Arthur C. Clarke Award 2018 – Winner
BSFA Award 2017 – Finalist
In a near-future London, Millie places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, resolute in her decision to be a single parent. Across town, her closest friend—a hungover Toni Munroe—steps into the shower and places her hand on a medic console. The diagnosis is devastating.
In this stunning, bittersweet family saga, Millie and Toni experience the aftershocks of human progress as their children and grandchildren embrace new ways of making babies. When infertility is a thing of the past, a man can create a child without a woman, a woman can create a child without a man, and artificial wombs eliminate the struggles of pregnancy. But what does it mean to be a parent? A child? A family?
Through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations and three continents, this emotionally taut story explores the anxieties that arise when the science of fertility claims to deliver all the answers.
Paperback, Kindle eBook, Audiobook
Published by 47North (18 April 2017). Cover art by David Drummond.
“Charnock pulls hard on the parent’s universal worry—that no matter what we do and how much we want the best for our children, somehow we aren’t doing it right—in a skillfully executed multigenerational saga that explores a potential future driven by rapid development of reproductive technologies…A story that feels personal and intimate.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“highly enjoyable and thought-provoking…The willingness to experiment with viewpoint through time, as well as present a human agenda (what little science fiction these days can say that), make the novel very worthwhile. The futuristic technology depicted is extremely likely—in development as we speak—making the novel groundbreaking.”
—Jesse Hudson, Speculiction
“Charnock’s work is focused on character, and this is a deceptively small-focus, intimate study. It’s reminiscent of Cloud Atlas in a way, pinwheeling between characters as we move forward in time—but as the novel progresses it becomes clear just how wide a remit Charnock is aiming for, and just how successfully she covers it. This is a novel about the evolution of family and humanity and how inextricably they’re tied together. It’s a unique, challenging, and immensely successful story.”
—Alasdair Stuart, TOR.com
“Not a sequel to Charnock’s previous novel, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind so much as its organic successor, Dreams Before the Start of Time is a luminous, deftly crafted and occasionally disturbing portrait of the future we may be entering. A novel that explores the notion of family in all its myriad permutations, Dreams Before the Start of Time is science fiction at its most contemplative, asking intriguing questions about human reproduction, gender identity and interpersonal relationships and providing thought-provoking answers on a human scale. Anne Charnock’s third novel leaves the reader in no doubt of her evolving talent, and showcases all that is most imaginative and forward-thinking in British science fiction right now.”
—Nina Allan, author of The Rift
“Charnock explores what the family of the future will look like, as well as how society and pregnancy will change. Deceptively intimate, this is big-idea SF reminiscent of the societal changes mapped across generational sagas like Foundation or the Mars trilogy.”
“Charnock’s interest is always in the human aspect first: her characters are real, living, breathing individuals; lost in some ways, directive in others.…With Dreams Before the Start of Time already on my Best SF of 2017 list, Anne Charnock is now solidified as one of my favorite SF authors.”
—From Couch to Moon
“Charnock’s third novel is a beautifully nuanced exploration of future developments in fertility science. The science underpinning the narrative is subtle and unobtrusive, allowing the novel to shine on the neuroses of its large, three-generational cast of characters as they struggle to come to terms with the decisions of their parents. As with her previous novels, Charnock is marvellous at communicating a huge amount in a short space.”
—E.J. Swift, author of The Osiris Project series
“This is an excellent novel, and a worthy successor to the very wonderful Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind.”
—Adam Roberts, author of The Thing Itself
“Philip K. Dick Award finalist Charnock follows the progression of reproductive science across people in five generations…The reader will experience not only the changing views of society at large, but also the progression of the characters’ views as new opportunities arise for the next wave of parents. None of the technology seems far-fetched, leaving the reader to wonder whether this is predictive fiction.”
Latest Release: 2020
A dystopian novel of oppression set in the climate-ravaged Europe of A Calculated Life, a finalist for the Kitschies award and Philip K. Dick Award.
Late in the twenty-first century, drought and wildfires prompt an exodus from southern Europe. When twelve-year-old Caleb is separated from his mother during their trek north, he soon falls prey to traffickers. Enslaved in an enclave outside Manchester, the resourceful and determined Caleb never loses hope of bettering himself.
After Caleb is befriended by a fellow victim of trafficking, another road opens. Hiding in the woodlands by day, guided by the stars at night, he begins a new journey—to escape to a better life, to meet someone he can trust, and to find his family. For Caleb, only one thing is certain: making his way in the world will be far more difficult than his mother imagined.
Told through multiple voices and set against the backdrop of a haunting and frighteningly believable future, Bridge 108 charts the passage of a young boy into adulthood amid oppressive circumstances that are increasingly relevant to our present day.
“Charnock tells her story through the lives of ordinary people caught up in situations beyond their control, and Bridge 108 is all the more powerful for that.”
—The Guardian — Read full review
“The novel’s near-future setting feels grimy, sweltering and lived-in. Environmental collapse has brought out the worst in everyone, and instances of kindness are few and far between. It’s a commanding, if demanding, read.”
“Readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories with hopeful messages will be gratified by this topical tale of human resourcefulness in the face of climate disaster.”
“An interesting and thoughtful book that keeps readers engaged throughout, both emotionally and politically.”
“This coming-of-age story, told through a mosaic of voices, is enjoyable for readers young and old alike.”
“[Bridge 108] tells a very strong message of the potential consequences of allowing global warming to continue as it is. The world that Charnock builds for us is realistic and frighteningly possible in the current political and social environment.”
“Anne Charnock’s Bridge 108 is set in the same universe as her terrific 2013 debut A Calculated Life. It seems horribly prescient. With the inclusion of climate refugees, child trafficking, and slavery, Bridge 108 adds that final touch of verisimilitude to Charnock’s post-Brexit nightmare.”
Philip K. Dick Award 2013 – Finalist
Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award 2013 – Finalist
A Calculated Life is a dystopian vision of corporate life later in the 21st century when big business and state institutions are thriving thanks to a compliant, stratified and segregated workforce. Hyper-intelligent professionals live in affluence within the metropolis while menials live out in the subsidized, but spartan, enclaves.
There are upsides for everyone. Advances in genetic engineering have freed the population from addictive tendencies. Violent crime is a rarity.
Mayhew McCline, a corporation that detects global trends, recruits a young woman, Jayna, who instantly becomes the firm’s star performer. No one seems to be jealous. After all, she guarantees they all make their bonuses.
Despite her flawless track record, Jayna is feeling twitchy. She knows she’s making stupid mistakes. But no one has noticed, yet. Working on a hunch that she’s too sheltered from real-world unpredictability, she embarks on an experiment to disrupt her proscribed daily routine.
Unwittingly, she sets a path that leads to clandestine forays beyond the metropolis, forbidden relationships and disloyalty.
Paperback, Kindle eBook, Audiobook
Published by 47North (24 September 2013). Cover art by theBookDesigners
“Charnock’s dystopia is actually believable. It’s very like our own world, but slightly stretched at the edges—corporate interests reign unchecked, the class structure is rigid, and technology has taken us well beyond the limitations of our synapses and gray matter. Charnock is a subtle worldbuilder, but a convincing one..”
—Strange Horizons— Full review here
“Charnock has fascinating, complex things to say about work, sex, family and hope (and that pretty much covers it, don’t you think?)”
—Adam Roberts, author of The Thing Itself — Full review here
“Charnock an astute observer…what results is an inquiry into feminism and society that will make the reader truly pause to compare their own experiences and perceptions.”
—Speculiction — Full review here
Charnock’s novel is entirely and definitively her own. It is lovingly crafted, beautifully made in the economical, expert way a piece of Arts and Crafts furniture is made – pure lines, and perfectly suited to its intended purpose… I found Charnock’s writing about mathematics, and pattern recognition especially to be – well, the only words that come close for me, paradoxically, are moving and beautiful. Charnock is clearly a gifted and sensitive author of acute intelligence, writing science fiction of a kind – quiet, intense, thoughtful – we could do with more of.
—Nina Allan, author of The Rift — Full review on The Spider’s Web
“terrific 2013 debut”
“…Gets the grey matter firing… Such easily accessible yet intelligent fiction can be quite a rarity, and one to be savored.”
—The Taichung Bookworm — Full review here
The Guardian’s Best SSF Books of 2015
History is story telling. But some stories remain untold
In fifteenth-century Italy, Paolo Uccello recognizes the artistic talent of his young daughter, Antonia, and teaches her how to create a masterpiece. The girl composes a painting of her mother and inadvertently sparks an enduring mystery.
In the present day, a copyist painter receives a commission from a wealthy Chinese businessman to duplicate a Paolo Uccello painting. Together, the painter and his teenage daughter visit China, and in doing so they begin their escape from a tragic family past.
In the twenty-second century, a painting is discovered that’s rumoured to be the work of Paolo Uccello’s daughter. This reawakens an art historian’s dream of elevating Antonia Uccello, an artist ignored by history because of her gender.
Paperback, Kindle eBook, Audiobook
Published by 47North (1 December 2015). Cover art by M S Corley.
“Anne Charnock’s Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind (47North) is an expert braiding together of past, present and future that puts a 15th-century Italian female artist centre stage to say penetrating things about womanhood, creativity and history.”
—The Guardian, Best SFF Books of 2015 — Read full review
“Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind is certainly one of 2015’s tip-top releases in science fiction… Delicately outspoken, Charnock does not bang a feminist gavel, but instead lets the events and settings of her characters’ lives do the talking, and in the process gives the reader unpretentious material to ponder over. A mellifluously challenging book—like its exquisite title, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind is one to look for.”
—Speculiction — Full review here
“…this quiet, lovely and exquisitely crafted novel is itself a masterclass in composition… As in her debut novel A Calculated Life, the clarity and refined elegance of Charnock’s prose is a significant achievement.”
—Nina Allan, author of The Rift — Read full review on The Spider’s House
“The feminist elements of Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind are elusively contradictory, so much like life!, making this one of those thinking books—the kind with embers smoldering until a second visit. I look forward to more from Anne Charnock.”
—From Couch to Moon — Read full review
“Anne Charnock combines history, art, and sci-fi in this spinning novel that encompasses 15th century Italy, the present-day, and the 22nd century.”
—Bustle, Best December Books 2015 — Full review here