Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Bear Head (Head of Zeus, £18.99) is a sequel to his Dogs of War, but perfectly comprehensible – and very exciting – without knowledge of the earlier book. Although it is set in a near future when Mars is being converted into a holiday destination for billionaires, and “bioforms” are engineered from animal stock as intelligent instruments of war, some things are familiar: the chief villain is an American politician even more malevolent than a certain recent ex-president. Narrator Jimmy is something of a bioform himself, having undergone physical modifications to survive his construction job on Mars.
Mars is being terraformed for the rich elite by a breed of genetically modified labourers...
Funny, appalling, gruesome and uplifting, (often at the same time), Bear Head is propelled by a cracking plot that balances dystopian satire with a palpable sense of moral peril.
Honey is on the run from reactionary forces on Earth and is going head to head with President Warner S Thompson, the poster boy of the anti-smart-animals movement. There’s a lot of Trump in Thompson, but no cheap gags; the British writer Adrian Tchaikovsky’s dissection of Thompson’s appeal and ghastly genius is the thoughtful highlight of this unashamedly thrilling escapade. You don’t need to have read Dogs of War to enjoy Bear Head — but why deny yourself the pleasure?