The regions that have survived the holocaust in Watson's new novel have largely transformed themselves from prewar violence into a peaceful utopia, without either conflict or art. In place of belief in a religious afterlife, the old and ailing accept euthanasia at Houses of Death where priestlike guides counsel them. One of these guides is Jim Todhunter, who pursues research into the nature of death despite official censure. When he is assigned to guide that rarity in the new world - a murderer - he finds a natural ally in the obsessive Nathan Weinberger, himself an ex-guide. As usual with Watson, the initial impression of a green and pleasant land is revealed to be only one facet of a more complex and disturbing reality.
Ian Watson (1943 - )Ian Watson was born in England in 1943 and graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, with a first class Honours degree in English Literature. He lectured in English in Tanzania (1965-1967) and Tokyo (1967-1970) before beginning to publish SF with "Roof Garden Under Saturn" for the influential New Worlds magazine in 1969. He became a full-time writer in 1976, following the success of his debut novel The Embedding. His work has been frequently shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards and he has won the BSFA Award twice. From 1990 to 1991 he worked full-time with Stanley Kubrick on story development for the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, directed after Kubrick's death by Steven Spielberg; for which he is acknowledged in the credits for Screen Story. Ian Watson lives in Spain.