The Smoke

Titan. Jan. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781785659225. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781785659232. SF
The Great War caused a division in humankind: the bombs created the chickies—deformed, highly sexual, base people—while the "immortality ray" conceived the Bund: intelligent, beautiful, and technologically advanced individuals. With these distinct species of humanity, the race is on to leave the planet and its impending clashes. After breaking up with his long-term girlfriend Fel, Stuart Lanyon has been staying with his dad in a town in Yorkshire filled with spaceship-parts factories. He finally heads back to the ostentatious city of London to do a final clean of the apartment he and Fel shared and to pursue memories of how their relationship ended. Stuart is a standard-issue human; Fel is a Bund. It was obvious to Stuart that he was just a dalliance, because Bunds could never love regular humans, could they? With varying perspectives and time lines, this complex work takes on mortality and prejudice through the lens of emotional connection.
VERDICT Ings (Wolves) crafts smart alternate history that takes a deep look at belief systems and the judgment of others based on perception. The use of genetic manipulation to create superior and lesser human species speaks to the bias that exists in the real world.

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