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Europe in Autumn Paperback – 13 Feb 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris (13 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781081956
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781081952
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.1 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Dave Hutchinson's Europe in Autumn, presents a near-future Europe fractured into hundreds of nations or "polities", each with its own strictly controlled border. The Les Coureurs des Bois is a shady organisation which delivers packages, and sometimes people, across these borders. Estonian chef Rudi, working in Krakow when the novel opens, is drawn into the organisation and finds himself embroiled in ever more complex situations. Hutchinson draws a convincing picture of a fragmented continent - he's especially good at describing the industrial wasteland of the former Poland - as Rudi finds his life under threat. Unable to trust anyone, especially Les Coureurs, Rudi attempts to work out who wants him dead, and why. The author's authoritative prose, intimate knowledge of eastern Europe, and his fusion of Kafka with Len Deighton, combine to create a spellbinding novel of intrigue and paranoia." --The Guardian

"One of the most sophisticated science fiction novels of the decade: a tour-de-force debut, pacey, startlingly prescient, and possessed of a lively wit that never fails to convince and charm its readers." --LA Review Of Books

About the Author

Dave Hutchinson was born in Sheffield in 1960. After reading American Studies at the University of Nottingham, he became a journalist. He s the author of five collections of short stories and one novel, and his novella The Push was shortlisted for the 2010 BSFA award for short fiction. He has also edited two anthologies and co-edited a third. His short story The Incredible Exploding Man featured in the first Solaris Rising anthology, and appeared in the 29th Year s Best Science Fiction collection. He lives in north London with his wife and several cats.


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Starts out as a sort of espionage thriller set in an odd future of a Europe fragmented into "countries" which vary in size from four blocks of flats to what appears to be most of Germany, including a seceded Scotland but also large blanks like anything outside Eastern Europe. We follow the life of Rudi a sometime cook subverted to a Coureur du Bois, an oddly named organisation which transfers things and people from one place to another with no apparent purpose. He goes back to his home in Estonia where his father begins a movement to make a "polity" of an ancient forest straddling the border with Poland; this ends bloodily and he is rescued by English intelligence, why is never explained but the plot ambles on with him wandering around a seemingly unchanged London and he is allowed to disappear, smuggled across the border to Scotland. Thereafter the story changes abruptly into the search for access to an alternative universe and, after an episode in Prague, travels back to the forest to successfully smuggle people from the Community, the other universe. It then ends with Rudi giving a warning that more is to come. It is well written, gives a good picture of a run-down Poland and the paranoia of spies which could have been in this time line together with the great idea of a transcontinental railway that appears to build itself and then declares itself a country, together with razor wire fences and its own "Checkpoint Charlie". The tale also includes invisibility cloaks like Harry Potter, computers made of cloth and portable computers whose batteries last for weeks without recharge. It all shows a great imagination and I enjoyed reading it but it cannot allay the feeling that it was a waste of time and talent when so little is explained.
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Format: Paperback
You know those people who won’t read science fiction because they think it’s all overblown space opera and little green men? They’re wrong. This is the book that will prove to them once and for all that they’re wrong. I’m a sci-fi nut, and even I had to admit to having doubts as to whether the ‘science fiction’ label on the back was appropriate for what appeared to be a spy-thriller, albeit an exceptionally literary one, but by the time I realised it was correct, I had reached the end and genre was irrelevant. What mattered was that I didn’t want the book to end, and was furious when it did. There needs to be a sequel, and quickly.

Le Carré is referenced within the text, and quite rightly. I haven’t read his books for a long time, but I used to devour them and felt on home ground with this novel as a result – but Le Carré never wrote anything quite like this.

The story is told from the point of view of Estonian chef Rudi who is recruited, not as a spy, but into the equally secretive ‘Les Coureurs des Bois’, an organisation that transports ‘packages’ – which could be anything from messages in one form or another to actual people – across borders. Europe at this point is full of borders, more and more of them appearing all the time as countries break up into smaller states and ‘polities’, making international communication increasingly difficult.

The story is told in a series of episodes, with links and hints and a fabulously rich texture that means it begs to be re-read the moment you finish. After just two back-to-back readings, I’m dying to get back into it to pick up some of the deeper layers which I’m sure I’ve missed.

Depth, richness – makes it sound like a heavy read, but it isn’t remotely.
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By D. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
This book demonstrates the value of perserverence. For me, reading was like being on a rollercoaster. The premise - near future Europe has fractured into scores of microstates, borders have appeared everywhere and a shadowy organisation, thrives, smuggling people and goods across them - was inspired, and the writing excellent. The central character, Rudi, is mysterious and sympatheic.

Yet by page 100, I was almost nodding off. I just couldn't get into the book. Nothing seemed to be happening. There was lots of spycraft and plenty of peril - but precious little motivation. Why did these people bother? Where was it all going? I actually put the book aside for a few weeks, and only came back to it because I real;ly don't like to leave a book half finished.

I am so glad I did. In the second half, the story really takes off. the peril is cranked up, threats emerge and Rudi - the mild manered chef who, all through the first part, I felt should have stayed in his kitchen - emerges as a daring and driven agent. The plot puts out shoots and suckers in all directions like some killer vine, rapidly turning from a tech(ish), noir(ish) thrillery thing to a truly science fictional and mind boggling book. That second half give sit just the bump it needs to be a truly gripping story. What's more, it's an unusual story whose roots in the contestested nationalities of middle Europe make it refreshingly different, peering in, as it does, form outside at the oddities of little England.

So, in the end, a satisfying read, which really pleased me. I think the book does have some structural problems - it's not that long, so the more pacy second half is rather too short and Hutchinson therefore has to pass rapidly over some situations and plot developments that could have done with more space. And I fear that others will not get past that first part. So four stars rather than 5, and I hope a sequel is in the works.
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