Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Touch, by Claire North

I greatly enjoyed last year's The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Harry August has an unusual experience of consciousness: every time he dies, he is reborn again and has the chance to re-live his life from the beginning. It really blew me away, with its alternate histories intersecting with some harsh questions of how much difference one person could make to the development of science and society in the twentieth century, and whether that would be a good thing. I thought it very well handled, and told with a strong emotional voice. I didn't blog about it here when I read it (in December 2014) because I was one of the Clarke judges and was maintaining radio silence on submissions; but we shortlisted it, it also made the BSFA shortlist, and won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Touch also features a narrator who experiences consciousness differently, through having the ability to take possession of someone else's body simply through skin contact. Set in our contemporary world, there is a whole sub-culture and underground economy of people renting out their bodies to such "ghosts", along with "estate agents" who broker those arrangements. But there are also those who want to stamp out the ghosts - or at least our narrator - whatever the collateral damage, and unravelling the conspiracy while staying alive is the key driver of the plot. The book begins with an assassination in Istanbul, and climaxes at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, taking in various parts of Europe en route, all well sketched with a good sense of location and culture. I really liked it and I suspect it will be on my Hugo nomination list and my BSFA second round vote.
Tags: bookblog 2016, hugos 2016, writer: claire north
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