Three recent releases with very little in common.
Will McIntosh's Love Minus Eighty (2013) is coming this June. I've not read him before, but from what I understand, Mr. McIntosh is sort of an ebook/indie sensation, not in the "sells like Hugh Howey or Amanda Hocking" way, but in the "there's this guy quietly making great books in the corner" kind of way. Love Minus Eighty is his first UK print publication and it is a corker.
A hundred years in the future, death isn't... conquered, but it is beat-up a bit. Cryogenics and medicine have both advanced spectacularly, so if you've got the cash, you can hang on for quite some time. If you don't have the cash, but you do have insurance, you can freeze yourself - give yourself that tiny bit of hope that someone, someday will pay to bring you back. And if you don't have the cash or the insurance? Well, look both ways before crossing the street.
One pervy side-effect of this brave new world is the idea of the "bridesicle". Beautiful women in fatal accidents - and without insurance - are carefully preserved. Rich men drop by, interview them, and, if they like what they see, the 'suitor' pays to thaw/fix the young lady in turn for marriage (and all that entails). It is... horrible. Mr. McIntosh lets us know exactly how horrible it is - prostitution, grinding misery, the soul-crushing loss of all agency. It is one of the most grim and least titillating visions of the future ever committed to print.
Love Minus Eighty is the story of how this premise impacts a half dozen people: a frozen young woman (thawed and killed and thawed and killed over and over again with each interview), a struggling musician who inadvertently kills someone, the woman he kills, a slightly neurotic writer who runs a dating service and a host of minor characters. Love Minus Eighty is a love story, I suppose, but less about people than an ode to love itself: natural, messy, serendipitous, ungainly love. Everyone in the book is busily trying to programme or direct something that refuses to be tamed. Love can't be purchased, wrangled, controlled or predicted - a lesson that everyone in the book learns, occasionally to their own detriment. It should be romantic, but Mr. McIntosh is wisely even-handed. For every couple that wins, there's also one that gets away.