Behind the veil

By Jo Anderton (2012), Angry Robot
This review was originally published in COSMOS Magazine, issue 50.

It took some time to convince me that Jo Anderton’s trilogy, The Veiled Worlds, was science fiction rather than fantasy.

With its heavy steampunk elements, the story’s sophisticated science can often be mistaken for magic – Arthur C. Clarke’s third law in action, perhaps.

Second in the series, Suited continues the story of Tanyana, once an elite architect of ‘pions’, particles that hold her world together and can be shaped into – well, anything – by those with skill. But a suspicious accident robs Tanyana of her gifts, and forces her to become a collector of ‘debris’.

Debris seems to be the antimatter to pions’ matter, pulling the universe apart with devastating results if not contained. In Suited, Tanyana begins to uncover the mysteries of how these particles and her special debris-collecting suit work, and who caused her accident and why – all while navigating trust, betrayal, unexpected news and even love.

Anderton’s take on steampunk is truly unique, with an Eastern European setting rather than the now-overused British backdrop, and tech of her own invention instead of clock gears and corsets. Add a sympathetic character with some big decisions on her plate, and a fast-paced writing style, and you have some great new sci-fi for your bedside table.