A dazzling new science fiction novel from the multiple award winning author of SOMETHING COMING THROUGH
The great geoengineering projects have failed.
The world is still warming, sea levels are still rising, and the Antarctic Peninsula is home to Earth's newest nation, with life quickened by ecopoets spreading across valleys and fjords exposed by the retreat of the ice.
Austral Morales Ferrado, a child of the last generation of ecopoets, is a husky: an edited person adapted to the unforgiving climate of the far south, feared and despised by most of its population. She's been a convict, a corrections officer in a labour camp, and consort to a criminal, and now, out of desperation, she has committed the kidnapping of the century. But before she can collect the ransom and make a new life elsewhere, she must find a place of safety amongst the peninsula's forests and icy plateaus, and evade a criminal gang that has its own plans for the teenage girl she's taken hostage.
Blending the story of Austral's flight with the fractured history of her family and its role in the colonisation of Antarctica, Austral is a vivid portrayal of a treacherous new world created by climate change, and shaped by the betrayals and mistakes of the past.
'Paul McAuley's balanced grasp of science and literature, always a rare attribute in the writer of prose fiction, is combined with the equally rare ability to look at today's problems and know which are really problems, and what can be done about them.' William Gibson
Paul McAuley won the PHILIP K. DICK AWARD for his first novel and has gone on to win the ARTHUR C. CLARKE, SIDEWISE, BRITISH FANTASY and JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARDs. He gave up his position as a research biologist to write full time. He lives in London.
It is one of the best post-climate change novels yet written - and one of McAuley's best books. — SFX MAGAZINE
Austral combines a solid science scenario with a taught thriller in an all too plausible future. For an SF reader, or indeed any reader that considers matters beyond the day after tomorrow, what is there not to like? — CONCATENATION
An exquisite human story set on an undiscovered continent of our near future.
Austral may be McAuley's best yet. And the best near-future novel yet written.
Paul McAuley has quickened science fiction. The future has changed.
— Stephen Baxter
The excitement of a new country appearing right here on Earth, a real possibility that is quite fascinating in itself, is doubled down here by way of a thrilling kidnap-and-rescue plot that ranges across this beautiful new landscape, showing how we will soon be not only terraforming Earth, but finding new ways to take care of each other. It's a vivid example of science fiction at its best. — Kim Stanley Robinson, author of RED MARS
Oh boy, it's a good one. A cracking setup; great writing; great pacing; a genuinely fresh narrative voice, and for once - hooray! - a male author writing a complex, first-person female narrator who is neither a broflake's wet-dream, nor a wooden stereotype. Austral is big, strong, powerful, and yet with real vulnerabilities; a flawed and relatable heroine with agency, feelings and spirit. And to cap it all, Austral is fat - genetically edited to be fat in a way that enhances her strength and endurance, and in the context of her race, is only ever mentioned as a positive. Halleluia. It can be done. — Joanne Harris, author of THE GOSPEL OF LOKI
Bleakly beautiful, Austral is both a finely-honed character study and a powerful evocation of landscape and change, delivered with icy clarity. This is the kind of fiction we will need as the Anthropocene takes hold. — Alastair Reynolds