Review of ‘Europe at Dawn’ by Dave Hutchinson

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Unlike most clever dick SF ‘comedy’, this book is actually funny, because the author understands all too well that humour comes from humanity (clue in the name there) as well as wit. Thus, the painful travails of Alice as she negotiates life in the newly independent Scotland’s Estonian embassy while trying to find a decent lunch have way more impact than some of the wacky space stuff I’ve read. The novel as a whole grips like this, and it’s a mark of the writer’s skill that it does since there are references to elements from previous books, including the climax, which you won’t get if you haven’t read them. There are also lacerating political insights, particularly around the plight of refugees stranded for generations on an island in the Mediterranean, washing up against the walls of a xenophobic Europe more concerned with its own petty nationalisms than a long-term solution to climate-driven mass-migration. This element of the novel is the most powerful, and features in just one sequence because the rest of the arcs need to be wrapped up. They kind of are, in an ambiguous, quietly despairing way that reflects the fact that the protagonists and the Great Game they play have become one and the same, for a purpose that is never quite clear.

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