We all have to work to live, even if it is an illegal survey for oil in the rapidly melting arctic. Software engineer Isobel needs to eat like everyone, and that’s how she fell into the job that leads her to the most northerly place on our planet.
As part of a weathered crew of sailors, scientists and corporate officers she sails into the ice where their advanced software Proteus will map everything there is to know. A great icebreaker leads their way into the brutal environment, and the days grow longer, time ever more detached, as they pass through the endless white expanse of the ice.
But they are not alone. They have attracted the attention of seals, gulls and a hungry, dedicated polar bear. The journey to plunder one of the few remaining resources the planet has to offer must endure the ravages of the ice, the bear and time itself.
Always North is one of the most memorable and grippingly readable novels about climate change I’ve ever opened: compelling, beautifully estranging and wonderfully urgent in its imaginative passion. The perfect blend of arctic mystery thriller, science fiction and post-disaster apocalypse. You won’t want to miss this one.
Adam Roberts, author of The Thing Itself, Jack Glass and many more.
Vicki Jarrett is a tremendous talent and a writer fit for our times. Always North is packed with startling prose, sublime humour and prodigious heart. It is a hell of a story, one in the great tradition of Atwood and Le Guin: terrifying in its plausibility, provocative in its challenges, and above all massively entertaining.
Iain Maloney, author of The Waves Burn Bright and The Only Gaijin in the Village.
It hooks you in and draws you under right from the start. A nightmare vision of the future from one of Scotland’s finest writers, Always North is an extraordinary achievement.
Pippa Goldschmidt, author of The Falling Sky and The Need for Better Regulation of Outer Space.
Vicki Jarrett’s terrific novel conjures the mythic from concerns about climate change, featuring a voyage, a labyrinth, perhaps even old and new gods. It’s wonderfully detailed and disorienting, rewarding the attentive reader with its looping structure and careful meditation on the nature of memory and time. Wry, thrilling and constantly entertaining, Always North is an absolute triumph.
Tim Major, author of Snakeskins and And the House Lights Dim.
For Beth and Amber, one night on Junction Street is much like any other. In the Deep Sea chippy Beth shovels chips while across the road, in Fantasy Island, Amber spins around a pole in six-inch heels. But this is no ordinary Saturday night – a dramatic death forces both women out of their comfort zones and into high-risk action. Cue George, lost and broken-hearted and dressed in a monkey costume.
Unaware that their fates are already connected by a past tragedy, Beth, Amber and George are once again set on a collision course, this time with wildly unpredictable and life-changing results.
A hilarious, surreal, furiously-paced adventure involving sex, drugs, chips and angels which hovers masterfully between tragedy and farce.
‘A unique authorial voice and a captivating account of the lives of three unforgettable characters, all of whom have secrets and challenges to face. Totally unpredictable, hilarious in places, unforgettable.’
‘Here be angels and monkeys, falling to earth and living by one’s wits, dark places and beautiful tricks of radiant light. Vicki Jarrett is more than budding talent: this book full of visual delight and moral questions, in a voice entirely Edinburgh and entirely her own, is in mettlesome bloom. Surprise yourself – read it.’