The book is set in a near-future England which has been ostracised by the rest of the world following widespread civil disorder and the collapse of government. People are surviving, despite the frequent missile attacks launched by the so-called International Community which are intended to improve the situation but only make it worse. A semblance of societal order remains, not least in one small southern town called Downbourne, where the book’s hero, Fen Morris, a schoolteacher, lives with his wife Moira.
Fen and Moira are undergoing severe marital difficulties, which they do their best to hide from the rest of the townspeople. Then Downbourne is invaded by a marauding band of Londoners called the British Bulldogs. They’ve come to kick arse and kidnap womenfolk — and one of the womenfolk they kidnap is Moira. After some soul-searching, Fen sets off after her, and what follows is a picaresque tale, with pitfalls and pratfalls and moments of serenity and moments of trauma, as Fen travels across a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown and discovers all sorts of things about the nature of dominance and the dominance of nature.
It’s a good book. I like it.
- Untied Kingdom [Gollancz hbk, April 2003] – ISBN 978-0575073852
- Untied Kingdom [Gollancz tpbk, April 2003] – ISBN 978-0575073869
- Untied Kingdom [Gollancz pbk, January 2004] – ISBN 978-0575074484
- Royaume Desuni [Bragelonne (French ed.) March 2008] – ISBN 9782352941552
- “One of the most interesting and adventurous British SF writers… James Lovegrove has become to the 21st century what JG Ballard was to the 20th… this story of how the UK is torn apart by bad political decisions and ostracised from the world community is both topical and cautionary” – The Bookseller
- “[one] of the hottest UK writers to emerge in recent years… Lovegrove’s impeccable prose and vivid imagination puts him at the forefront of British SF” – Michael Rowley, Waterstone’s Books Quarterly
- “James Lovegrove has deservedly become a force to be reckoned with in British fantasy literature… Untied Kingdom is simply a brilliant book, and anyone after an intelligent fantasy novel would do well to take note of Lovegrove’s obvious talent… a superior and superlative piece of fantasy, 9/10″ – Sharon Gosling, Dreamwatch
- “intended as a homage to the post-apocalyptic tales of fellow Brits John Wyndham and John Christopher [this book] succeeds magnificently… beautifully written and a joy to read… Lovegrove makes creative use of diverse vocabulary and has a distinctive command of rich, vivid storytelling. I highly recommend Untied Kingdom” – John Snider, scifidimensions.com
- “[a] science-fiction tour de force” – Sunday Mercury, Birmingham
- “a subtle and deft tale of collapse, a carefully crafted story of descent into a barbaric future… This is a very well thought-out novel, with some elegant and pin-point writing. Above all, it is a brilliant portrayal of the adjustments needed to live with upheaval and its often harsh realities, as illustrated by the intimate, the personal” – Keith Brooke, infinity plus
- “a highly competent addition to the canon of English disaster novels, [the book] packs genuine satirical punch” – Nick Gevers, Locus
- “Lovegrove’s near future imaginings about a Britain in decline are superb… a frightening, you-never-know-it-could-just-happen setting and one delivered skilfully… an impressive addition to the canon of post-disaster Britain novels. It makes for great reading. A definite four stars out of five.” – John Berlyne, sfrevu.com
- “Untied Kingdom is a marvellous book, perhaps even a contender for one of the SF novels of the year. It’s tightly plotted, with well-drawn characters and a strong undercurrent of humour … the pace never lets up. Indeed, Untied Kingdom is one of the few recent books that I wished was longer … an engaging and hugely enjoyable novel … I’d be amazed if Untied Kingdom doesn’t make it onto several ‘best of’ and awards shortlists at the end of the year. This is the first book I’ve read this year that I can unequivocally recommend to everyone reading Vector.” — Mark Greener, Vector
- “… prophetically frightening… an amusing and excellent read which left me a tiny bit worried. Maybe a little too timely for comfort” – The Morning Star
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• Filed under Books • 08/04/2003 •