Glasgow grit sets milieu for dystopian ethereal sci-fi

Philip Miller's All the Galaxies will keep you guessing.

ALL THE GALAXIES
Allen & Unwin
Philip Miller

This is not a normal novel. Part dystopian, grimy Scottish tale; part ethereal, sci-fi - Philip Miller really takes you places.

As an arts correspondent for the Scotsman, it is not surprising the author’s delicate, otherworldly prose shines.

But in a universe with so many galaxies and bedlam descending on Earth, it is easy to get lost.

The story is centred around hardened journalist John Fallon, a features editor at a Glasgow newspaper struggling to stay afloat.

The protagonist is the stereotypical whisky-soaked hack but his background has much greater depth.

He is split from his wife and his son is missing.

The city is in a surreal state of recovery following an internal terror attack by a group of bloodthirsty young men calling themselves "The Wardens".

Despite their leader being behind bars and most of them being wiped out, there is a lingering evil permeating Glasgow, which has led to a militarised police force and political unrest.

The wickedness has also spread to the leaders of the newly autonomous city state.

A war is brewing.

Meanwhile, the journalists at The Mercury are trying to cover the turbulent times and simultaneously keep their heads above water.

If that was not dramatic enough, the chapters are spliced between the concrete wasteland and the colourful afterlife.

A dead boy navigates his way through the expanse of the galaxies with the help of his equally dead dog Kim. It quickly becomes clear who the boy is but his role is unclear.

As tensions in Glasgow rise, the stakes are raised.The fight is not only one for the city but for world - it is the classic battle of good versus evil; or is it?

- Rob Kidd is an ODT court reporter.

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