BSFA Shortlist Review: Europe in Autumn by David Hutchinson

europeinautumn Europe in Autumn by David Hutchinson

Setting: Near-future Europe, a balkanized mess of ineffectual and often short-lived mini-states, including an anarchist neighborhood in Potsdam, and a sovereign transcontinental railroad.

Summary: An underground system of Coureur messengers do the complicated dirty work of trespassing the numerous physical, digital, and bureaucratic boundaries to maintain communication and crime networks. Rudi, an Estonian restaurant cook living in Poland, gets a taste of the Coureur lifestyle and becomes enmeshed in the underground world, building Legends and Stringers, while uncovering the most underground secret of all.

Synopsis quote:

The Union had struggled into the twenty-first century and managed to survive in some style for a few more years of bitching and infighting and cronyism. Then it had spontaneously begun to throw off progressively smaller and crazier nation-states, like a sunburned holidaymaker shedding curls of skin…

Officially, [the European Union] still existed, but it existed in scattered bits and pieces, like Burger King franchises, mainly in England and Poland and Spain and Belgium… [Loc. 425]

Flavor quote:

In Rudi’s opinion, whoever had set up the Coureurs had overdosed on late twentieth century espionage fiction. Coureur operational jargon…sounded like something from a John le Carre novel. [Loc. 713]

Moment of prescience: Coincided with last year’s Scottish Independence referendum.

How it feels: Grounded, but imaginative. Complex, but full of dry funnies. The protag is stiff and unaffected, while the peripheral characters sometimes steal the show. Not a book for people who want emotional, character-driven content. Not suspenseful, but uncertain-y. This is more about exploring the continent, getting the feeling of something bigger, yet intangible, going on. Lonely Planet with a stiff upper lip.

SF literary sibling: Mieville’s The City and the City, but with European sightseeing.

Irrelevant observation: The story is way better than the cover.

Future status: Ends on a cliffhanger, sequel in progress.

Should you read this? Yes. Yes, you should read this.

*The UK version lists the author as Dave Hutchinson, while the US version lists him as David Hutchinson. IT’S LIKE HE’S AS SHADY AS HIS CHARACTER!

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This is part of an 8-part review series on the 2014 British Science Fiction Association Best Novel Shortlist. The winner will be announced at the BSFA ceremony at Eastercon on Sunday, April 5.

Upcoming BSFA Shortlist Review: The Race by Nina Allan

 

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21 thoughts on “BSFA Shortlist Review: Europe in Autumn by David Hutchinson

  1. “Irrelevant observation: The story is way better than the cover.” No Border Can Hold Him!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds interesting. Also hate that blurb. Really like the format of this review though.

    Like

  3. shanadubois says:

    I had heard a lot about it and then it slipped my mind to seek it out. Thanks for the reminder!

    Like

    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      Glad for it! I hope more people pick up this book. I haven’t seen it come up much in my review circles and I think Hutchinson deserves more attention.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Widdershins says:

    That cover says nothing … except that Hannibal Lecter might be in it! 🙂
    What do you think the odds are of it carrying off the gong?

    Like

    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      All I know is I heard great things about the book first, and then I saw the cover and immediately thought, “My god, that is a total chick-deterrent. I would never touch that on sight alone.”

      …which is something I hate to say because it’s so gendered to think that way, but all I can think is that cover was totally marketed for bros, and lame bros at that.

      I hope Solaris give Hutchinson a better cover next time around. I don’t know how I would do it… maps, a train, passports. Anything but psychedelic bro face.

      Like

  5. […] BSFA Shortlist Review: Europe in Autumn by David […]

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  6. […] BSFA Shortlist Reviews: Europe in Autumn by David Hutchinson The Race by Nina […]

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  9. […] BSFA Shortlist Reviews: Europe in Autumn by David Hutchinson The Race by Nina Allan Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge The Moon King by […]

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  10. […] BSFA Shortlist Reviews: Europe in Autumn by David Hutchinson The Race by Nina Allan Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge The Moon King by […]

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  11. […] Correction: It was just released! Super stoked for Hutchinson and North after the disappointing BSFA results! Mandel’s is a fresh take on a old story, but […]

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  12. […] for recent fiction, people who have not yet read Wolves by Simon Ings, The Race by Nina Allan, and Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson are missing out. The ongoing politics of SF fandom overshadows truly excellent, […]

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  13. […] haven’t read, but got huge internet buzz), Dave Hutchinson’s Europe in Autumn (which From Couch to Moon loved, which is enough for me), and Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August […]

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  14. […] the only one who, just over a year ago, clapped the cover shut on Dave Hutchinson’s underdog hit, Europe in Autumn, with no expectation of a sequel. Or rather, I had hoped there would not be a sequel, despite the […]

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  15. […] the reviews of Europe in Autumn at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased and From Couch to Moon disabused me of the first notion. And a check on his entry in the ISFDB.org would have disabused me […]

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  16. […] reviewed the earlier books in the trilogy-turned-tetralogy-turned-??? here and […]

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