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3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,837 ratings  ·  297 reviews
Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning.

In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased.

Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland,
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published June 28th 2018 by Gollancz
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,837 ratings  ·  297 reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
When I first saw Summerland pop up on NetGalley, I got my feisty finger out and click-clickity-clicked as fast as I could. When you read as many books as I do, it's easy to start feeling the dreaded book slump start to take over and for your reading list to grow stale, but look at how unique and exciting this premise is! While I'm glad I picked this up, as it was a unique and very different read for me, I think I had a different image in my head of what this would be vs. what it actually was.

Manuel Antão
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Ana and Kata: “Summerland” by Hannu Rajaniemi

“Yet the longer you lived in Summerland, the stranger things became. Your hypersight grew more acute, and little by little, you developed an awareness of two additional directions that were invisible to the living. One was the ana direction, four-up. Towards ana lay the world of the living, in its own thin slice of the aether. It was the direction of the Unseen, the mysterious source of hype
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a bonafide fanboy of Rajaniemi, first for his trilogy and then for his short story collection, I was really chomping at the bit for ANYTHING he might write next. His imagination is by far some of the most hard-hitting spectacular steam-rolling post-singularity tour-de-force circuses I've ever come across.

So what was my initial reaction when I heard he was writing about 1938 pre-war spy fiction where the afterlife is not only accessible but is actively involved in politics in that alternate wo
DNF at 60%

I really enjoyed the beginning, and think the ideas and concepts are great. The writing is actually very confident and seasoned too. However, about halfway through I hit a wall that I could not get past. While I like Rachel, one of the main characters, the other main character, Peter, is hard to sympathize with and is just plain boring. The plot eventually becomes so burdensome it's virtually impenetrable. After painfully slogging through the last couple chapters, I have no desire to c
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at

The afterlife hardly seems like a suitable subject for science fiction, but authors as far back as Edgar Allan Poe – whose pseudoscientific proto-mockumentary “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” hoodwinked newspaper readers in 1845 – have sought to portray the pre-scientific notion of consciousness after death in post-scientific terms. Some of the more famous examples since then come from Philip José Farmer (Riverworld series) and P
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
„You are a cruel woman, Mrs. Moore,“ he said between sips.
Reminiscent of Marvel‘s Agent Carter, Mrs. Moore is a secret agent... but that is just the beginning. Set in 1938, we get espionage and counter espionage, glimpses of the Spanish Civil War, the Old Boy‘s Clubs ruling Great Britain, one disenchanted female agent, communism, an alternate reality or rather, a netherworld of ghosts and mediums. Because in this world you go places, when you die. If you have something important to do and own a
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was my first novel by this author, who came highly recommended.

The premise of there being an afterlife, making death no big deal, as well as all the political repercussions (Queen Victoria is still ruling Britain, although from Summerland which basically is "the other side") sounded intriguing. The people here not only have a way of talking to the dead on a special phone, the dead can also rent a medium's body to walk among the living. We also have a spy story full of agents, moles, double-
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Sci-Fi meets Alternate History meets bloody shrimping original concept meets super extra cool afterlife meets espionage and counter-espionage and counter-counter-espionage meets subversion and counter-subversion and counter-counter-subversion meets traitorous traitors meets scrumpalicious contraptions meets Franco and Stalin and Lenin, oh my meets ectoplasmic everything =

Full review to come and stuff. Hopefully some time before 2078.

P.S. A person who likes orange marmalade cannot be all bad.
Ed McDonald
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of Summerland because I got to read the first pages at Worldcon, got hooked and then bugged the publisher until they gave me a copy. No spoilers.

I've always felt that there are concept books, and then there are plot-based books. The concept books take an idea and explore it thoroughly, and you umm and ahhh at the marvellous imagination of the writer. Plot books send you somewhere that's familiar enough that the strange world the author has created does
The Captain
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys! This be the third book in me Ports for Plunder – 19 Books in 2019 list. I knew I wanted to read this alternative history sci-fi novel after reading about it in matey Lashaan @ bookidote’s awesome review. As he nicely puts it, “It might not be the most accessible story that you could pick up, but it is without a doubt enthralling and authentic.”

And aye, that be exactly what this was. The story takes place in an alternate 1938 where the dead are still very much a part of the
K.J. Charles
An alt-30s spy thriller only life after death exists. Old spies do die, and then they get a job on the other side.

It's a pretty weird concept, made weirder by the very strongly alt setting which has diverged considerably from our reality but uses a lot of people even so. Expect Kim Philby, Roger Hollis, Stalin, Mansfield Cumming etc, all not doing what you might think. That basically works, even if it's confusing, but what does not is to add a New Woman called Ann Veronica and the discoverer of
Quintin Zimmermann
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Summerland is a peculiar novel with the unique premise of mashing together the disparate concepts of the afterlife with Cold War spy tradecraft .

Almost the entire book takes place in an alternate 1938, where the dead are able to relocate to a fourth dimensional afterlife via a meritocratic system of Tickets that are offered to the deserving. The dead can further interact with and manifest themselves in a very real way in the world of the living via ectophones and mediums. Imagine being able to p
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
5 Stars

Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi lived up to my high expectations. Let me simply state that Rajaniemi has vaulted himself to the top as one of my very favorite science fiction authors writing today. This is a cool mystery set in a world where we can go to an afterlife place called Summerland. A really cool concept with great characters and great writing.

A must read.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 11, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
I finally started to get the premise of this novel, spies in the afterlife during World War II. Ectoplasm included. And the government is somehow in control?

I decided not to finish for the following reasons:
-I loved the quantum novels by the author, partly because they felt so heavily based in potential science, even if I couldn't quite grasp it all of the time. This novel does not benefit from the same realism and it was hard to accept it enough to enjoy it, for me.
-A badly written/handled mis
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

There’s always something intimately satisfying in picking up a book that jolts your mind with refreshing ideas that only seemed inconceivable at first. Author of the critically-acclaimed Jean le Flambeur trilogy Hannu Rajaniemi returns for a stand-alone espionage story infused with a whole dose of science fiction in Summerland. Pulsating with passion and creativity, this story is the very archetype of what novelty is all about. Far from being a
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
It was hard to believe this was written by the same author who wrote The Quantum Thief, one of my favorite books. In many ways the plot was similar to The Ghost Walkers by Wells. Perhaps it was the plot or world in both books but I didn’t love either. Perhaps other readers will enjoy this more than I did.
Richard G
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hannu Rajaniemi has done it again. Summerland is a superbly crafted, immersive and thought-provoking novel. Instead of a deep space caper, Summerland is a pre-Cold War Era espionage mystery set in 1938 England where the East-West theatre is on the brink of the Spanish Civil War. Bureaucratic rivalry between the living and the dead in the British Intelligence intersect with private indiscretions of the elite, since in this alternative world, death is not the end but entre to a better place. In Su ...more
Although it purports to be a very different sort of book, I found ‘Summerland’ strangely akin to Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Jean le Flambeur Trilogy: The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince, The Causal Angel. While the latter are hard sci-fi space adventures, the former is an alternate history supernatural spy story. Yet all are intoxicated by intricate world-building, which crowds out the characters and story. The central concept in ‘Summerland’ is admittedly brilliant: after Marconi managed to contac ...more
Zoe's Human
I received this as part of my Brilliant Books subscription, and I must confess to a moment of dread and doubt when I opened the box. I tried to read The Quantum Thief and absolutely hated it, so much so that I didn't finish it. However, BB has done a great job of picking books for me and I do like to give author's more than one chance, so I decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did.

It wasn't particularly suspenseful, mysterious, or surprising. It was, in fact, quite predictable. Yet it was also f
I normally don't write reviews here for items that I am supposed to review for LJ, but I do want to add that the synopsis that GoodReads has listed is incorrect. This is not about "the bastard daughter of Harry Houdini" or a "map of the Other Side". That does sound very intriguing, but those items are not anywhere in this particular book.

Review to follow in the Library Journal.
Alex Sarll
Rajaniemi's Jean le Flambeur trilogy was a marvel; tricksy, baroque post-singularity space opera, and as such exactly the sort of thing I was always likely to love. His first novel outside that...isn't. It's set in an alternate 1938 where, four decades earlier, scientists made irrefutable contact with the afterlife. So the Great War was won with ectotanks and flyers, people channelling the energy of the dead - and now, the battle between the Republicans and Franco looks set to draw the great pow ...more
Complex but more accessible than his previous work, Rajaniemi’s latest is a feast of spycraft, afterlives, Gods, moral quandaries and politics set in a magnificently original alternate history world.

Set in an alternate 1938, the Spanish Civil War is heating up and Britain has discovered a way to communicate with and preserve consciousness in the afterlife, called Summerland. The empire has colonised an abandoned alien city within Summerland, creating a haven for their recently deceased citizens
Leah Rachel von Essen
In Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi, World War II never happened, because Great Britain discovered Summerland. Britain colonizes the “afterlife” and treat going there as a meritocracy reward—you need “tickets” in order to go there properly somehow, or you’ll fade. I am a big fan of twisty, turny narratives—of complicated science fiction and fantasy that demands much from the reader to keep up. Unfortunately, I found Summerland rather disappointing in that even by the end of the novel, I was struggl ...more
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

Rajaniemi is an exceptional author. I have been deeply impressed with everything he's written. This is dark and mature story of loss and duty. A very strange world between the living and the dead, and a rather good spy vs spy story that unfolds.

I can't really say why I loved it so much, but it was a superb story that i finished in very few sittings. (The joy of Covid Lock Down I guess)
Oleksandr Zholud
This is an alt-history novel, where afterlife is not only real, but is able to communicate with our reality. This is my second book by Hannu Rajaniemi after The Quantum Thief. I was impressed with the latter, but with this one – not so much. It is interesting to note that the book was published in 2018, when a book with the similar time period and similar importance of souls (albeit in as different way), namely Witchmark.

It is 1938 and British Empire not only covers the globe but has a foothold
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Fantasy, spies, Victorian spiritualism and the afterlife, set in a very alternate 1938. Great writing, a strong female character, and world building that may be a bit too deep. Also, way too many blurbs on the cover!

One of those blurbs mentions spies that don't die, which is partially true. The worlds here are our world, Summerland or the Summer Court (a spirit world which is largely British?), and the Winter Court (the opposition - no nationality mentioned?). A ticket is required for entry into
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-release
I'm extremely confused by what's going on with this book. There's some interesting (if incomplete) worldbuilding, but the plot manages to be mostly unsurprising and kind of dull. The political reality also makes no sense - either in the sense of domestic or global politics. It reads like there were some great ideas here that just didn't cohere into a book.

For a book with such a big scope, Summerland just feels too small. It's like there are only fifteen real people in the world. This is the kind
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
(Some points in this review could be considered plot spoilers, though they emerge early enough in the book that I don't think of them as such, but more part of the premise.)

I sampled this author's Quantum Thief, but bounced off it because it was both very high-concept and in a setting with a lot of new things in it that aren't immediately explained. This one is high-concept, but the setting is more understandable: the world of British espionage in an alternate 1930s, in which Lodge and Marconi h
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hannu arrived to the science fiction genre with quite a bang in 2010.  His novel, The Quantum Thief, was clever, bombastic and energetic, and was widely acclaimed as an inventive debut from an exciting new author.

Now, eight years and three other novels on, Hannu’s latest novel is a very different read.

My prejudices should be known from the start - I love stories set around World War Two, both in the interwar years leading up to it and the Cold War afterwards. Genre books are a rich source of int
Tracy Rowan
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I flailed about for a while trying to decide what it was I was reading as I read Summerland, but in the end, I realized I was reading a thriller in science fiction garb.  That's not to downplay the SF element, it's essential to the plot, and it's unusual in that it treats the afterlife, or at least what is known of the afterlife in this society, as something that's just slightly to the left of real life.  The dead can still communicate with the living, they go about their lives pretty much as th ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong book blurb 6 30 Jun 28, 2018 12:35PM  
Release date incorrect? 1 29 Jul 26, 2017 09:01AM  

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EN: Hannu Rajaniemi is a Finnish author of science fiction and fantasy, who writes in both English and Finnish. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is a founding director of a technology consultancy company, ThinkTank Maths.

Rajaniemi was born in Ylivieska, Finland. He holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Oulu, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics from the University of Ca

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