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REVIEW: A Fall in Autumn – Michael G. Williams

A Fall in Autumn - Michael G. Williams

Genre: Science Fiction

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

WINNER of the 2019 Manly Wade Wellman Award – presented to the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel by a NC writer by the NC Speculative Fiction Foundation!

WELCOME TO THE LAST OF THE GREAT FLYING CITIES

It’s 9172, YE (Year of the Empire), and the future has forgotten its past.

Soaring miles over the Earth, Autumn, the sole surviving flying city, is filled to the brim with the manifold forms of humankind: from Human Plus “floor models” to the oppressed and disfranchised underclasses doing their dirty work and every imaginable variation between.

Valerius Bakhoum is a washed-up private eye and street hustler scraping by in Autumn. Late on his rent, fetishized and reviled for his imperfect genetics, stuck in the quicksand of his own heritage, Valerius is trying desperately to wrap up his too-short life when a mythical relic of humanity’s fog-shrouded past walks in and hires him to do one last job. What starts out as Valerius just taking a stranger’s money quickly turns into the biggest and most dangerous mystery he’s ever tried to crack – and Valerius is running out of time to solve it.

Now Autumn’s abandoned history – and the monsters and heroes that adorn it – are emerging from the shadows to threaten the few remaining things Valerius holds dear. Can the burned-out detective navigate the labyrinth of lies and maze of blind faith around him to save the City of Autumn from its greatest myth and deadliest threat as he navigates his feelings for his newest client, the handsome golem Alejandro?

The Review

The ancients have destroyed the world with overpopulation and filth. They had the technology to make it right, but they got it wrong.

In 9172, Year of the Empire, there is now the lone floating City of Autumn. Ten years prior, along with Autumn, there was another floating City of the Ancients named Splendor.  Splendor was a great and wonderful place, but it was destroyed.

Valerius Bakhoum is a detective in Autumn. He’s following someone named Buttercup for a client who just wants to know what Buttercup is doing. Valerius is uncomfortable with the case but sticks with it, and finds himself in Down Preserves, where he’s ambushed by the client and knocked out. When he wakes, he’s face to face with a golem by the name of Alejandro.  

Alejandro turns up at Valerius’ office and wants to hire him. Alejandro believes he’s dead and he’s in search of himself. He tells Valerius the story of Splendor and Autumn, and the destruction of the other floating city. Valerius is skeptical when Alejandro tells him of the Avenging Angel, and humans who destroyed Splendor.

Alejandro feels threatened, because very few who have spoken of or witnessed the Avenging Angel have survived.

Is the Avenging Angel a myth? A boogeyman? Or is it real?

Valerius wants to believe Alejandro, and takes his case. The investigation will lead Valerius to those who believe the Avenging Angel exists, and those who believe there’s more to the demise of Splendor and even the ancient world itself than anyone realizes.

The investigation will also lead him into another mystery – one of missing boys that his former lover, Yuri, brought to his attention. And he will make a new connection with a member of the Hendricks Gang – Fiono. 

With all that Valerius uncovers, his own demise becomes clearer to him, and hatred and anger take over. He will have one last choice to make.

The narration by Archie Montgomery is superbly performed and outstanding. His voice tones for  Valerius, Alejandro, Blackie, Solim, Henrietta, Clodia and all the characters is just perfection. His voice for Valerius is especially great – gruff and solid – you can tell he he was totally into being this character. Alejandro’s tone is smooth, relaxing and calm, which gives the perfect picture of what a golem is. The voices are also distinct for each character, so there’s no confusion.  Montgomery hits all the emotions in this magnificent novel, really bringing these characters come to life.

I don’t think I will ever forget Valerius. No matter what he faces, he continues to look for answers and tries to make sense of it all. He also has a special connection with Alejandro, Yuri, and Fiono. Because of what their lives are like in this futuristic world it’s not love, but more like a found family.

There is just so much amazing creativity in this sci-fi novel. The author does some amazing worldbuilding here, describing the differences between the floating cities and the inhabitants who live in them. On top of all this, Williams has created a wonderfully twisted mystery that shocks and surprises at every turn.

I sometimes struggle with sci-fi, but I became immersed in A Fall in Autumn right from the start, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s unlike any other novel that I have ever read. Michael G. Williams really knows how to tell a story – I can’t wait to read book 2, A New Life in Autumn.

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff

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