“Winters has written a 1984 for the 21st century…”

My new book, GOLDEN STATE, will be published by my good friends at Mulholland/Little, Brown on January 22.

You can preorder right here.

I am allowed to say this, because I’m the author: this book is bonkers. It’s a murder mystery about the dissolution of objective reality, set in what may or may not be an alternate-reality iteration of California.

Like UNDERGROUND AIRLINES, and like the books in my Last Policeman trilogy, this new one is sort of in the shape of a mystery novel, but it has elements that may make some readers consider it science-fiction. It’s also a little philosophical, a little political, a little poetic, a little sad, a little funny.

Whatever it is, I am VERY proud of it, and excited for you to read it.

This is the official description from the publisher, which is better than mine and should have gone first:

In a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else, Laszlo Ratesic is a nineteen-year veteran of the Speculative Service. He lives in the Golden State, a nation standing where California once did, a place where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life and governance impossible.

In the Golden State, knowingly contradicting the truth is the greatest crime–and stopping those crimes is Laz’s job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths, to “speculate” on what might have happened. But the Golden State is less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the truth requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance and recording. And when those in control of the facts twist them for nefarious means, the Speculators are the only ones with the power to fight back.

 

& here are some very nice quotes from early readers:

 

“A perfectly poised ontological-thriller-comedy-dystopian-allegorical-page-turner, yet with tenderly real characters in its chewy center, this turned out to be just the thing I was looking for.”—Jonathan Lethem, author of Fortress of Solitude

 

“Not many writers would take on Orwell, Ray Bradbury, the nature of truth, and the current administration all at a blow. Big shoes to fill–and they fit Ben H. Winters just fine. Golden Stategrabs notions of disinformation and literalism and brilliantly turns them on their head to see what falls from their pockets.”—James Sallis, author of Drive

“Golden State is a prescient, devastating commentary on humanity’s disintegrating attachment to reality and truth, expertly-told through the prism of a police-procedural, dystopian nightmare. Winters has written a 1984 for the 21st Century. Not just a thrilling book, but an important one.” —Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter

“The author of the Last Policeman trilogy and the stand-alone Underground Airlines (2016) adds another thought-provoking, genre-bending SF thriller to his bibliography. . . . Another fine novel from a writer whose imagination knows no bounds.”—Booklist

“A skillful and swift-moving concoction . . . For those who like their dystopias with a dash of humor. No lie.”—Kirkus Reviews

You can preorder GOLDEN STATE here, or here — that link goes to Walmart.com, because I think it’s wild that you can buy my book there — or here, or just save up until January 22 and march into your favorite bookstore to buy a copy like an old-fashioned person.
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Roundup of Roundups

Late spring is the time of year when newspapers and magazines put out their lists of hot books to read over the summer, and I’m very pleased with how many have chosen to include my new alternate-history mystery, Underground Airlines.

Those include (so far):

The New York TimesThe Chicago Tribune, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly.

Speaking of Publisher’s Weekly, they also gave the novel  a starred review that (what the heck) I’ll just go ahead and reproduce in full below. I hope you’ll consider placing an advance order of Underground Airlines from your favorite local bookstore, and telling your friends.

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From Publisher’s Weekly:

“Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller from Edgar-winner Winters (The Last Policeman). Victor, an African-American bounty hunter for the U.S. Marshals Service, possesses a supreme talent for tracking down runaway slaves in a world in which there was no Civil War and slavery still exists in four Southern states. He’s a master of disguise and dissembling. Victor tracks a runaway slave code-named Jackdaw to Indianapolis, Ind., where he ingratiates himself with Father Barton, a purported leader of an abolitionist organization called Underground Airlines, and succeeds in penetrating the group. But soon thereafter Victor impulsively befriends Martha Flowers, a down-on-her-luck white woman traveling with her young biracial son, Lionel, a kindness that soon jeopardizes Victor’s carefully constructed cover identity. The novel’s closing section contains several breathtaking reversals, a genuinely disturbing revelation, and an exhilarating final course of action for Victor.”

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My next novel, available to be judged by its cover

Winters_Underground_Airlines

My new novel, Underground Airlines, won’t be in stores until the distant date of July 5, 2016, but I’m now allowed to show you what it will look like, courtesy of the good people at Mulholland Books/Little, Brown.

I started writing this novel late in 2013, while I was still wrapping up  World of Trouble, the last book in the Last Policeman trilogy. So it’s been a good long time that this story and this world have existed in my head. Showing you the cover, though it is still many months until the actual book is released, feels like a kind of dividing line between the terrifying/exciting period of writing it and the exciting/terrifying period of sharing it with the world.

This beautiful cover was designed by Oliver Munday. The art director at Little, Brown is Keith Hayes.

You can read a bit more about Underground Airlines here or here.

If your appetite is well-whetted by the picture, feel free — in fact, feel encouraged! — to mark the novel as a “to-read” on Goodreads, to share this page and the Goodreads page with your friends, and of course to pre-order from an online retailer or your favorite local bookseller.

I’ll be posting more about this novel as we get closer, obviously. July is still a long, long way away.

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Work in progress

There was an item in Publishers Weekly yesterday about my new book. It’s called Underground Airlines, and it will come out probably in spring of 2016. The publisher is Mulholland Books, an imprint of Little, Brown.

It probably goes without saying that I am super-excited about this news, not least because I’ve been working on this project for quite a while already—over a year at least, moving slowly from mulling to drafting to writing—and it’s a relief to arrive at a moment where it’s real, it’s happening, it’s going to actually be a book.

The big concept of Underground Airlines is that it’s a crime drama that takes place now, in present-day America, except the Civil War was never fought, and legal slavery still exists in pockets of the South. You can already tell, if you know the Last Policeman books, that there are some familiar elements: it’s speculative fiction, it’s a counterfactual, it’s the that world we know except for this one thing that changes everything.

But I can tell you that the hero of Underground Airlines is seriously about as different from Detective Palace as you can imagine, both as a person and as type of hero. And while the  Policeman series was about the end of the world, about death and how we live with death, this book is about race and racism, it’s about grief, it’s about the horror of American slavery (and in particular the Constitutional nightmare of the Fugitive Slave Law), and it’s about compromise.

Well, I mean, I think that’s what this book is about—that’s what it’s about so far. I’m not done. It’s a big book—it’s going to be a big book—so I hope you’ll read it when it’s done and we can talk about it then.

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P.S.  The only blue note in this happy news is that Underground Airlines will not be published by Quirk Books, who did the Last Policeman trilogy and my earlier novels, too. A kinder and more hardworking group of humans you will never meet, in or out of the publishing business. You should buy their books—although if you’re one of the billions who read Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, or William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, you already have.

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