Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
WELCOME TO THE LAST OF THE GREAT FLYING CITIES
It’s 9172, YE (Year of the Empire), and the future has forgotten its past.
Soaring miles over the Earth, Autumn, the sole surviving flying city, is filled to the brim with the manifold forms of humankind: from Human Plus “floor models” to the oppressed and disfranchised underclasses doing their dirty work and every imaginable variation between.
Valerius Bakhoum is a washed-up private eye and street hustler scraping by in Autumn. Late on his rent, fetishized and reviled for his imperfect genetics, stuck in the quicksand of his own heritage, Valerius is trying desperately to wrap up his too-short life when a mythical relic of humanity’s fog-shrouded past walks in and hires him to do one last job. What starts out as Valerius just taking a stranger’s money quickly turns into the biggest and most dangerous mystery he’s ever tried to crack – and Valerius is running out of time to solve it.
Now Autumn’s abandoned history – and the monsters and heroes that adorn it – are emerging from the shadows to threaten the few remaining things Valerius holds dear. Can the burned-out detective navigate the labyrinth of lies and maze of blind faith around him to save the City of Autumn from its greatest myth and deadliest threat?
A Fall in Autumn by Michael G. Williams! What a novel! I spent hours swearing about writing this review before I even sat down to the computer. Back and forth over my conflicted feelings about the main character and an ending that I can’t decide is or isn’t in keeping with the personality of Valerius Bakhoum, one of the most complex, least likable, most stumbling and genuine characters in the recent science fiction that I’ve read. Most of the time, I kept thinking while reading, “what a complete and utter bumbling dickwad”. Yep, not usually the thoughts I entertain about my main characters, especially when they are the narrator of their own stories. Even now, I don’t know if I like him or not. I understand him, but like him? Not that he would have cared. Still I don’t know.
But from an almost too loose start, lacking a framework or even remotely a narrative foundation upon which the reader can stand on, this amazing story builds, twists, turns, convulses, and keeps spitting out enough wild details and world building that you gather all the information you need and suddenly Boom! You know this place, the religions, well, as much as you can, because even the residents of the last Great Floating City, they don’t know much about their own history. They know, and some believe it and some don’t, what various churches and religions, governments tell them. Those facts, such as they are, are given to the reader as appropriate places in the narrative too.
I think the plot is brilliant. Right up until the end i was thinking the author had left holes in the exposition and threads dangling. Nope, in a stunning twist, all was tied up and I never saw it coming. More swearing. Damn, not so fumbling after all. Never saw that either.
There is absolutely nothing I can say here that won’t give things away so I won’t. The characterizations are fierce, and complete and in many ways brave on the part of the author. You could make everyone likable, make them beings or people that the readers can easily connect with. Or instead make them so damn fascinating, irritating, or if it pertains human, and flawed, along with a storyline that’s brilliant and gripping that this reader was up until 3am reading until it was over. And then cussing and waking the dogs.
It really deserves a 5 but like Valerius Bakhoum Im just too ornery to go back and change it. It’s something he would appreciate and probably expect. It’s that ending. ….damn it.
If you love science fiction, this is a story you won’t want to miss. No romance, yes, there’s some sex, lots of mystery and suspense. Enough twists and turns for a series. Now I need to see what else this author wrote. Are they all going to be like this? I guess I need to find out ….
I highly recommend you read this and see for yourself what all my cussing is all about!
Cover art: Im as ambivalent about that cove as i am about the character. Because the floating city is loud, noisy, densely populated, and colorful. It’s everything that cover is not. So is the main character. Still it draws you in.
Sales Links: Amazon