Tony Ballantyne's Dream London was published by Solaris Books in October 2013.
Information about Tony Ballantyne:
Tony Ballantyne is the author of Twisted Metal, Blood and Iron and the Recursion series. He has also written many short stories. Tony grew up in County Durham in the North East of England. He studied Maths at Manchester University before moving to London where he taught Maths and IT. His first SF sale was 'The Sixth VNM' which appeared in Interzone 138. Since then he has had short stories appear in magazines and anthologies worldwide. He has also written romantic fiction and satirical pieces for various magazines such as Private Eye. Recursion, his first novel, was published by Tor UK in 2004. He has been nominated for the BSFA and Philip K. Dick awards. He now lives in Oldham with his wife and two children. His hobbies are playing the piano, accordion and cornet. He also enjoys walking and cycling.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about Dream London:
In Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day.
Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage by the bucketful. He's adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He's the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world, and he knows it.
But the towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the East End and a path spiralling down to another world.
Everyone is changing, no one is who they seem to be, and Captain Jim Wedderburn is beginning to understand that he's not the man he thought he was...
A REVIEW OF TONY BALLANTYNE'S DREAM LONDON
Tony Ballantyne's Dream London is a delightfully gritty new weirdish urban fantasy book. It's one of the freshest and most exciting takes on urban fantasy I've had a pleasure to read, because it's a thrilling combination of science fiction, fantasy and new weird elements. It's a refreshingly original book that differs quite a lot from several other urban fantasy books.
I'm a bit difficult to please when it comes to urban fantasy. Urban fantasy can be fun to read, but normally too many urban fantasy books are boring and tend to recycle the same stories etc, so they're not my kind of books. Fortunately there are books like Dream London out there that feel like a breath of fresh air, because they differ from the normal urban fantasy books.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
Captain Jim Wedderburn is asked by the Cartel to find out what's going on in Dream London and why the places change every night. Soon things become even more interesting, because he is asked to work for the Daddio... This is the beginning of a weird story that will keep you turning pages until you've reached the last page.
Before I write anything else, it's good to say that if you thought that you knew everything about London, you can forget all the things you know, because this book offers you a totally new kind of vision of London. Things are different in Dream London, because it's a twisted and skewed version of the real London.
Tony Ballantyne draws the reader into the world of Dream London from the first chapter and keeps on delivering surprises and plot twists along the way. The journey towards the end is filled with memorable characters and unique visions of a different kind of London that is gradually changing shape.
The protagonist of Dream London is James "Jim" Wedderburn and the story is told from his point of view. He's a former soldier, an anti-hero and a pimp, and he also seems to be a good guy, so he's a complex character. He's handsome and women like him. He's clearly himself and doesn't try to be anything else. He has his own view of the world.
The other characters are wonderfully weird and memorable, which is nice, because they spice up the story. For example, Alphonse/Alan is an unforgettable character that will stick to the reader's mind. I'm sure that such things as the flowerboys, giant salamanders and other similar things will also be difficult to forget.
I have to mention separately that the foulmouthed child, Honey Peppers, was an unforgettable character. It isn't often that you have a chance to read about a six year old child who is as foulmouthed as Honey Peppers and isn't afraid of shouting obscenities to other people. I'm sure that everybody who reads this book won't be able to forget her.
I also liked reading about Mr. Monagan, because he was a frog man. He's one of the most interesting characters I've read about in urban fantasy books. I have to congratulate the author for being able to create such a diverse cast of characters.
I loved the weird and a bit unsettling atmosphere in this book (it hooked me fast). I also liked the grittiness very much, because it added a touch of realism to the otherwise surreal story. In my opinion the author easily creates the right kind of atmosphere and steadily builds the tension and weirdness as the climax approaches. I'm not going to write anything about the climax, but I can say that it's worth waiting for.
One of the best things about Dream London is that Tony Ballantyne manages to keep the story intriguing and knows how to move the story forward by revealing new things to the reader. His descriptions of the happenings are fluent and he even has a nice sarcastic edge to his prose.
What makes Dream London an especially interesting book is that Tony Ballantyne refers to real places and has changed them in an intriguing way. The buildings have suddenly grown taller and small and the park areas have also changed. The author has lots of imagination, because he has created a twisted version of London where places change at regular intervals (every night). Dream London changes people too, but not as fast as the buildings. The trees and flowers also change. The changing landscapes add fantastic strangeness to the storyline, because some areas prosper while others seem to fade away and decay.
Dream London reminded me slightly of the novels by China Miéville and Neil Gaiman. There were a few moments when Felix Gilman's Ararat books also came to my mind, but I have to mention that this book is totally different from them.
Dream London was the first book I read from Tony Ballantyne, but it won't be the last one. I intend to read his science fiction books, because I liked Dream London very much (it was refreshing and fun to read something totally different for a change). Based on this book I can say that Tony Ballantyne is a talented author who has plenty of imagination.
I have to mention that the cover art image by Joey Hi-Fi looks great. It's a perfect cover image for this book.
If you're looking for something different and are interested in urban fantasy and new weirdish books, Dream London will be of interest to you. It's a fast paced book that offers lots of entertainment. It can be recommended to both newcomers and experienced readers.
I can recommend Tony Ballantyne's Dream London to all readers who are interested in good urban fantasy and new weirdish fantasy, because it's an imaginative journey through new weirdish landscapes. This wildly imaginative urban fantasy book will captivate you with its weirdness.
Fascinating new weirdish urban fantasy!