Having already made the final shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award with his SF novels Eternal Light
and Pasquale's Angel
, Paul McAuley finally won this coveted prize with Fairyland
. The title's hint of fey fantasy is blackly ironic: this is a streetwise cyberpunk future, replete with gene-hacking, instant designer drugs, and mind-warping viruses that function as "love bugs" or "loyalty plagues". One spinoff of genetic tailoring is a slave race of blue-fleshed "dolls", modified baboons made bright enough to do society's dirty jobs--until they're liberated by the unholy alliance of an idealistic child prodigy and a biologically savvy nerd, boosting them to thinking, evolving, breeding "fairies". And indeed the night becomes full of unwholesome magic and fanged terrors again, as this new race steps into the old mythological niche of the dark elves, attacking venomously from the trees and setting up their private fairyland in the decayed remains of a certain Magic Kingdom outside Paris... Though occasionally obscure and not quite plausible in all its plot details, Fairyland
is a creepily effective nightmare of a world becoming increasingly chaotic under the stress of runaway biotechnologies, excessively deadly toys in the hands of people with no more common sense than children. Vivid and viscerally compelling. --David Langford
--This text refers to an alternate
When gene hacker Alex Sharkey helps a super-smart girl turn a genetically-engineered doll into a new species he accidentally gives history a dangerous shove.