Adam Roberts
BÍte Cover

Possibly my favorite book of 2014


What it's about: Animal activists chip animals with sapience software, which results in a global rise of vegetarianism, cow-owned farms, and landmark legal battles to assess the personhood of animals. While the world changes and the economy collapses around him, former farmer Graham wanders the countryside, stripped of his value, battling the beast within.

Why it's excellent: There is more to this misleadingly simple-sounding novel, and Roberts balances it beautifully. It is dark, funny, thoughtful, smart, but also quite moving and poignant--very human--all without being overly sentimental or emotionally manipulative like a lot of popular SF fiction. And with just enough weird to feel fresh and captivating. I keep comparing it to Stapledon, but with more heart and humor.

Why I think it's not getting the attention it deserves: It's not a silly parody and maybe people expect it to be a silly parody. Maybe it's blurbed incorrectly; it's not really like Animal Farm, it's not even like Watership Down. Maybe carnivores are afraid this is Roberts' Morrissey moment. (It's really not. His approach is much less direct.) Maybe judging panels aren't seeing the big picture when they read this (because they seem to prefer sentimental post-apoc trope-mash). Maybe overexposure, because promoting a well-known critic from The Guardian seems like an improper thing to do. (Am I stereotyping British propriety? I'm probably stereotyping.) Maybe because of the publication lag between continents. I really have no idea because more people should be blown away by this novel.