Colin Harvey reviews Osama

Colin Harvey reviews Osama:

Osama is written in an elliptical tone reminiscent of Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stories; Tidhar describes the minutae of coffee, cigarettes and clothes, but omits exposition, instead creating a narrative tension through the reader’s need to puzzle out the background; as Joe wonders what the World Trade Centre is, Tidhar starts to explain his alternate world, but slowly, slowly, and always by allusion. Rather like the protagonist, the reader is left with the sense that “The…writer was leaving…a trail of crumbs to follow” (p.120).

As the novel progresses, it becomes ever more Dickian, as Joe slips between realities, alongside the refugee ‘ghosts’ that he glimpses from the corner of his eye. In the novel’s clearest homage to The Man in the High Castle, Joe undergoes a reality slip that echoes Mr. Tagomi’s, visiting what appears to be ‘our’ London

. . .

Osama is an unsettling, oddly poignant look at what might have been, a world that is not necessarily better –because human nature precludes that- but simply different; it shows Tidhar’s originality and growing accomplishment in one of the best novels of the year so far. – read the full review!

short stories

The Three Laws of Zombie

My latest short story, The Three Laws of Zombie, is now online at Daily Science Fiction. My thanks to Nir Yaniv for his help in formulating the three laws. Incidentally, the story was conceived and written exactly a year ago! We were hanging around a book stall in Israeli Book Week, supposedly to sign copies of the Hebrew edition of The Tel Aviv Dossier, and we ended up with the idea of a zombie Asimov robot and, almost immediately afterwards, to the Three Laws. I possibly have that piece of paper with them scribbled on it, somewhere around…

Anyway, check it out!

The first time I saw a zombie was at McDonald’s. It tried to attack the cashier. An angry mob turned on the zombie. It stood between them and a Happy Meal. They beat the crap out of that thing. Green rotten brain splutters hit the plastic counter and it smelled worse than it usually smells at McDonald’s. By the time it was dead for good I had lost my appetite.

Zombies weren’t good for business.

In the following weeks every major fast-food chain had hired guards to stand outside, big fellah bouncers in non-threatening company colours and brightly-coloured shotguns. Don’t matter what colour a shotgun is when it blows your brains out.

They also hired extra cleaners. The new company standard was despatch-remove-clean in under a minute, or you could claim a free meal.

Everyone likes a free meal at McDonald’s.

KFC had a major embarrassment when old Colonel Sanders came back from beyond the grave looking like a half-cooked fried chicken past its sell-by-date. And when the whole zombie thing really took off, and Micky D had to face hordes of zombie Ronald McDonalds in feeding frenzies across the country, mass layoffs were a continuous problem.

I don’t know what happened with Wendy’s. I never went to Wendy’s. – continue reading.

book news

Adam Roberts reviews Osama

Adam Roberts reviews Osama:

Osama is a bold, gripping, atmospheric and thoughtful novel; easily the best thing of Tidhar’s I’ve yet read. The protagonist is a Chandleresque private eye, called (of course) Joe, living in a Greene-ily rendered Vientiane (that’s in Laos, of course—not the Vientiane in Hampshire). He is hired by the requisite bombshell mystery woman to locate a writer of pulp fiction, one ‘Mike Longshott’, author of a variety of lowrent adventure or porn-y novels, not least a series of novels about “Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante”. So, yes, in this alt-Earth Bin Laden is a fictional character. Interspersed between the chapters of Joe’s varied, kinetic adventures are excerpts from Longshott’s novels detailing the terrorist attacks in ‘our’ world (Dar Es Salam, the shoe bomber, London’s 7/7 and so on) with which we are familiar. In other words, Tidhar does that The Grasshopper Lies Heavy thing of giving us a perspective on our actual world from the point of view of an alt-historical location (that’s not quite right, though; because, although the world of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is closer to ‘our’ world than the world ofThe Man in The High Castle there are nonetheless key differences between reality and Dick’s novel-within-the-novel. But the analogy is close enough for government work).

Tidhar’s novel generates an impressive degree of emotional traction by setting an deftly replicated pulp noir ’tec idiom (the frame novel) against a carefully rendered neutral, reportage rendering of terrorist atrocity in the interleaved sections. The violence of the main novel figures after the manner of pulp adventure violence — dramatic, but more-or-less consequence-free — but the violence described in the embedded section genuinely shocks.

Despite the exceptionally cool cover image (up top, there) Osama Bin Laden is not actually a character in this novel. But that’s as it should be; Osama the novel is in the largest sense about the way ‘terrorism’ is actually a mode of making war upon our imaginations, and not, however it might appear, upon our bodies and our infrastructure. Accordingly this is a novel about the power of fantasy, about the proximity of dreams and reality, about ghost people and ghost realities. Lavie Tidhar has written a fine, striking, memorable piece of fiction here, one that deserves to be widely read. Kudos to PS for picking it up. You should read it.

Read the full review!


SF Signal Mind Meld, plus Podcast Interview

A couple of things recently – I participate in the latest SF Signal Mind Meld, on women SF writers, where I get to gush a bit about all the writers in the Apex Book of World SF, and talk about the influence of Tiptree (Alice Sheldon) and C.L. Moore on my own work.

And I was interviewed by Mur Lafferty for the Angry Robot podcast – where I ramble on about Camera Obscura and being a secret agent… erm.

New story should be up at Chizine soon. I’ll post as soon as it goes up!


Camera Obscura review round-up

Some recent reviews, on request of my agent. I engage in the old time tradition of cutting out the selected bits that sound good!

“A rollicking adventure with passages of brilliant prose …  a dreadfully fun romp.” –

Tidhar writes in the manner Michael Chabon champions in “Trickster in a Suit of Lights,” applauding the speculative writers who keep one foot in the land of “literary” fiction, while invoking “the idea of playfulness, of mockery and inversion.” Tidhar is such a writer.

“An incredibly hard book to put down. A colorful cast of characters, a gripping tale of loss, gain, secrets and cosmic dread, all woven into a hauntingly familiar and yet very strange steampunk version of earth.” – Daily Steampunk

 few weeks back I was wondering if Lavie would manage to dethrone himself and make Camera Obscura my new favourite Steampunk novel.

He did.

“A superb more-or-less standalone volume that expands the inventiveness of the debut while keeping the story better focused and having as great a character cast as there. Camera Obscura raised the Lesards series to a must for me. – Fantasy Book Critic.

“Lavie Tidhar’s mind must be fascinating place in which to live. It certainly is an exceeding pleasure to visit … I remain truly awestruck by the brilliance of Tidhar’s creation.” – LitPunk

Tidhar is a wonderful writer, who manages to merge widely different influences and references with seemingly effortless grace and who weaves a ripping yarn–exciting, suspenseful, extremely clever–that revels in the literary fun of it all but in a manner that is never smug or self-satisfied. Tidhar proves that words such as “intellectual” and “playful” are not mutually exclusive, and does so in the most thrilling of ways.

“The storytelling here will keep you on the edge of your seat (now there’s a cliché for you) and you should be well prepared for the ten minute dip into you planned to turn into hours. It happened to me, and it’s both at once wonderful and intensely annoying. I emerged from the final page of Camera Obscura exhausted by the experience, but with a definite smile on my face. It’s fast, and relentlessly fun.” – Matthew S. Dent.

“A good read, packed with gritty action and quirky characters. It has a strong female protagonist in Lady de Winter and to be honest I can’t wait to read the next one.” –

“Read this Steampunk adventure for the beautifully dark world that Lavie Tidhar has created.” – Preternatura.

“Stylish and exuberant.” – Warpcore SF

“Eerie and alluring.” – Bookgasm

short stories

Sturgeon Award Nominee!

It came as something of a surprise, but it looks like my short story The Night Train (Strange Horizons) is nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, for the best short science fiction of the year.

The full list of nominees:

  • Eleanor Arnason “Mammoths of the Great Plains” (chapbook)
    Damien Broderick “Under the Moons of Venus” Subterranean (Spring)
    Elizabeth Hand “The Maiden Flight of McAuley’s Bellerophon” Stories: All-New Tales
    Geoffrey A. Landis “The Sultan of the Clouds” Asimov’s, September
    Yoon Ha Lee “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” Lightspeed, September
    Paul Park “Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance” F&SF, January / February
    Robert Reed “Dead Man’s Run” F&SF, November / December
    Alastair Reynolds “Troika” Godlike Machines
    Steve Rasnic Tem “A Letter from the Emperor” Asimov’s, January
    Lavie Tidhar “The Night Train” Strange Horizons, 14 June
    Peter Watts “The Things” Clarkesworld, January