The most compelling British books set in the near-future

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing my eighth novel, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, I had to move the story into the future in order to explore the topics I was trying to understand. I think through writing: sometimes I feel it is only through writing that I really engage with the world. Work on Jessie Lamb entailed a lot of scientific and future research, and after that I read more and more future fiction, with an increasing appetite for the work of writers who are really interested in exploring where we are headed as a species, and how we might try to survive the damage we have inflicted on the earth.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Testament of Jessie Lamb

What is my book about?

Women are dying in their millions. Some blame scientists, some see the hand of God, some see human arrogance reaping the punishment it deserves. Jessie Lamb is an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times: as her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her towards the ultimate act of heroism. If the human race is to survive, it’s up to her.

Set just a month or two in the future, in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism, The Testament of Jessie Lamb explores a young woman’s determination to make her life count for something, as the certainties of her childhood are ripped apart.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of When the Lights Go Out

Jane Rogers Why did I love this book?

I love this book for its humour in the face of catastrophe.

As the rain falls and the floods rise, Chris sees his mission as to warn humanity of the impending terrors of the climate emergency. His wife Emma meanwhile tries to keep their home and family fed, safe and happy.

An incurable optimist, she finds Chris’ behaviour both pointless and faintly ridiculous. And when he takes to switching off the electricity in order to teach her to be more self-sufficient, she’s less than pleased.

What I really admire is the way Carys tackles the serious topic of climate breakdown with wry humour, generating sympathy for both partners and drawing us into each one’s point of view. 

By Carys Bray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Lights Go Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_________________________
'This is a powerful and truthful story about hope and how to find it' THE TIMES

'Wry, beautifully written . . . it works on many levels' DAILY MAIL

'Bray's satire shines with observation and subtlety' GUARDIAN

'She writes with a quiet formidable brilliance. Her observations on relationships are acute, painful and extremely funny. This is a gem of a book.' EMILY MAITLIS
_________________________
Global temperatures are rising.
The climate of the Abrams' marriage is cooling.

Emma is beginning to wonder whether relationships, like mortgages, should be conducted in five-year increments. She might laugh if Chris had bought a…


Book cover of Salt Lick

Jane Rogers Why did I love this book?

I came across Salt Lick when hunting for novels on the topic of climate breakdown.

I was looking for writers who go beyond the doom and gloom, to find either rays of hope or at the very least a story where life and love might survive. For me, hope was an essential element in Jessie Lamb’s story. And in Salt Lick, Allison does deliver a dogged kind of hope for her strange trio of wandering central characters.

Beyond that, she delivers bewitchingly beautiful prose; her first page is a masterclass in description.

By Lulu Allison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Salt Lick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

'A compelling fable of decline, a lament for a way of life, and a warning about what society is already becoming. It is a capsule of England and its dystopian present ... as sad and angry as it is memorable' Ronan Hession

'Salt Lick is that rare beast - imaginative, risky storytelling where every sentence is a gift' Heidi James

Britain is awash, the sea creeps into the land, brambles and forest swamp derelict towns. Food production has moved overseas and people are forced to move to the cities for work. The countryside…


Book cover of Never Let Me Go

Jane Rogers Why did I love this book?

I met Ish many years ago, when we were both promoting our first novels on a Faber tour. I love his work and have read everything he’s written.

But Never Let Me Go is the one that haunts me, for its understated grief and the way it reminds us of what it is to be human, and to face death, in an all-too-plausible and heart-breaking future scenario. 

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Never Let Me Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most acclaimed novels of the 21st Century, from the Nobel Prize-winning author

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense…


Book cover of The Chrysalids

Jane Rogers Why did I love this book?

I’ve adapted a lot of books for radio, and The Chrysalids is outstanding among them. It’s a gift for radio, as radio is the one medium where telepathy can be convincingly portrayed, by a simple change of acoustic effects.

I loved it before I adapted it, for the clear and engaging first-person narrator, and for the brilliance of its story; genetic mutation has devastated the world, and mutants are ruthlessly hunted down and destroyed. Then a group of children is born with telepathic powers - in the eyes of their families and friends, yet another kind of mutation. But for the children, a power that fosters community and hope. 

By John Wyndham,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Chrysalids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the community of Waknut it is believed mutants are the products of the Devil and must be stamped out. When David befriends a girl with a slight abnormality, he begins to understand the nature of fear and oppression. When he develops his own deviation, he must learn to conceal his secret.


Book cover of The Rapture

Jane Rogers Why did I love this book?

Here’s another novel about ecological catastrophe, but with the addition of a violent and delusional female prophet, who predicts the very dates upon which disasters will occur. I had been meaning to read Jensen for years, but was finally reminded to by discovering that she is a fellow member of Extinction Rebellion.

I was completely gripped by The Rapture, which managed to be unpredictable right to the very end. For once, I honestly can’t say better than The Daily Mail: A gripping tale of love, death and religion, set in the not-too-distant future… deliciously apocalyptic and jammed full of ideas, this is storytelling at its rapturous best.

By Liz Jensen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rapture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a merciless summer of biblical heat and destructive winds, Gabrielle Fox's main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her career as a psychologist after a shattering car accident. But when she is assigned Bethany Krall, one of the most dangerous teenagers in the country, she begins to fear she has made a terrible mistake. Raised on a diet of evangelistic hellfire, Bethany is violent, delusional, cruelly intuitive and insistent that she can foresee natural disasters - a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion. But when catastrophes begin to occur on the very dates Bethany…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


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