Nova Swing

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Nova Swing
First UK edition cover
AuthorM. John Harrison
Cover artistDominic Harman
Publication date
January 2006
Media typehardback, paperback
823/.914 22
LC ClassPR6058.A6942 N68 2006
Preceded byLight 
Followed byEmpty Space 

Nova Swing is a science fiction novel by M. John Harrison published in 2006. It takes place in the same universe as Light. The novel won the Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick Awards in 2007.[1]


Nova Swing takes place long after the events of Light, which focussed on a disturbance in the space-time continuum known as the Kefahuchi Tract. The novel's thematic focus is the 'event zone' at the centre of the city Saudade, a space-time membrane created when a piece of the Tract fell to the ground, transforming the appearance and even physics of the event site. The zone draws tourists from Saudade, led by hardened guide Vic Serotonin, who specializes in dangerous "tours" of this chaotic zone. Many of the narrative's threads play out as a consequence of 'artefacts' being brought out of the event zone by tourists. The motif of the event zone recalls the Zone in Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. However the novel incorporates many aspects of noir fiction into its narrative. The stories of Vic and his nemesis Ascheman take on the classic noir tortured police and hunted/haunted criminal tropes while also subverting them.


Publishers Weekly said " Harrison privileges atmosphere over plot, using grotesquely beautiful narration and elliptical dialogue to convey the beautifully delineated angst of Saudade's extraordinary inhabitants. Although not for everyone, Harrison's trippy style will appeal to sophisticated readers who treasure the work of China Miéville and Jeff VanderMeer."[2] Regina Schroeder in her review for Booklist said "with its gritty, noirish atmosphere, elements of space opera, and some impressive moments of explosive action, this is a tasty, entertaining morsel, deeply flavored to satisfy the thoughtful."[3] Kirkus Reviews described it as "a cross between J. G. Ballard's intense, static The Drowned World and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's terrifying Roadside Picnic. The upshot: This science-fiction noir cum literary and social criticism is memorable, perplexing and challenging in equal measure."[4]

Nova Swing won or was shortlisted for several science fiction awards, including:

  • 2006 British Science Fiction Association Award nominee[5]
  • 2007 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner [1]
  • 2007 Philip K. Dick Award winner[1]
  • 2007 British Fantasy Award nominee[1]
  • 2007 John W. Campbell Award nominee[1]

Critical essays[edit]

Leigh Blackmore. "Undoing the Mechanisms: Genre Expectation, Subversion and Anti-Consolation in the Kefahuchi Tract Novels of M. John Harrison." Studies in the Fantastic. 2 (Winter 2008/Spring 2009). (University of Tampa Press). [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "2007 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
  2. ^ "Nova Swing". Publishers Weekly. 254 (34): 65. 27 August 2007. ISSN 0000-0019.
  3. ^ Schroeder, Regina (1 September 2007). Booklist. 104 (1): 66. ISSN 0006-7385. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Nova Swing". Kirkus Reviews. 75 (16): 832. 15 August 2007. ISSN 0042-6598.
  5. ^ "2006 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Archived from the original on 11 September 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2009.

External links[edit]