Defenders Paperback – 27 May 2014
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SF of the highest quality . . . Defenders works as a morality tale of mistrust and betrayal on an epic scale (SUN)
Vividly cinematic, at times uncomfortably brutal, and it reads like a runaway train . . . Will McIntosh is one of the brightest stars in science fiction right now . . . If you're not reading him yet, you're missing out (TOR.COM)
McIntosh is without a doubt one of the most underrated science fiction authors writing today. Defenders is an emotional, action-packed story . . . McIntosh's cautionary near-future tale, told from multiple perspectives, serves as a brutally honest portrayal of how humans carelessly exploit, destroy - and in this case create - other species (RT Book Reviews (Top Pick))
What makes Defenders such an incredible novel is McIntosh's pure elegance, the beauty of its simplicity. Each element of the novel, the characters, the situations, the world, the results of the world's actions, organically feed into each other as the novel progresses (SFFWorld)
This military science fiction novel offers fast paced action (Publishers Weekly)
McIntosh's novels often blend unlikely scenarios and genre tropes in ways that make you rethink them. Here he's brought together the classic veterans' "coming home" story with telepathic alien invasion and issues around what it means to have been genetically engineered for one purpose. It's a posthuman scenario that McIntosh is exploring in all its messy complexity (io9.com)
A fascinating take on how political alliances shift over time: One's bosom friend today can be one's deadly enemy tomorrow, and vice versa. McIntosh has his finger on the pulse, again (Kirkus)
When the characters scream "run", you will want to run. When Lila's fear paralyzes her, you won't be able to move. As the story continues the writing only gets better, the plotting only gets tighter, the tension ratchets up again and again and again. Every book I read by McIntosh, the guy just gets more and more amazing in his ability to absolutely shatter me (Little Red Reviewer)
A new epic of alien invasion and human resistance by Hugo Award-winning author Will McIntosh.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Defenders presents the story of mankind's fight for survival through the perspectives of four key individuals - Oliver Bowen, an increasingly important adviser to the American President who finds himself in the unlikely position of being almost a confidante to a captured, tortured Luyten known as Five due to the number of his remaining limbs; Kai Zhou is a child, so recently an orphan, in hiding from the Luyten but whose life one of their number bizarrely saved; Dominique Wiewell is the mother of the Defenders; Lila Easterlin becomes Dominique's protégé, a girl who has great cause to hate and fear the Luyten and is cherished by the Defenders.
All of them will have cause to re-evaluate their feelings towards both Luyten and Defender. All of them will experience the absolute terror that both Luyten and Defender inflict. There is a moment in the novel when Lila and a group of emissaries see a Luyten coming towards them. Each of them turns and runs. There's no explanation to the reader, no time for thinking, they turn on their heels and they run for their lives. This was one of the many moments in Defenders when I knew I was reading a book I won't forget. Another is when Lila hugs her Defender `Special Friend' Eric and he cries, wishing he had a mother. By contrast, there is the scene when a Defender is acting on stage and rips a man's guts out for laughing (at something else entirely) during his great speech.
The novel moves through years of struggle, one threat replaced by another, old enemies rehabilitated though torturous overtures, suspicion of all rife, everyone deeply frightened though years of violence, misunderstandings, carelessness. The reader doesn't expect to feel sympathy for a Luyten anymore than he or she might be expected to shed a tear for a Defender, but such is the power of Will McIntosh's writing there's a good chance that the reader will do just that.
Death is random, fear is constant.
The depiction of the relationship between humans and their created Defenders is fascinating but for me the highlight is the relationship between humans and Luytens. I think this is extraordinary. The difficulties of communicating can only make matters worse but when Luytens do try and talk to humans how far can they be believed? How far can humans be believed? The opening third of the novel makes it plain how aggressive these aliens are. Billions of humans are slaughtered. Can this harm be forgiven? Should it? Who is to blame is a major question of Defenders and our answer to it may shift and crumble repeatedly though these marvellous pages.
It is impossible for me to do justice to Defenders. Packed into its 500 pages is an explosion of drama, emotion, action, pain, thrills and questions - questions about who we are as people and our prejudices or acts of cruelty against the unfamiliar (expressed here in a Defender's matter of fact explanation of why humans made Defenders with three legs not two). Last year I was captivated by Will's Love Minus Eighty, an emotional mix of clever science fiction with social satire, and as a result Defenders was a priority read for me. I started it the day it was published as an ebook (ahead of its paperback release next week) and, despite its length, I finished it the next day.
Defenders is a stunning book and, without doubt, it is my favourite first contact novel. It is not only thrilling and exhilarating, it's painful and moving, extremely clever and rewarding, full of ideas and populated by characters you can't help caring for and feeling for, even those you feel you shouldn't. What a writer! More, please!
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