed from the simplicity of Superman, Spiderman, and their ilk. Tidhar has succeeded brilliantly in this task. THE VIOLENT CENTURY is a masterful example of alternate universe science fiction and can only add to its author’s rapidly growing reputation.’ — Los Angeles Review of Books
‘The level of detail with which Tidhar fills his novel ensures that the events he is using as his setting feel convincing. Like Le Carre’s best novels, the world of espionage isn’t glamorous or exciting; it’s a grim, cold and lonely place. The author does a lot with a relatively minimalist style, and he envelops us in Transylvanian forests with Count Dracula’s transformed descendant and the frozen battleground of Minsk without ever slowing down… it’s impressive how much ground Tidhar covers. At the centre of this is the question, ‘What makes a hero?’ The supermen of Tidhar’s novel are forced to commit terrible acts in the name of the greater good, and stand by and watch as terrible acts are committed for the same reason. As well as being a wonderfully drawn and detailed historical espionage tale, THE VIOLENT CENTURY is ultimately a very human story. It’s gripping, imaginative and, finally, moving.’ — SciFi Now
‘… like Watchmen on crack… the great strength of the book: Tidhar’s examination not of what makes a hero, but how we perceive our heroes… While Tidhar looks at the violent narrative of the twentieth century, he has his eyes firmly planted on how we’ve interpreted the violence in our own real world… There [have] been a number of fantastic novels that have drawn on the mythos of the comic book world, ranging from Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay to Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, but Tidhar’s is probably one of the best prose examinations to really examine the superhero and what they mean…’ — io9.com