Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
The battle for your mind has already begun.
At Jodrell Bank Observatory in England, a radio telescope has detected a mysterious signal of extraterrestrial origin—a message that may be the first communication from an interstellar civilization. Has humanity made first contact? Is the signal itself a form of alien life? Could it be a threat? If so, how will the people of Earth respond?
Jack Fenwick, artificial intelligence expert, believes that he and his associates at tech startup Intelligencia can interpret the message a find a way to step into the realm the signal encodes. What they find is a complex alien network beyond anything mankind has imagined. 
Drawing on Dada, punk and the modernist movements of the twentieth century, XX is assembled from redacted NASA reports, artwork, magazine articles, secret transcripts and a novel within a novel. Deconstructing layout and language in order to explore how idea propagate, acclaimed designer and artist Rian Hughes's debut novel presents a compelling vision of humanity's unique place in the universe, and a realistic depiction of what might happen in the wake of the biggest scientific discovery in human history. 
Propulsive and boldly designed, XX is a gripping, wildly imaginative, utterly original work. 

992 pages, Hardcover

First published August 20, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Rian Hughes

80 books92 followers
Rian Hughes is a designer, illustrator, comic book artist, type designer and writer. From his studio, Device, he has produced watches for Swatch, Hawaiian shirts, logo designs for Batman and Spiderman and an iconoclastic revamp of British comic hero Dan Dare. His first novel is 'XX'. He has an extensive collection of Thunderbirds memorabilia, a fridge full of vodka, and a stack of easy listening albums which he plays very quietly.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
302 (35%)
4 stars
277 (32%)
3 stars
177 (20%)
2 stars
77 (9%)
1 star
19 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 217 reviews
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,076 reviews550 followers
February 16, 2021
Two questions immediately arise when the curious reader approaches this massive tome: Is it really almost a thousand pages? And what is all this nonsense about a ‘meta’ novel; isn’t ‘XX’ just a dressed-up (or down) graphic novel? The quick answers are ‘Yes’ and ‘No’: The pages will fly by until the suitably baroque Stapledonian ending. And all the extra-textual elements added by Rian Hughes – including a bunch of virtual characters defined by the use of different typefaces, I kid you not – all come together in an amazingly cohesive and effective whole that is perfectly balanced. It is a towering achievement, and an amazing work of both SF art and literature.

I went into this cold and have to plead ignorance about Hughes. According to syfy.com, he is “one of the best known and most pervasive British illustrators and graphic designers of the past 30 years. Starting in the mid-1980s, Hughes contributed to influential titles like ‘2000 AD’ and ‘Love and Rockets’, while also doing work for DC Comics, collaborating with Grant Morrison on ‘The Invisibles’, and creating mastheads and logos for a number of other publishers. He expanded into the worlds of graphic design for advertising, books, album covers, and more, while also beginning (in 1992) to create his own custom fonts, which he now releases through his own company, Device Fonts.”

So, ‘XX’ is Hughes’ first novel. On the surface, it is a relatively straightforward yarn about humanity’s chance interception of the Signal, which seems to herald First Contact. If our intrepid characters can figure out what the heck it means, of course. And then we have a second narrative strand whereby a mysterious alien craft crash-lands on the moon, actually penetrating the surface, resulting in a race to find out if anyone (or anything) survived. If that is not enough of a curveball, the latter part of the book includes an eight-part Golden Age SF adventure pulp (probably my favourite section, especially the deft way that it is tied into and expands the main narrative).

There is a bewildering array of extra-textual material here, from interview transcripts to email exchanges, magazine articles and newspaper reports, fictitious Wikipedia entries and an array of weird symbols, pictures, diagrams and alphabets. Hughes tells syfy.com that he actually ‘wrote’ the book “directly into InDesign … I wrote it in the font that I was using … it looked how it sounded as I wrote it, if that makes sense.” Another tidbit is that Hughes struggled to keep under the 1000-page mark, and ended up having to do a “heavy edit” to knock off 350 pages. Oy vey.

Despite the length, this is a surprisingly fast read. One would expect all the extra bits and bobs to cause the reader to flounder, but I loved the immersive experience. I did read the Kindle version, where the app can enlarge all the additional text and graphics, but this is probably best read as a physical book. Some book buyers on Amazon have complained about bad binding resulting in pages detaching from the spine, which is not ideal, as this is both a big and heavy book that demands quite a vigorous reading experience. (I for one can’t imagine sitting in bed holding this brick of a book one-handed while eating a bowl of ice cream, so the Kindle version does have its benefits).

What I also loved about ‘XX’ is how Hughes engages in a kind of meta-discourse with the history of SF as a genre. There is a heavy focus on semiotics and game and language theory at the beginning, which reminded me of Samuel R. Delany and China Miéville, but this is broken up by the moon expedition narrative, which in turn reminded me of Arthur C. Clarke and Alastair Reynolds. The latter is manna from genre heaven for fans of hard SF, as written by grand masters like Stephen Baxter and Paul McAuley.

But ‘XX’ is by no means imitative or derivative. Hughes projects a unique voice in this gigantic canvas of a novel. I cannot imagine any SF reader not being completely enraptured by it.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
Want to read
November 11, 2020
oh, man - this could either be GREAT and RIGHT UP MY ALLEY, or it could be A PRETENTIOUS NIGHTMARE. i flipped through it and it looks like great fun, but it is so long and so expensive, i don't want to risk it yet. HOWEVER, if i see enough GLOWING reviews on here from TRUSTWORTHY SOURCES, i will gladly cave.

watching this space.
Profile Image for Eric Anderson.
686 reviews3,397 followers
September 29, 2020
Recently I've found myself getting into reading science fiction. I've not previously been drawn to the genre – I don't have much interest in extraterrestrial life or fantasies about elaborate future civilizations. But I do have an affinity for the science of outer space, the complex nature of consciousness and the beauty of graphic design. Rian Hughes' majestic and innovative novel “XX” delivers all this and more while telling a story that consistently gripped and delighted me for all its 977 pages. The premise is fairly simple. An unnatural signal from outer space is detected and a small London tech company speculates that perhaps it's not a message from aliens but a code which actually contains the aliens themselves. From this spins a thrilling tale where not only life on Earth is in jeopardy but every living thing in the galaxy.

But this novel is many many other things as well. It contains a science fiction story within a science fiction story – a wonderful ode to the kind of serialized sci-fi tale that might be found in a 50s pulp magazine which also connects with the larger novel. It's about the blurred line between artificial intelligence and human intelligence. It's a meditation on consciousness which pushed me to reconsider how we define memory and our perception of reality. It presents a convincing fictional theory about the formation and structure of the universe. It offers a new way of conceptualizing ideas about creation and fate in regards to religion. It's a history of technology's evolution. Woven into its story are an array of graphics and a variety of fonts (many designed by the author himself) which add meaning to the text in their very design. And it's also a philosophical meditation on the meaning and endpoint of human civilization itself. So there's a lot going on, but the novel is so well plotted and has a cracking sense of humour that it can successfully juggle all this at once.

Read my full review of XX by Rian Hughes on LonesomeReader
Profile Image for Claudia.
960 reviews555 followers
April 20, 2021
What a visual feast! I have never encountered anything even remotely similar so far, and hard to believe there will be another to match its complexity. "A brilliant co-mix of text and graphic design in which sign, symbol and word are linguistically intertwined and reinvented.", as we can read on the 4th cover.

Think of William Gibson, Greg Egan, Arthur C. Clarke and Alastair Reynolds combining their skills to give birth to a virtual world whose tendrils are interwoven with the real one and further into the universe. You can't possible comprehend this until you read it. Think of Permutation City, Neuromancer, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Revelation Space or House of Suns, all of them emerging as a whole from a small IT company office, with two genius geeks to make it all happen.

Add to that three virtual memetic entities which speak in different fonts and tweets, symbols, signs, layouts: the whole book speaks to the reader through visual representantions, rather than conventional writing; it is also a deep dive into semiotics and semantics. This is not a book to be read for its plot, although it is intriguing enough, but for its form. It scrambles your brain through fonts, formats, binary codes and images.

The narration is not linear: among our heroes' threads, there are newspaper articles, wiki pages, transcripts, podcasts, interviews, tweets, debriefs, even a 1960s sci-fi story in 8 instalments. The chapter numbers are domino pieces. There are so many pop art, various cultural, musical and scientifical references, that I had spent a lot of time looking for them on the internet for a better understanding of the book.

There is a fair amount of conventional writing as well, mostly conversations between our protagonists, which are really witty, punny and hilarious at times. You can't but love Harriet, Nixon and above all, Jack, our main geek.

What more can I say? This is not a book to be told, it is a book to be read, seen and savoured at leisure; it's a one time experience. It's clever, entertaining, unique, and is putting your mind at work. I'm wondering how much time it took Rian Hughes to complete it - it's such a complex project, and for this alone, it deserves all stars.

PS: More coherent thoughts about the book can be found in this article: https://www.itsnicethat.com/news/rian...
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,217 reviews9,894 followers
Shelved as 'to-read-novels'
June 9, 2021
My copy of this enormous behemoth arrived yesterday. Wow, it’s a thing of beauty. I stumbled over XX in Waterstones last week and had exactly the same thoughts as karen brissette


who if I may quote her says

this could either be GREAT and RIGHT UP MY ALLEY, or it could be A PRETENTIOUS NIGHTMARE


If you haven’t seen it XX is as much of an art object as it is a science fiction novel, It's full to bursting with this kind of thing –

plus a lot of actual normal pages containing characters and plot, I assume.

The first maximalist graphically wild novel I came across way back in 2000 was House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski.

It was exciting to read but I didn’t end up loving it. Still, I was keen to get Mr Danielewski’s even more graphically CRAZY book The Familiar Volume 1, and that one remains the most beautiful novel I ever saw – alas, though, the story was for me unreadable tosh.

So I wasn't inclined to go for the full set of Familiars -

(Congratulations and a free hour of counselling for anyone who read all five.)

The third of these monster experimental novels I got was theMystery.doc by Matthew McIntosh and that was a 2.5 star near-disaster – again, fascinating and exciting to read until you got the idea the story itself was flimsy and egregiously navel-gazing.

So these huge intriguing graphic/printing/text design experiments mostly seem all dressed up with nowhere to go.

I hope this one turns out to be The One.
Profile Image for Alexander Peterhans.
Author 2 books193 followers
August 29, 2020
"Like notes stretched beyond human comprehension, a final song was being played on a record made of white-hot plasma, rotating around the black spindle at the centre of the Milky Way at the speed of light. If it was possible to fill the intervening space with air and compress a millennium to a minute, a tune might become audible."

XX is actually a pretty straightforward science fiction story, at its heart. XX is also a multi-layered and at times preposterously complicated book.

It's as if Hughes did a boatload of research for the book, and then instead of distilling it, included all that research pretty much directly in the book. If that sounds like a knock on the book, I honestly can't make my mind up - whether it is depends on your personal mileage and how that may vary.

The book is a mix of "regular" novelistic storytelling, and graphic design, in the form of illustrations and different fonts and layouts, used to further underline the narrative and/or characters. It is probably the most interesting aspect of the book, and works very well - it does feel towards the end of the book as if the graphic design well has run a bit dry, and the focus shifts more to telling the ending the story.

There are four main groups of characters. On the moon we have an astronaut who is sent out to see whether something that has crashed into the moon, might be of extraterrestrial origin.

Back on Earth, we have a small three-person design agency, that contains a bonafide genius, in the form of Jack. Jack is a twentysomething who seems somewhere on the spectrum, and has a highly developed eye for patterns, bordering on the unhealthy.

"Her face . . . he could see it much more clearly now, but it seemed to jump around, making him screw up his eyes like he did towards the end of a long night’s coding; it was shifting disconcertingly, as if lit by a strobe or a faulty fluorescent strip-light. Jack could not quite make it out. Then comprehension dawned. It was a stuttering montage composed of countless screen-lit selfies."

One of Jack's projects forms the third group of characters - the three Dmen. These are amalgamations of memes and ideas, that represent those ideas but also can reflect on them. Jack makes it possible for them to take form in VR, and the discussions with these Dmen is where a lot of playing with fonts becomes crucial.

Then there are the people at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, who have recently picked up a repeating signal (henceforth known as the Signal), that again seems of extraterrestrial nature. Part of the Signal leaks to the internet, which then becomes wholly obsessed with deciphering it, which seems impossible. Maybe someone like the aformentioned Jack would have more luck?

These different narrative stems wind around and through eachother, in short, snappy chapters (which do help to make the book feel slightly less, well, endless). There is some beautiful writing here, a real eye for description that does sometimes border on the slightly annoying. The book follows the different journeys of discovery almost step by step, which can make reading the book feel a bit like a chore - but just when you think you've had enough, something will pop up (narratively or graphically) to refocus your mind's eye. There are quite a few sidestories and sidesteps that don't lead anywhere and that don't really help the narrative along, which also can be frustrating.

"Think of the two deadly memetic pandemics of the twentieth century: fascism and communism. In both cases we needed to be cured of a virulent viral meme – their persuasive mass appeal had to be neutralised once and for all, not just their machineries of state."

At its very core, XX is a book about ideas, how they evolve, how they replicate, how they jump from human being to human being, much like a virus. Ideas exist outside of human minds, sit waiting on the page or on the internet, for a fertile human mind to come along. What would happen if these ideas are wholly alien? Could the human mind cope with them?

"But two things I can put into words: One: it brings a warning of coming devastation, not only of all life on Earth, but the extinction of all life in the galaxy. Two: the absolute certainty that this cannot be prevented."

XX is a frustrating read at times, but also an exhilerating one. I would find myself switching regularly between "can't put it down" and grudgingly picking it up again. It's a book I can't recommend to everyone, but if you have a tolerance for the strange, and a tolerance of a slower form of storytelling, XX has a lot to give.

(Kindly received an ARC from The Overlook Press through Edelweiss)
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,213 followers
September 18, 2022
3.5 stars
This is such a smart and creative multimedia sci fi novel that celebrates typography and graphic design through the lens of a first contact story. The book was a touch long for my tastes but it was such a smart narrative within an original format.
Profile Image for Paul Dembina.
437 reviews92 followers
September 18, 2020
This appeared to tick a lot of the boxes for me. Length - nearly 1000 pages, splendid! Mixing of forms - text interspersed with reproduced reports, typographical tricks - check.
It all started off so promisingly. The story was expansive and engaging with the graphical interpolations adding extra info.
I especially enjoyed the Ascension novelette that appears in 8 installments.
However, somewhere around the 600 page mark my attention started to waver. The location shrunk to just a single office. Lots of (similar) characters talking at each other, the graphical content either dropped off or what was there didn't really add much to the story.
October 9, 2020
Fair Warning: I will be talking Spoilers- including up to the very last pages- within this review.

This is, at the very least, an extremely impressive work. It clocks in at nearly a thousand pages, seemingly packed end to end with Big Ideas and design-led experiments in narrative (wiki articles, interviews, letters, magazine excerpts and more).

Yes, the characters are paper thin, the dialogue is rough and exposition dump filled, but the chapters are short, so turning each page to discover what new format awaits is thrilling. Likewise, the more traditional narrative sections feel propelled by a sense of mystery and cosmic danger, even if the exploits of a bunch of London tech start-up employees messing with code don't really seem all that...interesting, frankly.

Then, somewhere around the 600 page mark, I became aware of a sense that I had seen all its best tricks. The sense of danger and mystery evaporated under the weight of a sci-fi mythology that somehow manages to be both under- and over-explained all at the same time. The characters remain cyphers at the whim of The Idea, which itself reveals itself to be hollow and repetitive (the overuse of the word 'memetic' really starts to grate after 750 pages). Likewise, the breaks in format start to come less often, feel far more perfunctory, give you far less to ponder over.

The climax seems emotionally and thematically at odds with the rest of the book, drowning in jargon and an ill-rendered sense of 'time running out'. The confrontation between our characters and the nondescript government agents tracking them, for example, is woefully feeble and ends with a 'well I guess they just don't care anymore' sigh that threatens to deflate the whole endeavour.

As for Dana's quest to enter The Grid, it feels strikingly in conflict with the rest of the book's long, long digressions on the secret origins and potentially sinister nature of The Grid. Let's join it anyway, because something is coming to kill us in a trillion years and survival is all that matters. This, at least, is just a difference of outlook between myself and Hughes, but this quest and its aftermath becoming the central focal point of the final pages felt very off.

It's a similar story with some of the...unnecessary or unexplored elements here. A chapter where the book itself comes alive to talk to the reader? I...sure, but it doesn't really add anything or add up anything.

The Grey Man story is, in microcosm, kind of the problem with the book: Introduced early on with a tinge of existential horror and a fascinating connection to our main character, Hughes proceeds to do almost nothing with the idea for several hundred pages, until a tossed off half paragraph in the final stretch that answers nothing, completely disconnects the Grey Man from Jack and offers nothing like an interesting ending to its original unsettling appearances. In almost every way, the last 300 pages here become a frustrating slog.

Easily the best segments are 'Ascension', the novella-within-a-novel that overcomes Hughes shortcomings by remaining short-and-to-the-point, and playing off old school speculative pulp sci fi in a consistently fun way. I really would rather have read quite a lot more of that, even if, again, its connection to the main narrative is inconsequential at best and Hughes avoids any of the more interesting possibilities for what its existence could mean within his world.

I REALLY wanted to like this book: I'm a sucker for epic reads, doubly so for anything that tries to experiment with the form, but this is a lifeless book where everything about it seems tired. By the last few pages, you can feel the book becoming bored with itself.

Your mileage could vary: Maybe someone with more of a taste for space physics and programming jargon could get more out of this. For me, the disappointing nature of set-up versus resolution pretty actively killed my interest in the topics as it bore on.

And there's definitely no need for quite so much talk of London geography, or 75% of the other jargon. So much unnecessary detail added in what feels like an attempt to make sure this book is a Big, Sci Fi EPIC regardless of pacing or whether the story and characters can actually handle that weight.

All in all, a massive disappointment and one of the most frustrating books I've read in years.

Profile Image for Chris Berko.
471 reviews117 followers
September 10, 2022
I don't think Rian Hughes exists. There is absolutely no way anyone can convince me that one brain came up with this and mixed in so many visual extras that layer this amazing story in emails, transcripts, works of art in many mediums, photos, fonts and so much more that are so expertly interwoven that explanations would require power points and speeches and lectures and multi-media presentations of their own to adequately convey the awesomeness. No way. This book was written by Neal Stephenson, David Wong, and Jean-Michel Basquiat and probably a bunch of other people too, but I know those guys for sure. There's no way to do this book justice with words because it is more than words. If you have ever enjoyed a book at all ever in your lifetime, read this and prepare to be wowed. Mind-blowing in all the good ways this is an experience and a half.

Profile Image for Missy (myweereads).
501 reviews21 followers
September 22, 2020
“Some would say that’s all we are - collections of random ideas that just happen to reside in meat machines.”

XX A Novel, Graphic by Rian Hughes begins with Jack Fenwick who thinks he can decode an extraterrestrial signal which is detected at Jodrell Bank. An expert in his field, his team Intelligence discover a way to step into the alien realm the signal encodes. Here they discover ghostly entities which come from our past.

This book is a story within a story within a story. Initially, you are introduced to this signal and the involvement of several people. Throughout the book pieces of evidence are given in the form of articles, webpages, reports, letters, typography etc. These elements add a lot of investigating for the reader and suggestions of what is to come. This is what makes it unique along with the Pulp novella which is included. It doesn’t stop there, for me this is the first time a book also provides a QR code to an album by a band which is also reviewed within these pages. That alone seems like a lot to process and makes reading this novel quite an experience.

The core of this Sci-Fi story being told for me was about how humans comprehend the existence of something more than ourselves. How we would react and what we would do if such a thing was to occur. Again this is only scratching the surface of several messages throughout this book. Strangely for myself, it touches on topics I will be studying so in that way it creepily made a lot more sense to me.

It is a big book and for me, I was hooked from the get-go. I do see it being a huge task for some readers but the story is worth the effort.
Profile Image for Gemma Cemetery.of.forgotten.books.
92 reviews24 followers
September 25, 2020
“The best way to kill a bad idea is to have a better one”
So much to unpack with this book. It is an absolute bibliophiles dream. From different mediums, to use of different styles and print. Visually this book was abruptly stunning from beginning to end.
XX A Novel, graphic by Rian Hughes starts with a Mysterious extraterrestrial code that has been received by Jodrell Bank. As Jack Fenwick and his team are brought in to help investigate, it becomes clear that this is more than just a message from the stars.
There are so many layers to this book. We follow not only Jack, Nixon and Harriet who are working with the code, but also Dana, an astronaut. Throughout that there is a novella by a sci-fi writer turned cult leader, Hershel Teague. A story within a story, within a story.
Everything connects beautifully. Through newspaper reports, letters, emails, typography and of course the pulp fiction novella (which I absolutely loved) and the very first time I’ve had a QR code in a book to listen to music while I read based on the signal from space! So fucking cool!!!
There are a lot of ideas contained within this book, and the one that fascinated me the most was how prevalent ideas are in human society and how we really are just ‘ideas that happen to reside in a meat machine’ As a historian this is what I felt most strongly attracted to. Ideas like fascism, racism, capitalism etc they hang around don’t they?!?
However, there are so many amazing and fascinating ideas in this book. I’ve barely scratched the surface.
What I will say is this book is very sci-fi and I did struggle sometimes to get my head around some of the concepts. I’m not used to reading what I thought of as hard sci-fi and it was a really gear shift for me.
Thank you so much @mybookishlife and @picadorbooks for sending me this copy.
Profile Image for Carlex.
534 reviews99 followers
December 31, 2021
Four and a half stars.

I finished this book months ago but I was not in the proper mood to review it, or at least to review how it deserves.

Well, this is my review and still this is not the book deserves either, but I do not want to let the year go by without mentioning one of my best readings, if not the best. Also, apologies for my English, I'm trying to improve it.

First of all, I must say that I really liked the book. It is a bit complicated for me to explain what I think that the author tries to achieve in this novel because it is so… complicated. Just say that he combines a good hard science fiction with some philosophical ideas and cultural history, and semiotics… and graphic design… and...

I will try again. These ideas as far as my knowledge reaches are based on the study of what is known as the noosphere, the ideal world, in a sort of neoplatonist worldbuilding (actually galactic building). Maybe the theory that approaches the most is the memetics theory. Implicit in the context the author is mixing science and art "à la Edgar Morin" (to cite an author that I have read about this issue, who tries to bring science and the humanities closer). Obviously the author excels in popular culture history among other things.

I think that, like any author, Rian Hughes has written a novel with the elements that he knows best and the result is quite successful considering the difficulty he faces, resulting in a amazing novel, perhaps not strictly science fiction. About the plot I can only say that the social context, the consequences of the discovery that "we are not alone" are very plausible and at the same time innovative compared to the previous literature on this subject.

In other sense, XX is a book that tries hard to transcend the limitations of the paper format while making them more evident. Of course this is intentional by the author. So this is the artistic medium chosen by him and I respect it, and I must note that writing (or designing) and publishing this book can not be an easy task.

In my opinion this is a book that proposes an impossible task to achieve. However, the author's intent is brilliant and his success is to offer a unique, amazing and enriching work. For me, XX is highly recommended
Profile Image for Michael Dodd.
973 reviews68 followers
October 1, 2020
Part modern ‘hard SF’ novel, part homage to vintage SF, part intertextual blend of traditional narrative, epistolary sources, visual media, graphic design and much more, Rian Hughes’ debut novel XX is not for the faint-hearted, but rewards a brave reader with a genuinely unique, utterly mind-blowing experience. Take a mysterious signal from outer space, a bunch of senior scientists from assorted space agencies, and a cutting-edge tech startup staffed by a trio of fearless young innovators, and throw in the possibility of first contact with an alien species (in a very modern way). Filter this story through the lens of augmented reality, fold in a strong theme of modernism, lashings of mind-bending maths and science and even a story within a story, and what you get is out of this world in theme, style, intent, complexity and – ultimately – impact.

Let’s be clear – this book categorically will not be for everyone. It’s not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it requires patience and concentration over and above the vast majority of books I usually read! If it all sounds a bit too bonkers for you, that’s entirely fair enough. For me personally, though, it was like a direct line to the part of my brain that wants to be challenged and entertained in equal measure, the sort of book that takes everything I put into it and returns it with interest. Your mileage may vary of course, but in my eyes this is an astonishing achievement – narratively rewarding and visually stunning – and is going to stay with me for a long time.

Read the full review at https://www.trackofwords.com/2020/09/...
Profile Image for Ed Erwin.
956 reviews97 followers
Shelved as 'didn-t-finish'
April 14, 2021
It starts out OK, but I'm not interested in pushing through 1000 pages, and they are big pages, unless I am pretty sure it will be worth it.
Profile Image for Xray Vizhen.
57 reviews2 followers
January 1, 2021
If you count the pretty astro-photo and the pages of 1’s and 0’s shrinking off symbolically into invisibility and eventually to nothingness at the very end, we actually have 986 pages, half of which could have or should have been eliminated without affecting the story or the book’s impact one bit. All it needed was a bit of judicious editing because the story itself is actually pretty simple and one that has been told before; ie: Arthur C. Clark's 2001 A Space Odyssey, its progenitor short story, The Sentinel, and Carl Sagan’s Contact.

I won’t go into what anyone can glean from reading the flyleaf or the publisher's notes but basically I came away from this book sorely disappointed and ultimately bored. The book is hard to get into. I almost stopped reading several times because for the longest time, nothing at all was happening. Finally, on page 78, something interesting does happen but then once again it’s a slow, slow crawl leading to... not all that much. With some writers I don’t mind a slow pace because the language used and the way words are put together just flows beautifully off the page. This is not the case here because frankly, the writing reads like a comic book. Also there are pages and pages, hundreds of them, containing conversations and exposition depicted with every type face size and font that could possibly exist on a word processor, reading in all different directions; left-right, up-down, sideways and even in circles. This all supposedly also symbolizes something but is ultimately unnecessary and quickly becomes just a distraction. Put it simply, what we have here is a graphic novel without the illustrations.

The overall concept is original; a signal from outer space is not just a signal from aliens, it IS the aliens, something which, despite the book's length, is not thoroughly explained. Also, alien "ideas" embedded within the signal, with assistance from an Oculus type device, can come alive in "Idea-space", again something not well described other than the fact that every thought or word, said or printed, and all that we are can be translated into 0's and 1'. All this is pretty hard to get your arms around but when you come right down to it, is not that interesting to actually read about. Neither are the principal characters described very well; we can’t tell if they’re tall or short, fat or thin, old or young, good looking, average or just hideous plus, even more importantly, the relationships between them are ignored completely, making them even harder to care about. Neither is/are the alien(s). (Yes, there are a bunch of them.) We don’t get a real sense of what any of them are about even when one of them sort of takes up residence in the mind of one of the central figures. How is that even possible?

All in all, I devoted a considerable number of hours reading this book and sadly, will be forgetting all about it within a short period of time. That is the book’s ultimate failure to me.
Profile Image for Night.
71 reviews13 followers
September 25, 2020
Let me start with a massive thank you to Rian Hughes, Stephen Haskins and Picador. I would not hold this stunner in my hands without them.

(It came with a pin!!!)

When I heard about this book I was quick to request it – a novel, graphic? Not just a novel, not just a graphic novel? I love novels as much as I love graphic novels, so hearing it’s mixed media had me invested and requesting before Stephen could say “X”. Probably.

Full review available at

Profile Image for Anna.
1,741 reviews675 followers
August 23, 2023
When I added XX to my to-read list, I was under the impression it was a graphic novel. That is not the case - it is a very lengthy novel with graphic design elements. Knowing this I would probably still have tried to read it, but had I known what the experience would be like I wouldn't have bothered. At page 228 I seriously considered giving up and set it aside for a short while to read Marx's Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy. I continued with XX mostly because there are a large number of five star ratings and reviews and I wanted to either understand why or be able to write a counterpoint. If anyone is going to force themself through 996 pages of a book that really annoys them, it should be me because a) I read fast, b) I enjoy the act of reading regardless of content, c) I'm unwilling to judge a book until I've read the whole thing. Here is my considered judgement: it was not worth the effort.

The book begins with an alien signal arriving on Earth. What could it mean? Who better to ask than Jack, a Special Genius Man with a tech start up company in Hoxton who is an expert in AI, all languages, and 'seeing patterns'. We are told that he is socially inept (although he has a manic pixie dream girlfriend whose artwork includes 'unicorns in gas masks and guerrilla corn-dolly installations') and 'semi-autistic', whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. Obviously the genius archetype can be done well, if the narrative shows the character's intelligence rather than just stating it. Unfortunately XX instead insists upon constantly telling us how smart Jack is, often through his own mouth, which I found deeply tiresome. He comes off as an arrogant asshole as, for example, he has 'Genius' on his business card while his coworker Harriet has 'Code Monkey' on hers. There is only one other employee at Intelligencia, his startup, and that's the CEO Nixon. The first few hundred pages merely establish these characters and that the alien signal is a mystery. This could have been a lot more succinct; in a thriller it would have taken three pages.

Thankfully an actual plot develops once the alien signal reveals its secrets. I appreciated the inclusion of Dana the astronaut, who is by far the most interesting character despite communicating solely in extensive infodumps. The use of graphic design, mostly distinctive fonts, for characterisation and worldbuilding is quite fun, but was done much better in Grant Morrison's Invisibles series. Similarly, the incorporation of interviews, articles, a pulp scifi serial, etc would have been more effective had it been deployed more sparingly, as in John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar and The Jagged Orbit. Here, such elements just bloated the book without adding much insight into the plot. The digressive pulp serial seemed particularly excessive. I found it frustrating that the narrative seemed to have more style than substance, while also being extremely substantial in length. There were some potentially appealing weird ideas, but they weren't done justice.

I think XX does something I've come across before in novels like The Book of Strange New Things: tries to tell a hard scifi story without the necessary skills. Hard scifi needs to deftly bridge the gap in scale between individual characters and the vastness of space and to convey complex technological ideas without just lecturing about them. XX manages neither, whereas Adrian Tchaikovsky does both brilliantly in the Children of Time trilogy, for example. This is not merely about narrative style, it's about handling epic scales and imaginary science in a compelling, comprehensible, and convincing fashion. I suspect that many of those who gave XX five stars were not be habitual scifi readers and thus lacked these expectations. In my opinion XX is ambitious, but thinks it is cleverer than it actually manages to be. The same points about ideas are made over and over again, without really adding anything original. It is also far too long - the story could have been told better in less than half the page total, while still retaining many of the graphic design elements that make it distinctive.

What took it down from three stars to two, however, is the characterisation, which reminded me of my annoyance with The Atlas Six. It's just clumsy, particularly for the female characters. (We're told that Harriet and Nadine enjoy being lectured by Jack about 'science'. Really??) Jack himself never ceased to get on my nerves, not only because he's such a cliché but because every other character treats him like the smartest specialist man in the world. This is the response to him committing treason:

"Jack, Jack, Jack... What am I going to do with you, my boy?" Daniel was sure Jack would never do something really foolish; his rigorous mind didn't deal in uncertainties. It was much more likely that his obsessive-compulsive curiosity had once again got the better of him.

That kind of tech messiah mentality is very hard to swallow when the World's Most Divorced Man is busy loudly and comedically dismantling twitter.

Rather appropriately, the ending shows humanity taking credit for aliens' hard work. Despite the huge expanses of space and time that are evoked, a sense of wonder seems distinctly absent. At least Dana gets to do some very cool stuff, although the startup seems to experience very few consequences for their actions. In short, XX is not an alien first contact story that I can recommend. The characterisation is perfunctory, the worldbuilding delivered awkwardly via infodumps, the plot dragged out over too many pages, and the graphic design elements insufficiently zippy to compensate for all of this. Instead I'd recommend reading In Ascension by Martin MacInnes.
Profile Image for Scott Sharp.
85 reviews
January 14, 2021
NO SPOILERS HERE: Best book I read in the last two years. Best sci-fi I've read since the Three Body Problem. I put them on par for quality.
On the back flap of XX, Grant Morrison's review compares it to Moby Dick, Faust, Kubrick's 2001, and Ulysses. That felt like the highest praise possible and I was sceptical, but it convinced me to read the nearly 1000 pages. As I read the book, I kept these comparisons in mind and in the end, I agree. I see some comparisons to Watchmen as well, but I understand Morrison has a hatered of that graphic novel.
At times the chapters cover complex subjects, but it is all relevant to help build background for the overall plot. This is not a quick read, rather the language is best savoured and the ideas allowed time to percolate. I'd recommend familiarizing oneself with some of the names and concepts to enjoy the book even more.
Every aspect of the book made me think about the author's intentional choices, from images, fonts, print format, (a few) intentional typos, and base-13 chapter numeration; the medium of the physical book is used in novel (haha) ways that expanded my ideas of what a book could be.
I can't imagine getting the same experience from an e-book version and would advise against an e-book form.
The ideas in this book have infected me and will stay with me for quite a while and inform how i view some of the subjects presented in this masterpiece.
Profile Image for Tim Joseph.
515 reviews6 followers
July 19, 2022
This seems to be a love- hate book.

I claim the middle space!

I think, overall, any book that requires an investment of almost 1000 pages really needs to being something special to the table. XX did do that with some very cool concepts, a unique look at humanity, self and individuality and some meta publishing styles (Ala House of Leaves).

However, as with any 1000 page book, you must be prepared. This is also a high-concept, philosophical art piece. At times, the content gets in its own way, proving to be a bulky slog punctuated by some story to keep you hooked.

Overall, am I glad I read it? Maybe.

I would have enjoyed it more if it were a touch more streamlined, but I didn't hate it.
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,177 reviews46 followers
June 21, 2020
"XX" is a bit of a mind-blower. It's huge in scope - really huge. Too huge for me. I enjoyed Rian Hughes's writing and the plot, but it felt like there were a lot of unnecessary sidetracks that the book would have been better off without. I can see this book being turned into a successful TV series, but it was a disappointing read for me.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
Profile Image for Sonali V.
164 reviews73 followers
August 30, 2023
This was a pretty challenging read for me. I didn't really understand all the details of the technology but I got the general drift. It didn't take away my enjoyment of the author's novel virtuoso presentation, in fact it was fascinating as I tried to wrap my head around it all, all the geek talk, political scoring talk, imitation of newspaper speak and official memo speak etc. Ultimately, I felt it was about Consciousness. Where and how does it arise, how does it move, what is its function in the Universe, that it is undoubtedly all-encompassing, where and how long does it exist/ has existed eternally. Which, to my mind is somewhere near my understanding of Hindu philosophical concepts. Thanks to Marc Nash for talking about this book on his channel.
Profile Image for Kazen.
1,348 reviews303 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
December 18, 2020
This book has been a frustrating read because there is interesting stuff in here, but it's buried in tangents and diversions. There are two main stories - a small AI startup that is trying to figure out the meaning of an intercepted message from space, and the story of a woman, alone on the far side of the moon, investigating ...something... that crashed nearby.

The story on the moon is more interesting by far, but the worldbuilding is clunky and leaves big questions unanswered. Why is she alone? Has she really been there five and a half years straight? Is she getting resupplied or making do with what she has? And how is she mentally stable after this environmentally enforced solitary confinement? I realize the answers may still be coming, but we spent pages on every rock she jumped over as she explored the cave. I think there was room.

Meanwhile, the story on the ground holds no interest for me at all. Jack is painted as a genius who sees patterns a la John Nash while the other characters exist for him to spout theories at and make him look smart.

"She had grown to enjoy Jack's enthusiastic monologues, which were always educational if not entertaining. Nixon, sensing that he was intellectually outclassed, folded his arms."

The graphic design pages are beautiful and interesting, but aren't enough to keep me going through the straight novel narrative. The final nail in the coffin for me is that I'm 23% - over 200 pages into the book - and it has yet to pass the Bechdel test. Add in some weirdness, and I'm gone.

"She'd not met Harriet or Nixon before, though Harriet had seen a pair of underpants that certainly weren't hers in Jack's desk drawer and so had an inkling she might exist. She presumed she had a second pair, and was not sitting across the table eating her halloumi burger commando."

"The pixelated grain looked like her own in-uterine ultrasound."

Um, ow?

I had a lot of hope for this book but sadly it wasn't for me.

Thanks to Overlook Press for providing a review copy.
Profile Image for cardulelia carduelis.
514 reviews29 followers
July 11, 2021
For a book about encoding and information compression this sure could have used a good edit.

XX has left me a little bamboozled. How did it convince me to keep reading, all 983 pages of it when the story is so mediocre, when the characters are so flat? How did it manage to keep me interested when I was rolling my eyes at every piece of dialogue that came out of Jack's mouth or at anything said by the Count, XX, or (Girl,21)?
Why didn't I skim more of it?

I think this is, in part, due to the format. The Intelligencia segments, by far the dullest sections of the book, only came in 2-3 page snippets of exposition. So everytime I'd think about skipping them I'd be guilted by their brevity. On the other hand, the exciting parts, such as Dana the astronaut's debriefing were also pretty short - which made me cherish them more when they came around.
However, there were times where I too keenly felt the 'graphic designer' flavour of Hughes's work coming through. For example, the 19-21st century 'memetic entities' and their way of speaking through different typefaces splayed over the page ended up being irritating. The entities rarely conveyed any real information so I would end up skimming any dialogue with them. Below is an example of an exchange between 'The Count' who represents humanity in the 19th century, and 'XX' who represents humanity in the 20th century, embracing dadaism & the military-industrial complex, to give you an idea:

There's also 'Girl,21' who speaks in the form of tweets like a boomer's interpretation of a gen-Z tween, and I guess is meant to be humanity in the 21st century?
It feels like Hughes had a neat idea about typographical memetic entities and kept them in as a novelty - they are shallow and flashy, adding very little to the plot. To be fair, it is conceptually on0brand for the book as a whole: how to convey and encode ideas takes center stage over the ideas themselves.

The book is divided into 3 parts, which is not initially very clear given that the contents page first appears on page 754.
I didn't care for the first part, ANALYSIS, which introduces the Signal from Space, the London offices of our protagnoists, the memetic entities and their quest to be incarnated, and Dana on the moon. The moon segments, where Dana inches through huge lava tunnels trying to figure out what just landed, are wonderfully creepy and the whole section ends on a cliff hanger. Unfortunately we spend most of these 300 pages in a start-up in London with Nixon (average Joe with money), Harriet (token woman? What is her pesonality?), and Jack (hero/weirdo). They sit around trying to play with the signal, including 3D printing things they capture in their LAN? It's a weird start.

The next part, Exegenesis, is the longest and most fun. I could tell things were going to be better in this part of the book because it starts off with an epic 8-part serial fantasy-sci-fi adventure called Ascension, the likes of which you'd find in Asimov magazine. Hughes even devised a whole Asimov-equivalent called Planetfall, and made alternate covers (I believe he commissioned different designers) for the many editions of the book! It's also got a mythology associated with its publishing: the author says he was sent the story from space and forms a cult. Very PKD taken to an extreme.
And Ascension starts with a map!

The serial showed me that Hughes actually can write, but for some reason is choosing not to for the majority of the main work. Ascension is an odyssey of social class, of strange lands, of a creepy all-consuming idea. It works very well within the book but I think I'd have preferred it as a standalone.

This section also has debriefings with Dana the astronaut, general panic from the public (which Hughes crudely correlates with nationalist immigration rhetoric), and explorations of the Grid with VR goggles.

The final part, Synthesis, is pure sci-fi fun but the ending feels anti-climactic. . I really loved the iron-core shell-world and the descriptions of the signal as it sits on a rover on some dead planet.

I can't cover more plot points without writing a long review that I wouldn't read, but here's a list of things that weren't resolved that I would have liked to have resolved:

Overall, I'm not sure what to think of this. I liked many parts of it, especially the Planetfall stuff, but the plot and character design are flimsy.

6,283 reviews67 followers
January 20, 2023
4,5/5. A reading experience! This book will be out there with House of Leaves and S. those book whose creativity and construction that show the necessity of paper, because you can experience a book like that on digital, it just won't be the same.

The originality of it is undeniable. The ideas behind it all, from the construction to the very storyline are great and will make you think a lot about consciousness, life and the universe (just that!).

My only complain about it and that's why I can give it a true five stars was the narrative, which at time, felt too long, and loose a bit of focus. I would still recommend reading it, even if this massive 976 dense pages will take you a while, it's worth it. The ending really wrap it all up in a very satisfying way and it wasn't easy to do so, I even had doubt at some point, but Rian Hughes did it right!

If you love those reading experience book, I would recommend House of Leaves (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) above all, than XX and finally S. (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) which I wouldn't personally recommend, but it's in this same weird category and could please some readers. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Mark.
564 reviews157 followers
January 23, 2022
Every now and then a book appears that tries to go beyond its prose format, to play not only with narrative structure but also the form of the message. I’m thinking Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man (1956) John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) or Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000), for example.

XX is one of those.

Whilst the initial story is nothing new, the way it is delivered is simply stunning.
The beginning is straight out of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass or perhaps Fred Hoyle’s A for Andromeda. At Jodrell Bank a mysterious signal of extra-terrestrial origin has been detected.

Jack Fenwick, artificial intelligence expert and on the autistic spectrum, thinks he can decode it.

But when he and his associates at Hoxton tech start-up Intelligencia find a way to step into the alien realm the signal encodes, they discover that it’s already occupied. There are ghostly entities known as ‘DMEn’ (Digital Memetic Entities) that may come from our own past. Have these ‘DMEn’ (Digital Memetic Entities) been created by persons unknown for such an eventuality? As the book continues we are set the quandry - are these DMEn our first line of defence in a coming war, not for territory, but for our minds?

As perhaps should be expected in our 21st century society, the means of collecting data and then deciphering it comes from many sources. This book plays on this by giving us a plethora of wide and often dissimilar sources of information so that the reader, like Jack, has to decipher the mystery themselves.

Facts and fiction combine, and we get stories within stories to such a level that I’ve not seen since Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. There are imaginary transcripts from NASA debriefs, newspaper and magazine articles, fictitious Wikipedia pages and even a non-fictional seventeenth century treatise called Cometographia by a real Johannis Hevelius, fictional book covers and even a spread on the (so far) undeciphered written language of Easter Island, Rongorongo, from a book called Language Lost: Undeciphered Scripts of the Ancient World.

Along the way we are shown elements of science, popular culture, comments on small business and social media. Texts and pictures zoom along, across, up and down the pages, interdispersed with sources written in different styles to give a broader, fuller understanding of the context in which this story is being played out.
It would be easy to claim that this is an example of style over substance, that the graphicacy of the novel detracts from the telling of the tale. But I found it clever and fascinating how all these disparate elements combine to get to the ending.

Stunningly imaginative, yet dramatically engaging, XX is a book that is more than a book. It has to be seen in its printed format to get a better idea of how it works, as I’m pretty sure that an e-copy or an audio version would not show the depth that some parts of this have been thought out to.

At 977 pages, often in small print, XX is not for the fainthearted. Admittedly some of those pages have visual graphics, and documents that go beyond the usual text format, but even so the novel could be intimidating. Those intrigued will find sifting the information and the puzzles they contain as much fun as reading the novel, although I must say that there are many red herrings to discover and blind alleyways to travel before reaching the end of this story, as the reader finds themselves following the same ideas and processes as Jack and his colleagues.

XX is an immersive experience that I found difficult to put down, coming back to it time and again after mulling on what I had read previously. One that I thought of for a long time after reading, I suspect that it will be one that repays repeated reading, too. Seriously impressive.
Profile Image for Fraser Simons.
Author 9 books243 followers
January 14, 2023
One of those books that define why I read science fiction. The plot, where a signal is received, the decoding and speculation of which bounces around to many people, and around relatively a similar time an object impacts the moon, set the two, I would say, main protagonists on a collision course.

One is a guy named Jack, with wild pattern recognition skills, and who pioneers the way in which the signal is interpreted and proved—the other, Dana, the astronaut that is sent to explore the impact crater on the moon.

From there, the story just gets more interesting as it goes. Slowly diverging from what I would call, initially, a pretty fun possible first contact story (kind of like Contact, actually). The science is crunchy, but the information design is fantastic. The presentation of the book is the best I’ve probably ever consumed. I could liken it to something like The House of Leaves, because it’s mixed media and what is occurring in the fiction impacts the layout of the text in really fun and emergent ways. There’s numerous meta components that intrude. There’s fictitious scientific articles and reporting on what’s happening in the fiction being generated.

There’s so many types of layout and font, I’m absolutely certain it’s the most complex book I’ve seen on that front, including House of Leaves, which actually ends up being more-or-less child’s play, comparatively. The attention to detail is just incredible. Much like, say, The Blind Assassin, there’s also a classic scifi serial that’s disseminated, and used as a tense pacing mechanic, where it’s double column and layed out like a magazine. But the flow is never interrupted. It’s easy to actually consume and the meta context stuff, I found to be really fun and interesting. I’ve no clue if the science holds up, but for those parts of it that could be, it is presented credibly, via credible means, even in dialogue. This has by far the most compelling aspects of current technologies on conceptual space and augmented reality.

You could boil down my excitement for the consumption of the book to: It’s form meeting function without getting in the way of a classic science fiction story, but feels far more updated and current with science and the general intellect unit, in general. It’s a beautiful artifact of a book too. Even the hardcover has been customized itself, and the endpapers too, adding to the flavour. It’s just a staggering piece of work. And, best of all, it actually makes you think about humanity in a new, interesting light; it’s what science fiction so rarely do these days. It’s super saturated with same-similar ideas, and not feeling remotely updated for where we are headed as a species. Most of the time they don’t even acknowledge the difference between how we were as a people before and after the internet, which is contrived, to say the least. And that’s the starting point for a lot of science fiction. See the wildly popular Project Hail Mary of last year as an example. The difference in the quality of characters, themes, ideas, and execution is just night and day. This is absolutely a new all-time favourite of mine.
Profile Image for Paige.
283 reviews32 followers
September 26, 2020
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Uh, okay. This book is kinda amazing? It took me a good few weeks to get through (which for me is super slow), and maaaaybe there was a bit in the middle that dragged for me. BUT the beginning and the end absolutely blew my mind and left me speechless.

There are many, many concepts in this book, from memetic entities to oxbows (not the river kind) and other intelligent life and just so many new ideas I'd never encountered before. The first 200 pages had me telling everyone I could that they need to read this and it's unlike anything I've ever read before. I stand by this still. But be prepared for this to absolutely not go where you think it will. At almost 1,000 pages the story grows and grows and the story at the start of the book morphs out of control into this heady, ephemeral story at the end. The last 50 pages had me tearing through it again and desperate to know more. That section reads like a whole other book in itself, and I loved it.

There's a portion in the middle where I started to get a little lost. It gets very scientific and mathematical. To the point where I wasn't entirely sure what was happening. But I don't think I missed out on too much, just some of the nuances got lost on me for a while there. The story moves from encompassing the Earth and the Moon to more or less being set in one office, and some things that seemed important before get left behind.

The typography and the design of this book more than makes up for any plot issues you might have. It is absolutely stunning, each choice fully backs whats happening, or who is speaking, and it really draws you in in a way that other books just simply can't. It's a joy to look at and I loved turning the page to see what I was going to encounter next.

I encourage you to read this. It is unlike anything I have ever read, and for me it's all worth it for that ending. My mind remains blown.
Profile Image for cat.
31 reviews
April 16, 2022
This isn't so much a review of the content of the book as it is minor commentary on the protagonist, but I am uniquely qualified on the subject at hand, so here we are. Hughes *deeply* wants his protagonist to be autistic, or at the very least neurodivergent, but he is, for some reason, unwilling to outright take that step forward. He is so unwilling, in fact, that he at one point describes the protagonist's smile as "r*tarded," alienating any neurodivergent reader who might have blithely thought to themselves "I relate to this protagonist :)" This book was written in 2020. Why are we still doing this. As an autistic person, I can confirm that we are actually all sexy and interesting, and actually *all* protagonists should be neurodivergent.

Seriously, though, I don't get it: why autistic-code a character and then start backpedaling when the reader assumes they're autistic? (I know the answer to this question, but I'd like to pretend that asking anyway makes a difference.)

"But oh!" you may cry. "Surely you didn't give the book three stars because you're sensitive about the autism thing!" And you're right. I gave it three stars because I was pretentious enough to read House of Leaves and now I chase after any book with vaguely weird formatting in hopes of repeating the experience. I'm not sure this book would have held my interest without the formatting, so it gets three stars.
1 review
November 21, 2020
This is the first time I've felt compelled to review a book. I came by this novel through following the music of DJ Food aka Strictly Kev aka Citizen Void, the artist behind 'The Celestial Mechanic' - the soundtrack to XX. This book lives up to the description 'mindblowing'. A sci-fi epic easily on the same scale as '2001' which keeps giving right up to its final pages. It's an absolute joy the way Mr Hughes' graphics, fonts and layout add to the storytelling and bring to life the uniquely imaginative events within. This story won me over even before the advent of the authentic serialised 60s sci-fi novella within which is an absolute thrill in its own right. Can't believe this is a debut novel. It is monumental in realising the breathtaking ideas it contains. Fantastic and thoroughly engaging from start to finish
Displaying 1 - 30 of 217 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.