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The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man

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A thrilling science fiction masterwork of experimental disaster from the bestselling author of the Fractured Europe series The Guardian labelled ‘Magnificent’.  When Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, it seems like a dream job. Then something goes wrong at the site. Very w A thrilling science fiction masterwork of experimental disaster from the bestselling author of the Fractured Europe series The Guardian labelled ‘Magnificent’.  When Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, it seems like a dream job. Then something goes wrong at the site. Very wrong. After the incident, Dolan finds himself changed, and the only one who can stop the disaster from destroying us all.


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A thrilling science fiction masterwork of experimental disaster from the bestselling author of the Fractured Europe series The Guardian labelled ‘Magnificent’.  When Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, it seems like a dream job. Then something goes wrong at the site. Very w A thrilling science fiction masterwork of experimental disaster from the bestselling author of the Fractured Europe series The Guardian labelled ‘Magnificent’.  When Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, it seems like a dream job. Then something goes wrong at the site. Very wrong. After the incident, Dolan finds himself changed, and the only one who can stop the disaster from destroying us all.

30 review for The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Welcome to Pulp-Land! In more ways than one! 1. 3/4 of the novel is about a slow-simmering failed science-writer landing a cush job to write a book for a tech millionaire who bought a town. Add a bit of espionage and some funny interpersonal experiences with his new home and neighbors, and I still had a fun time wondering HOW THE HELL THE TITLE FIT IN. This is old-school SF technique, btw. Total pulp. :) 2. The last part is TOTAL freaky quantum superhero stuff with time travel, telepo Welcome to Pulp-Land! In more ways than one! 1. 3/4 of the novel is about a slow-simmering failed science-writer landing a cush job to write a book for a tech millionaire who bought a town. Add a bit of espionage and some funny interpersonal experiences with his new home and neighbors, and I still had a fun time wondering HOW THE HELL THE TITLE FIT IN. This is old-school SF technique, btw. Total pulp. :) 2. The last part is TOTAL freaky quantum superhero stuff with time travel, teleportation, and pretty awesome callbacks to the events in the first 3/4. I had a total blast with this particular pulp. 3. Pulpy! Like, literally. An explosion of biomass! PULP-LAND! I had a good time. I didn't expect it to be like the Fractured Europe Sequence and I came into it expecting a light-hearted SF, and this is what I got. :) Kinda like orange juice. Freshly squeezed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. DNF'd @ 40% The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson sounded like it had a lot of potential, but unfortunately didn't work for me. I kept thinking this would take off, but I never took interest in the story, the world, or the characters. Thanks anyway, NetGalley.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Here's what I'd tell this author if I was his editor. Obviously, I'm not. Your prose is well above average. That's what kept me reading through the very slow first quarter; I don't know that it would do as much for most readers. Your structure, on the other hand, needs a lot of work. The first quarter consists entirely of a sad loser (one of my least favourite kinds of character, speaking for myself) resisting a decision that it's clear he will end up making. What's not clear is why he's resisti Here's what I'd tell this author if I was his editor. Obviously, I'm not. Your prose is well above average. That's what kept me reading through the very slow first quarter; I don't know that it would do as much for most readers. Your structure, on the other hand, needs a lot of work. The first quarter consists entirely of a sad loser (one of my least favourite kinds of character, speaking for myself) resisting a decision that it's clear he will end up making. What's not clear is why he's resisting it. Is he fiercely independent and doesn't like being railroaded? If so, you need to show that more obviously, and also make it a trait that carries through into the rest of the book. Likewise if he's just self-sabotaging. I couldn't figure out which one it was, or if it was something else, and it never ended up mattering anyway. The middle half is stronger, but at the three-quarter mark it takes a sharp left turn, and practically all the plot lines and characters that have been gradually developing through the middle are thrown away, never to be resolved. Your title promises, and the blurb hints, that this is a supers book. It isn't for the first three-quarters, and the last quarter is only a supers book if you're extremely generous with the definition. Then the ending is a complete damp fizzle. Here's what I suggest you do. Cut two-thirds of the first 75%, including most of the first 25%. Get rid of all the plotlines that go nowhere and the characters that disappear at the three-quarter mark for no particular reason except that the book has suddenly changed what it's about. If possible, bring in at least two of the three new characters you introduce in the last quarter (the Polish scientist and the two government agents); don't introduce significant new characters after the first act if you can help it. Develop the relationships with Wendy, the scientist from the early part, and if possible Rob Chen. They're underutilised. The relationship with Wendy doesn't have to be a romance (you briefly hint at the possibility, but never follow through), but it should be more than it is. Chen is a throwaway at the moment. You developed the relationship with Ralph, the old man next door, well; I want to see you do the same with other characters that last until the end of the book. And definitely develop the relationship with the villain. Perhaps you could toss in the theory that the reason Alex and he were the only ones who were able to leave after the accident was that they were having a confrontation at the time; either the emotional heightening or the physical proximity could provide an explanation for what is, at the moment, unexplained. It's fine if that's just a theory that never gets confirmed, but humans come up with theories to explain things. At the moment, no explanation is even attempted. Have the scientists at least figure something out, and show us a bit of their process, and their personal process around the scientific process. That's your chance to give the female characters, particularly Wendy, more to do; at the moment, they're tokens. "Look, my book has women scientists! Two of them!" Yes, well, good for you, but they don't play that much role in the plot, especially not as scientists, and not as fully realised people either. Instead of just having the agents tell Alex about the damage the villain's doing, have him go and see and feel the devastation it's causing for himself. Have him try to help the victims with his new powers, which are seriously underutilized; there's not even a suggestion that he should be considering the good he can do on a large scale. He barely does much on a small scale. The whole new middle should be about him trying to come to terms with his new powers, trying to use them in a way that matters, hitting limitations, discovering that helping people isn't simple, opening out beyond his self-absorption, differentiating himself from the villain, and becoming more determined to stop the villain. Give me a reason to be emotionally invested. Lead up to the second confrontation with the villain, and make it the turning point of Act 3, not just an inconclusive thing that happened without much foreshadowing or emotional weight. Then show us how things resolve for the characters we've now come to care about. Not everything needs to wrap up in a neat bow, but something needs to resolve. At the moment, the ending is nothing. It has no thematic resonance (in part because the book is so disjointed), it has no sense of a plot coming to a conclusion, it's just a place where you stop writing. Everything has changed for Alex, but nothing has changed for him. Give him an internal journey to match his external one. In the current version, the book Alex is writing never comes together and ends up just being lost, uncompleted. I assume that's not intended as a metaphor for this book, but it certainly could be. If you wrote the book I describe above, or anything close to it, it could be a five-star book for me. You're a clever writer. You could make it not cliched, you could have things that are left unsettled, you could avoid turning it into a Hollywood cookie-cutter plot. Yes, it's more conventional than what you've done, but classics are classics because they work. As it stands, your version only makes it to three stars because of the quality of the prose; structurally and in terms of pacing, it doesn't work for me at all, and I think there are serious missteps. It's certainly not the "thrilling science fiction masterwork" that the blurb promises. (I received a review copy via Netgalley.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Koeur

    Rating: 2.1/5 Review: What draws you into this novel is Dolan’s- sometimes rhetorical- but often acerbic perspective on his current circumstances and interactions. This drives the novel, along with the eccentric writer and his farting dog. I can’t say why (spoilers and all that) but the story line descends into a disappointing melange of time scripted events that leaves the once bold characters behind. What could have been a somewhat whimsical and endearing story that brings a bit o/> Rating: 2.1/5 Review: What draws you into this novel is Dolan’s- sometimes rhetorical- but often acerbic perspective on his current circumstances and interactions. This drives the novel, along with the eccentric writer and his farting dog. I can’t say why (spoilers and all that) but the story line descends into a disappointing melange of time scripted events that leaves the once bold characters behind. What could have been a somewhat whimsical and endearing story that brings a bit of fullness to the characters (i.e. Still Life with Woodpecker), ends rather abruptly and without regard. So a star for each character and a bit for the dog. Fu book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cullen

    Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy. It pains me to give three stars to this, as I am such a big fan of Hutchinson's Fractured Europe Sequence, and have thoroughly enjoyed his other works as well. I had two major problems with this: Problem one: The pacing. It's called The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. There's a picture of an incredible exploding man on the cover. You would think the book would largely be about an incredible exploding man, right? No. The first 80% of/>Problem Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy. It pains me to give three stars to this, as I am such a big fan of Hutchinson's Fractured Europe Sequence, and have thoroughly enjoyed his other works as well. I had two major problems with this: Problem one: The pacing. It's called The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. There's a picture of an incredible exploding man on the cover. You would think the book would largely be about an incredible exploding man, right? No. The first 80% of the book is kind of a mystery story about an author exploring a town and its particle collider facility. This might work alright, except that 80% is really not that enjoyable to read. Partly because of... Problem two: The writing. I've read six other books by this author and always felt his writing varied between pretty good and excellent. Here I started to notice sentence constructions that were used all the time. Almost every page had one or two exchanges of dialog that were prefaced by a level stare or a grin. It got very distracting. The characters were also not fleshed out particularly well, and some of the subplots just went... nowhere. Europe in Autumn worked so well because it had a well-written and interesting story about near-future espionage, and hits you with a sudden high-concept sci-fi curveball in the final act. This book seems to try to recapture that formula, except the story isn't well-written or particularly interesting, and the sci-fi curveball is prominently displayed in the title and on the cover. Maybe if the title of the book had been The Arrival of the Pudgy and Awkward Science Writer the final act could have made this into a 3.5 or 4 star book, but the writing would still be holding it back. More realistically, the first 200 pages could have been shortened to the first 30 pages of a really good novella.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    I enjoyed quite a lot of The Return Of The Incredible Exploding Man, but I had some pretty severe reservations about it. The first thing to say is that Dave Hutchinson writes very well. I’m not normally much of a sci-fi fan, but he developed such a good sense of slow menace and a lot of very good, complex characters that I was very drawn in to the quite slow-paced first two-thirds of the book in which the protagonist, a struggling science writer, is brought in to write about a huge, p I enjoyed quite a lot of The Return Of The Incredible Exploding Man, but I had some pretty severe reservations about it. The first thing to say is that Dave Hutchinson writes very well. I’m not normally much of a sci-fi fan, but he developed such a good sense of slow menace and a lot of very good, complex characters that I was very drawn in to the quite slow-paced first two-thirds of the book in which the protagonist, a struggling science writer, is brought in to write about a huge, privately funded supercollider. There are some quite shrewd, well balanced observations about the way in which the super-rich behave toward the rest of us and Hutchinson creates a group of people with whom I became quite involved. The trouble is, there is a massive event about two-thirds of the way through which changes everything, including the tone and pace of the book, and all those people are quite quickly left behind as the story moves on at a time-skimming pace. It’s reasonably interesting from a sci-fi point of view, but not very well developed and ultimately a disappointment. Hutchinson seems to be setting us up for a series (or a sequel at least). Despite my enjoyment of the first section, I don’t think I’ll be bothering with any more because I thought the later parts were much weaker. Others may fell differently, but overall I can’t really recommend this. (My thanks to Solaris for an ARC via NetGalley.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Harris

    I'm grateful to the publisher for providing me with a free advance e-copy of this book via NetGalley to consider for review. This is a slightly deceptive book (which to me is a Good Thing: see below for why) as despite the pulpy title (and image) Hutchinson delivers what seems at first to be quite a restrained story. Alex Dolan is a washed up journalist, cast overboard as media transforms and traditional titles founder, who is rescued from debt by billionaire Stanislaw Clayton ('Stan' I'm grateful to the publisher for providing me with a free advance e-copy of this book via NetGalley to consider for review. This is a slightly deceptive book (which to me is a Good Thing: see below for why) as despite the pulpy title (and image) Hutchinson delivers what seems at first to be quite a restrained story. Alex Dolan is a washed up journalist, cast overboard as media transforms and traditional titles founder, who is rescued from debt by billionaire Stanislaw Clayton ('Stan'). Clayton is pouring money into a new high energy physics project, the Sioux Crossing Supercollider ('SCS') designed to investigate and manipulate gravity - but things aren't going well and he wants to generate some positive publicity for the enterprise. So Alex is invited to stay in Sioux City, a slice of small-town America apparently preserved from ruin and decay by Clayton's billions. No, not apparently. It has been preserved - or where necessary, rebuilt. The locals are in equal measure resentful to an all-powerful outsider and desperate for Clayton to continue his support, giving Dolan some difficulties in coming up with an interesting angle on the SCS. It's a delight to read about Alex's encounters with Sioux City and its residents (both locals and the staff of the SCS), his very slowly growing misgivings that everything seems too perfect, and the undercurrent of weirdness that pervades Sioux City (from the basement full of guns in his rental house to yellowing newspaper stories describing strange past events). Hutchinson gives us an even paced, shrewd, and cooly perceptive vision of the place and its people, allowing it to unroll gradually, with the details of everyday life - getting lost on an unmarked road, dealing with a gonzo physicist who frequents seedy bars (OK, maybe that's not 'everyday') or playing chess with a neighbour - given weight and significance (as are the comparisons between pretty, lucky Sioux Crossing and the less well kept, indeed downright shabby, towns that surround it). I found all this a joy. For the reader demanding instant action, little may seem to be going on but for me, it is all happening, even as Alex struggles to get a grip on the book Clayton wants written and small obstacles begin to appear in his way. Hutchinson has I think a real knack for getting under the skin of life, making the ordinary significant and drawing his readers in through detail and cool observations rather than lectures and infodumps. But yes, there is a point where everything changes and this becomes a rather different sort of a book. It's hard to say a lot about this for fear of spoilers. The weirdness begins to show more and more, and Alex becomes the focus for someone with a grudge. His discomfort with this is in no small part due to his having a connection with British intelligence, which makes cooperating with the Local Police Department to get to the bottom of the crimes rather difficult (and given how friendly the locals are, itself racks him with guilt and indecision). Strange things begin to happen, which both acknowledges and denied by those around him, the basic weirdness of Sioux City itself providing a disorienting background to what is now going on. The closing part of the book is then definitely fully science-fictional and builds skilfully on the earlier narrative, with mysteries explained (apart - I think - from one - why a certain person was driving a certain car just before the story turned?).This end part is satisfying in itself, if startling, but I was a little sad that so many strands from the earlier, gentler part were left unresolved: the enigmatic Clayton, the book Alex was writing, his relationship with Wendy, the prickly, hostile Prof. Delahaye who takes against Alex. I could easily have read a book twice the length which went into these things in more detail. All in all this is an absorbing book, great fun to read with an intriguing mystery at its heart.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shihab Azhar

    I grew up in a city and in a time without bookstores. There were plenty of booksellers, though, selling the stuff people most wanted to read - the Stephen Kings, the Danielle Steele's. There were only a few who stocked less popular books, wrapped in clear plastic to ward off fingerprints and dust. When I had finally exhausted the local inventory, I went to these shops to discover new authors and new stories, and I had no way to judge the books other than by their covers, since the sellers would I grew up in a city and in a time without bookstores. There were plenty of booksellers, though, selling the stuff people most wanted to read - the Stephen Kings, the Danielle Steele's. There were only a few who stocked less popular books, wrapped in clear plastic to ward off fingerprints and dust. When I had finally exhausted the local inventory, I went to these shops to discover new authors and new stories, and I had no way to judge the books other than by their covers, since the sellers would not remove the plastic unless you bought the books. And that is how I have discovered some of my favorites authors - for example The Sacred Art of Stealing took me down a very enjoyable Christopher Brookmyre rabbit hole, and I have happily read most of his stories. Sometimes, such a practice of judging a book by its cover has not failed me, but it isn't always foolproof as the adage says. But it is an unconscious practice honed by experience. And with this book, it paid off. I had heard of the author in passing, particularly because of his sci fi awards, and so thought I would give this book a shot when I saw it on Netgalley, since it seemed like a standalone book and the cover seemed intriguing. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me read this before publication. I really really enjoyed this book - in fact, if I had to pick one word to describe the experience, I would say it was a very enjoyable read. This is despite the many contradictions that it left behind. First of all, the main character Alex. I very much liked how relatable he was - the sense of constant befuddlement that he felt at his situation throughout the book was superbly written, but at the same time made me want to scream at him internally on various occasions - I haven't felt so much for a book character in a while. Second, I loved that the author didn't try to spend a lot of time trying to explain everything - quite a few things were left unresolved, which is perfectly fine. I don't need a detailed explanation for all of the science behind the science fiction to enjoy the book. Plus I enjoyed how there was no super-scientist who figured it all out which would ruin the story. But some readers might be a bit turned off by how the author sometimes throws in a few scientific terms - gravitons, gravity shear - as possible explanations, only for none of the ideas to take root. Frankly, readers need to suspend their need for an explanation and let the story itself overtake you - which I find the book really does well. Finally, I loved the ending. There is no resolution or pay-off at the very end, and I quite liked that. Readers who prefer everything wrapped up and tied with a bow - and I admit there is a part of me that wants similar endings - might be a bit disappointed, but I thought the story that it tries to tell rather deserves the ending, and that it is difficult to try and end it neatly. Unlike other similar books, I liked that it felt like the ending was planned all along - it didn't feel like the author had run out of ideas and was struggling to end the book. Plus I am excited by the potential for the story and the universe to continue in future books - I wouldn't mind returning to another journey into this world in the future. The only thing that was a negative to me about the book - and it is a very minor point - was that it felt to me that the author has a tremendous sense of humor that he was intentionally trying to limit. There were significant moments of levity - but I couldn't help feel like the author had much more in store that was left out that would have been amazing to have. It is a bit hard to explain - I don't want a laugh-out-loud book because I am not sure how it would contrast with the rest of the story, but I couldn't help feel the author was holding back on the jokes. I'm really happy I got the chance to read this book, and many thanks again to Netgalley and the publisher. Now, if you excuse me, I think I see a Dave Hutchinson-shaped rabbit hole of books that I need to go jump down.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    Hutchinson follows on from his painfully prescient Fractured Europe series with another, possibly even nearer future story; aside from the references to 7G, and the MAGA caps being faded, it could pretty much be today. Stan Clayton, a Musk/Bezos-style zillionaire, has bought up an Iowa county pretty much wholesale, and is installing a larger than Large Hadron Collider there. Protagonist Alex, a broke Scottish tech journalist, is Stan's choice to spread the good word about the project, and evoke Hutchinson follows on from his painfully prescient Fractured Europe series with another, possibly even nearer future story; aside from the references to 7G, and the MAGA caps being faded, it could pretty much be today. Stan Clayton, a Musk/Bezos-style zillionaire, has bought up an Iowa county pretty much wholesale, and is installing a larger than Large Hadron Collider there. Protagonist Alex, a broke Scottish tech journalist, is Stan's choice to spread the good word about the project, and evoke the requisite 'sensawunda'. There's a faintly creepy air about the whole set-up, but is that just standard late stage capitalism creepy, or something stranger going on? At first, it feels like a technothriller, albeit a fairly sedate and slow-building one. There's even a touch of Stephen King in the detailed depiction of the small-town setting and Alex's developing bonds with its inhabitants. But there's too slow a parcelling out of the spooky stuff, and it doesn't help that anyone who's read a comic* should be able to work out most of the solution to the mysterious happenings almost immediately. And then in the final quarter of the book, things speed up considerably, and we power through three or four genres in next to no time - but an awful lot of the story still involves sitting around and waiting for things. Which was an element in Fractured Europe too, and is a big part of life, and maybe part of what interests Hutchinson as a writer is precisely to reflect that in genre fiction. But it still makes for a certain grind in the experience of reading this. *By which I mean one specific comic, but also that, if you've read any American-style comics at all, you've more than likely read this one. (Netgalley ARC)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson is a highly recommended science fiction thriller. Multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton has bought a town and county in Iowa to build his dream supercollider, but now he needs someone to write about the evolution of Sioux Crossing and his project. Clayton recruits and hires Alex Dolan to write some articles and a book about the Sioux Crossing, Iowa, Supercollider. Alex is a Scottish science/tech journalist living in Boston who The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson is a highly recommended science fiction thriller. Multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton has bought a town and county in Iowa to build his dream supercollider, but now he needs someone to write about the evolution of Sioux Crossing and his project. Clayton recruits and hires Alex Dolan to write some articles and a book about the Sioux Crossing, Iowa, Supercollider. Alex is a Scottish science/tech journalist living in Boston who has been struggling to make a living, so the generous offer is too tempting to pass up. When Alex arrives to look over the town and everyone in the town knows who he is and why he is there, he begins to find the town a little unsettling, especially when a few people tell him to get out why he can. Alex, however, needs the money and can't back out anyway because a spy at the British embassy in Minneapolis has contacted him and threatened deportation if he doesn't spy on the facility for him. From this beginning, when it seems to be just a mystery and you're expecting problems on the collider campus, the narrative rolls along, intriguing and interesting with little sightings and observations of odd, disturbing occurrences popping up now and then. And, make no mistake, it is a compelling plot and had my attention but I was waiting for the titular theme promised by the title. When that hits, in the last quarter of the book, the novel absolutely erupts and I dare you to set it aside. It's at this point that the narrative is all-consuming, riveting and engrossing. There was no way I was going to stop reading. Now, I'm going to admit that there were some issues with the narrative, especially in saving the big bang for essentially the end, when it could have been explored and used to the advantage of the plot sooner. The lead up to the final quarter was great as a mystery, but it would have made for an even stronger and more exciting story line if what was the last twenty-five percent of the plot had been extended and further developed. The ending felt rushed and I was left wanting more. I did like it quite a bit, though, and do highly recommend The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Solaris. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/0...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Runalong

    A title that weirdly surprised you by going for a largely realistic SF thriller then really taking a turn into big and loud SF - very good!! Full review - https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anna Szabó

    It felt like this was 2 different books in 1. The first 75% was a simple fiction novel with character building and some science. And then came the last 25% of the story which was insane, incredible greatly insane. Alex Dolan is a science journalist who has seen better days. Now he is in serious need of money so after some careful thinking he accepts the job offer of Stanoslaw Clayton who is the CEO of Clayton Dynamics. The job is to write a book about Sioux Crossing Supercollider. Clayton want t It felt like this was 2 different books in 1. The first 75% was a simple fiction novel with character building and some science. And then came the last 25% of the story which was insane, incredible greatly insane. Alex Dolan is a science journalist who has seen better days. Now he is in serious need of money so after some careful thinking he accepts the job offer of Stanoslaw Clayton who is the CEO of Clayton Dynamics. The job is to write a book about Sioux Crossing Supercollider. Clayton want to use the collider to research gravity. This was supposed to be an easy job but when something goes horribly wrong, Alex’s life turns upside down. I wasn’t really sure what to expect after reading the book’s description but this was so not it. I liked Alex instantly, he is a smart, cocky guy. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and Dave Hutchinson for my copy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man By Dave Hutchinson I gobbled this book up in just a couple of days! Dave Hutchinson is the king of rising dread! The story is building towards a big event, which happens 75% of the way into the novel, but Dave Hutchinson keeps his cards very close to his chest! He gives you just enough to hint at what's going on - but I wouldn't put any money on it if I were you! The Protagonist: Alex Dolan the Scot, in B The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man By Dave Hutchinson I gobbled this book up in just a couple of days! Dave Hutchinson is the king of rising dread! The story is building towards a big event, which happens 75% of the way into the novel, but Dave Hutchinson keeps his cards very close to his chest! He gives you just enough to hint at what's going on - but I wouldn't put any money on it if I were you! The Protagonist: Alex Dolan the Scot, in Boston (Bawston), USA Alex, a science journalist, has my kind of humour! I laughed quite a few times at his dry wit and irreverent sarcasm. The Premise The premise of the book is that Alex's life is efficiently and unashamedly hacked by the billionaire Stanislaw Clayton (because apparently the line between research and hacking is moot when you've got that kind of money), and he uses that information to make Alex an offer that he can't refuse. Stanislaw commissions Alex to write a book about his latest science project, but to do that, Alex has to move to a new town: Sioux Crossing in Iowa Alex finds the whole 'newness' of the place so strange. Too good to be true. And it's not just Sioux Crossing that feels off. Right from the beginning of the story and Alex's very first encounter with Stanislaw, right to the end of the book, something never feels quite right. Dave Hutchinson gives you plenty of clues, which don't offer any clarity, however, but rather add to the descending haze of mystery. Character-Driven Story My favourite characters are Alex's good friend Ralph, also a (former) writer, and Ralph's flatulent dog Homer. It's worth reading the book just for them! Alex and Ralph (and Homer) also develop a great friendship with Wendy (a scientist working on Stanislaw Clayton's project), and the dynamic between them is brilliant! Larry Day, the rockstar scientist, is a central (but very enigmatic) character. He's more of a presence on the page rather than a character we get to interact with long enough to figure him out. We don't become aware of Larry until about a third of the way into the book, and even then we meet his bright red 1968 Ford Mustang GT before we meet him! Larry's reputation precedes him, as is often the way with rockstars - or so I've heard. Every page is ripe with potential for everything to kick-off, yet mostly not a great deal is happening; which is great for character-driven stories - especially when the characters are Alex, Ralph and Homer. I could read about them all day! I'd say that the first 75% of the book is very character-driven, mysterious and suspenseful. The rest is a mixture of character, and SciFi-fuelled drama! The Science The science and the weird and wonderful things that happen towards the end of the book are dealt with in such a matter-of-fact way (and in human speak), that when what's happening in the room is juxtaposed with the underwhelmed (almost bored) reactions of the characters present, it's actually quite comical. The nearest comparison I could think of is the contrast between making a movie versus watching a movie. This book takes you behind the scenes on the action. There are no clever camera angles, there's no dramatic music, and there are no lingering shots or heroic gestures. Dave Hutchinson very successfully keeps it real in a very surreal situation. That said, visually it would be incredibly entertaining if this was made into a movie, but without the typical Hollywood sheen. With all this mad stuff happening on screen and it barely raising an eyebrow from the group of bored scientists, it might raise a chuckle or two. 'Sensawunda'! There is so much I would love to say about this book, but I don't want to spoil it for you! The ending is fantastic and absolutely makes it worth the wait. There is also definite potential for a spin-off; but if Dave Hutchinson doesn't write one, I may just try my hand at a piece of fan fiction because this story has my imagination absolutely buzzing! So grab hold of a copy when it's published by Rebellion on 3rd September 2019 and read it! Side note: This book is listed on NetGalley as 'General Fiction (Adult), SciFi & Fantasy,' but I'd say it reads strongly like 'General Fiction (Adult), SciFi, Mystery, Suspense Drama.' Thanks for reading! D x

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard Bryant

    Dave Hutchinson has written the critically acclaimed Europe sequence of books. Whilst this story may have a title that makes it sound like a reboot of a lesser known Marvel super-hero, it is an intriguing slow-burning mystery that has a spectacular ending, which I won't ruin for potential readers. Alex Dolan is a Scottish born tech-journalist living in Boston. The slow death of traditional journalism in the free Information Age has hit him hard and he is struggling to make a living. Financi Dave Hutchinson has written the critically acclaimed Europe sequence of books. Whilst this story may have a title that makes it sound like a reboot of a lesser known Marvel super-hero, it is an intriguing slow-burning mystery that has a spectacular ending, which I won't ruin for potential readers. Alex Dolan is a Scottish born tech-journalist living in Boston. The slow death of traditional journalism in the free Information Age has hit him hard and he is struggling to make a living. Financial salvation is offered by Stan Clayton, the world's fifth richest person. Clayton has something of the 'Elon Musk' spirit about him; entrepreneurial, seeking to push the boundaries of technology and looking to inspire people with tales of wonder. Clayton has purchased large parts of Iowa on which he has built a particle super-collider. He wants Dolan to write some articles and a book about the project. Dolan is offered the freedom to write what he wants but he is stubborn; Clayton's wealth and the promise of a large pay-packet don't impress him. Reluctantly, Dolan agrees to at least consider the offer and to look around the town of Sioux Falls, a town that had fallen on hard times before Clayton started investing heavily in the area. Dolan meets a number of locals, some tell him to get away while he can, others cannot see why he would turn down Clayton's offer, which involves salary, a line of credit to buy essentials and a house. Whilst he is mulling the offer, Dolan is staying in a very plush hotel suite. Whilst there, he hears a strange scrabbling knock at the door, which leads to a visit from the police. Dolan wonders what has happened in the past to make the police interested in such a mundane occurrence. There are other sporadic reports of strange sightings in Sioux Falls but little in the way of detail. The previous occupants of Dolan's house left in a hurry, leaving lots of their possessions in the basement. Dolan tracks them down and they mention they had a visitation, although it's not clear whether this was real or imagined. Dolan's research takes him on and around the site of the super-collider, where he spots Larry Day, a scientific genius but an unstable and dangerous personality. Day likes to push boundaries without thoughts about potential consequences. During a barbecue he has arranged for friends and neighbours, Dolan's house catches fire. Whilst evacuating the house, Dolan sees a man made of static. A number of other unfortunate incidents add to the mystery of what is actually happening in Sioux Falls. Dolan believes that Larry Day may have the answer. He attempts to confront him at the super-collider just as an experiment is taking place. And then things become ......weird, and riveting. After a measured and slow-paced meander that feels as though it will end with a whodunnit/whatdunnit explanation, the book goes somewhere I was not expecting it to. It's a fantastic turn and makes the book feel unusual. I was reminded of some Philip K Dick novels in which he took the floor from under you when your expectations may have been set. This is a great science fiction book and well worth reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maya Panika

    The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is a book of two halves, both of which are enormously readable and enjoyable. The first two thirds of the tale moves at an easy pace and tells the tale of Alex Dolan, a more-or-less failed science-journalist, unemployed and facing deportation, who suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself head-hunted by Stanislaw ‘Stan’ Clayton, the world’s richest man. Stan has built a supercollider to rival CERN in the middle-of-nowhere, middle-American town of Sioux Cr The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is a book of two halves, both of which are enormously readable and enjoyable. The first two thirds of the tale moves at an easy pace and tells the tale of Alex Dolan, a more-or-less failed science-journalist, unemployed and facing deportation, who suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself head-hunted by Stanislaw ‘Stan’ Clayton, the world’s richest man. Stan has built a supercollider to rival CERN in the middle-of-nowhere, middle-American town of Sioux Crossing. Alex will be handsomely paid, comfortably housed and well looked after, and all he has to do is write a book and place articles in the media that shine the best possible light on Stan’s ambitious vanity project. It is the answer to all Alex’s troubles, the job of his dreams. For Alex, it all seems too good to be true. For most of its length, the story unfolds slowly, but always entertainingly, as Alex attempts to make sense of his odd job, his alien environment and all the peculiar events that keep occurring. Then everything changes. An Event occurs that completely alters the trajectory of the story and changes Alex’s life in the most profound way imaginable. The tale really picks up speed at this point; the plot moves at a cracking pace as The Event and subsequent fall-out are told in real-time and retrospect. The tale is ret-conned; past events are given a kind of meaning. Things become complex. There’s some fiendishly complicated science here that is, for the most part, glossed over, and thank goodness for it. There is a refreshing lack of fakery and gobbledygook that I really did appreciate as the story grew ever more outlandish. Alex’s experiences in the ‘Manifold’ are elegantly told with eloquent simplicity. The science never takes over or gets in the way of the plot. It never lost the sense of the story, and the story never loses its sense of fun. At times, the plot is perhaps too simple. A lot seems have got lost towards the end as the book rolled smoothly to its satisfying climax. It felt to me that a fair bit of this section of the story was edited out to quicken the pace, and I’m not sure it was all for the best. I would have liked a slower unfolding and a little more explanation — what happened to Stan, and Ralph? Did I miss something or did they simply disappear from the story? Why was Larry so ghastly? - I would have liked to have known more, though there is a perverse kind of pleasure in not knowing too much. There are no major plot twists (I can’t have been the only reader who guessed from the very start the origins of the odd electrical events and the re-appearing ‘angel’), but the story is always fascinating. It kept me reading, and there were more than enough surprises to keep things interesting. All told, this is a spankingly good story with well-developed characters, which is not often true in SF. A true page turner with a healthy dash of humour; an easy read that I found extremely hard to put down.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gareth Egerton

    I received a copy of this book as an ARC via #Netgalley. Thank you. Alex Dolan is a Scottish ex-pat living in Boston. An unemployed science journalist, he spends his days floating article ideas to magazines and avoiding his landlord on the stairs. So, when he receives a job offer from Sebastian Clayton, 5th richest man in the world, he's not really in a position to refuse. Having accepted the job, to write a book chronicling work to bring the Sioux Crossing Supercollider on I received a copy of this book as an ARC via #Netgalley. Thank you. Alex Dolan is a Scottish ex-pat living in Boston. An unemployed science journalist, he spends his days floating article ideas to magazines and avoiding his landlord on the stairs. So, when he receives a job offer from Sebastian Clayton, 5th richest man in the world, he's not really in a position to refuse. Having accepted the job, to write a book chronicling work to bring the Sioux Crossing Supercollider online, Alex finds himself transported to to Sioux Crossing itself, a county almost entirely owned and rebuilt by Stan Clayton and populated by a mix of the original residents and scientists and personnel from the SCS facility. And things start to get strange almost mediately. How does everyone he meets seem to know who he is and where he lives? Is his house bugged? Why did the former occupants leave all their stuff behind? And what should he make of all the sightings around town of an “angel”? OK, first off, let me clarify that The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is NOT a sequel. So, don't waste any rime trying to find “The Incredible Exploding Man” at your local book store or library. Not that you would, you're way smarter than that. I am a fan of Dave Hutchinson. His Fractured Europe Sequence was brilliant and TROFIEM (as we shall henceforth refer to it) is just as enjoyable, the writing style even more so as the prose is a lot simpler and easier to enjoy. There are many characters that you'll meet and like. The cynical local newspaper reporter, the scientist that Alex befriends and the grouchy neighbour and his farting dog. And the mystery of what is happening in Sioux Crossing and whether Alex is really being surveilled is intriguing and it's all presented in a funny, entertaining way. BUT This book ultimately feels unfinished. The first three quarters set the premise and the tone, they lay the groundwork for a deeper mystery behind the town and the SCS, they hint at sinister machinations and histories behind the actions of various characters.....and then nothing. The final quarter just comes at you like a rush and you feel a little bit cheated by everything that came before because, ultimately, none of it was especially necessary. And that is why, as much as I enjoyed reading The Return Of The Incredible Exploding Man, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone simply because I wouldn't like to set them up for the same disappointment. (Caveat: if it turns out that this is only the first book in a new series and everything in the first part

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gareth Egerton

    Alex Dolan is a Scottish ex-pat living in Boston. An unemployed science journalist, he spends his days floating article ideas to magazines and avoiding his landlord on the stairs. So, when he receives a job offer from Sebastian Clayton, 5th richest man in the world, he's not really in a position to refuse. Having accepted the job, to write a book chronicling work to bring the Sioux Crossing Supercollider online, Alex finds himself transported to to Sioux Crossing itself, a county almo Alex Dolan is a Scottish ex-pat living in Boston. An unemployed science journalist, he spends his days floating article ideas to magazines and avoiding his landlord on the stairs. So, when he receives a job offer from Sebastian Clayton, 5th richest man in the world, he's not really in a position to refuse. Having accepted the job, to write a book chronicling work to bring the Sioux Crossing Supercollider online, Alex finds himself transported to to Sioux Crossing itself, a county almost entirely owned and rebuilt by Stan Clayton and populated by a mix of the original residents and scientists and personnel from the SCS facility. And things start to get strange almost mediately. How does everyone he meets seem to know who he is and where he lives? Is his house bugged? Why did the former occupants leave all their stuff behind? And what should he make of all the sightings around town of an “angel”? OK, first off, let me clarify that The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is NOT a sequel. So, don't waste any rime trying to find “The Incredible Exploding Man” at your local book store or library. Not that you would, you're way smarter than that. I am a fan of Dave Hutchinson. His Fractured Europe Sequence was brilliant and TROFIEM (as we shall henceforth refer to it) is just as enjoyable, the writing style even more so as the prose is a lot simpler and easier to enjoy. There are many characters that you'll meet and like. The cynical local newspaper reporter, the scientist that Alex befriends and the grouchy neighbour and his farting dog. And the mystery of what is happening in Sioux Crossing and whether Alex is really being surveilled is intriguing and it's all presented in a funny, entertaining way. BUT This book ultimately feels unfinished. The first three quarters set the premise and the tone, they lay the groundwork for a deeper mystery behind the town and the SCS, they hint at sinister machinations and histories behind the actions of various characters.....and then nothing. The final quarter just comes at you like a rush and you feel a little bit cheated by everything that came before because, ultimately, none of it was especially necessary. And that is why, as much as I enjoyed reading The Return Of The Incredible Exploding Man, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone simply because I wouldn't like to set them up for the same disappointment. (Caveat: if it turns out that this is only the first book in a new series and everything in the first part

  18. 4 out of 5

    FuriousFiction

    Back in 2007, Heroes was a popular TV show, the finale was called How to Stop An Exploding Man. Throughout the series, comic art showed the "exploding man", it was imagery that stayed with me ever since. It's an image that I held in my mind as I was reading this novel. Following his successful Fractured Europe series, Dave Hutchinson brings us the tale of Alex Dolan. Leith-native, relocated to Boston, trying to earn a living as a freelance science journalist. He's offered the job of a lifetime, Back in 2007, Heroes was a popular TV show, the finale was called How to Stop An Exploding Man. Throughout the series, comic art showed the "exploding man", it was imagery that stayed with me ever since. It's an image that I held in my mind as I was reading this novel. Following his successful Fractured Europe series, Dave Hutchinson brings us the tale of Alex Dolan. Leith-native, relocated to Boston, trying to earn a living as a freelance science journalist. He's offered the job of a lifetime, contracted to write a book and articles about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider - like the Large Hadron Collider, but bigger. Alex finds himself taken on a whirlwind trip to the Bay Area to meet the man funding the collider, before being deposited in Sioux Crossing, Iowa, to see the town and campus for himself, before deciding whether to accept the job or not. And something isn't right. There is something unsettling in the town and the people, and the writing makes me feel like I imagine Alex to be feeling - what the hell is going on here? What am I not being told? And I had to keep reading to find out. Everything seems too perfect, far too good to be true, but there's a feeling that there's something going on that people aren't talking about. With his journalistic curiosity piqued, he accepts the job. Moving into a neighbourhood just out of Sioux Crossing, his new neighbour is an disgraced and irascible writer. The previous residents of his new house have left everything behind, and everyone in town When the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was powered on, I remember being terrified that the world was going to end, or there would be some sort of freak accident. Once the Sioux Crossing Supercollider is switched on in the novel, all my fears no longer seem so irrational. I pretty much spent the last quarter of the novel open-mouthed. While the Exploding Man of the title isn't a central figure until later in the novel, I enjoyed the build up. The novel reads as a mystery novel rather than straight sci-fi, and is very easy to dive into, before finding that hours have passed without you noticing. Thank you to the publisher, Rebellion Publishing, and NetGalley for the advanced digital copy of this novel for review. The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is released on September 3 2019, and I've already pre-ordered my copy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anjana

    There is a randomness to this tale that might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you expect something of that sort to occur, you might just like the story.  For some strange and inexplicable reason, I had fun reading this book. I say strange because I am not sure I could convey to you why that might be the case but I am going to give it a try. This has sci-fi as the backbone of the narrative but it all about Alex. Alex Dolan is stuck in a hard place, he has no job prospects until som There is a randomness to this tale that might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you expect something of that sort to occur, you might just like the story.  For some strange and inexplicable reason, I had fun reading this book. I say strange because I am not sure I could convey to you why that might be the case but I am going to give it a try. This has sci-fi as the backbone of the narrative but it all about Alex. Alex Dolan is stuck in a hard place, he has no job prospects until something strange drops into his lap. It should wipe away all his worries but it just makes him more curious. The first half of the story is about how Alex builds a new life and the second (smaller half) is all about how he has to do that all over again. The crowning glory of the book is the narration which kept up this interesting tempo making you curious about the whys of the events that unfold. The only thing is that we may not get all the answers. I am usually someone who needs everything tied up in a bow to move on from a book but some things here kept me from ripping my hair out in any form of frustration. I think it was the subtle tongue-in-cheek remarks about the events that pepper the background with interesting stories or even the fact that almost nothing gets tied up in a bow. These little things have you follow Alex's adventure with no expectations for how things turn out. The last chapter was surprisingly satisfying despite its vagueness ( it is not a spoiler, just a heads-up from someone who actually liked it). I am saying as little as possible about the actual situations themselves as it is more fun to watch it unravel a little at a time as you read the book. I liked the people I encountered and I had my paranoid moments as well as trusting ones with the lead protagonist(s) and sometimes I suspected I missed something with my speed of reading and actually had the time and patience to go back and reread parts of it! Overall I recommend this book to those on the lookout for a different kind of read and find this review even remotely stimulating.  I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is completely based on my own reading experience.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Nightshade

    he Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. I thought was a sequel but it appears to be the first one, although the author has a short story about the Incredible Exploding Man. I only mention this as it may be off putting to a reader. I was excited to read this book however, it’s blurb and cover being very appealing. The story starts with a failing scientific journalist being poached by a multi-billionaire to write a book about a supercollider he is funding. It’s a slow burner of a boo he Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. I thought was a sequel but it appears to be the first one, although the author has a short story about the Incredible Exploding Man. I only mention this as it may be off putting to a reader. I was excited to read this book however, it’s blurb and cover being very appealing. The story starts with a failing scientific journalist being poached by a multi-billionaire to write a book about a supercollider he is funding. It’s a slow burner of a book that suited me. I enjoyed reading of the struggles he goes through deciding whether to take the assignment and his gradual integration into the local area. It allowed you to see what sort of character Alex really was. The residents of Sioux Crossing are a weird bunch of individuals. From the editor of the local paper to the police chief, there is a feeling of mystique around the place. Strange events add to the feeling that all is not what it seems. This is the first book by Dave Hutchinson I’ve read and I was impressed by his writing style. His use of vocabulary keeps you reading and he lays traps in the plot that you want to solve. About two thirds of the way through the plot takes off with a bang, literally. Then you’re plunged into a must faster pace, explosive even. The end niggles me slightly that it appears to be over so soon. I guess it allows a sequel, but in a way it leaves you cheated. In spite of these flaws I really enjoyed the book. The story is interesting, even in the getting to know you stage. All in all, I can recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good classic science fiction read. Very suitable as well to anyone over the age of eleven, indeed the cover is very Young Adult in style.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This book is mostly brilliant, and is very much a book of two parts. For the majority of the book, we have a slow burning but very brilliantly described path from an out-of-work writer to him being employed by a hugely rich person to write about a new supercollider. This part is excellent, as it builds up the background without us noticing unduly, and Alex meets various people working in or near his new town. Some of this is fascinating, and some is creepy, as you notice how a billionaire c This book is mostly brilliant, and is very much a book of two parts. For the majority of the book, we have a slow burning but very brilliantly described path from an out-of-work writer to him being employed by a hugely rich person to write about a new supercollider. This part is excellent, as it builds up the background without us noticing unduly, and Alex meets various people working in or near his new town. Some of this is fascinating, and some is creepy, as you notice how a billionaire can manipulate places and people to suit him. It is all rather plausible. The second part of this book, much smaller than the first part, is where things change dramatically. It becomes very science-fiction written, rather different to the first, and even as someone who loves scifi I found it a little surprising. However, it did all rather make sense, and I did enjoy reading about it as some things became clear. Unfortunately, I felt that there were many issues still unresolved when I suddenly found myself at the end, and would rather have read a slightly longer book and had some of those explained. I am not someone who always needs all loose ends tied up, but I did feel a bit short-changed as I was expecting an explanation for some things that had happened. It was tempting to take away a star for this, as I cannot use half-stars! But I have not, as I did thoroughly enjoy the story, and just wished there had been a bit more.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angeline

    4.2 stars. A relatively realistic take on superpowers, this novel was a joy to read up to the end, where a somewhat abrupt ending marred the story structure. Our hero, a down-on-his-luck journalist, is invited to create promotional materials for an exclusive scientific and political project. But things, of course, are not quite right with the idyllic little town. A scientific accident might just turn a humble journalist into something monstrous and godlike… The author creat 4.2 stars. A relatively realistic take on superpowers, this novel was a joy to read up to the end, where a somewhat abrupt ending marred the story structure. Our hero, a down-on-his-luck journalist, is invited to create promotional materials for an exclusive scientific and political project. But things, of course, are not quite right with the idyllic little town. A scientific accident might just turn a humble journalist into something monstrous and godlike… The author creates a lovable protagonist, with very real and believable reactions to incidents beyond comprehension. The book also gives us (what I consider to be) a more-realistic-than-average depiction of possible effects of dramatic scientific mistakes. Other larger-than-life characters populate the book, and international politics adds an additional layer of realism (and fun). Moments of crackling wit also contribute to the unique atmosphere. I do wish that the Exploding Man himself had shown up before the end of the book, though. Because everything led up to the confrontation with the Exploding Man, which was never really shown, the story seems to have been cut off at the climactic moment. Content warnings: moderately severe coarse language, including multiple instances of the f-word; some violence and gore. I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Realms & Robots

    I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it’s a great character piece, examining the workings of a down-on-his-luck journalist as he tries to write a book about an impossible project in the middle of nowhere. He forms a couple of interesting relationships and gains a few months of every day experiences. Hutchinson adds a lot of humor to the book and creates a compelling protagonist. That being said, it felt like there was something big missing from the story. The book promise I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it’s a great character piece, examining the workings of a down-on-his-luck journalist as he tries to write a book about an impossible project in the middle of nowhere. He forms a couple of interesting relationships and gains a few months of every day experiences. Hutchinson adds a lot of humor to the book and creates a compelling protagonist. That being said, it felt like there was something big missing from the story. The book promises explosive events and extreme science fiction and it mostly reads as a character piece that happens to take place around a science facility. While the final 25% of the book is definitely full science fiction, I found myself confused by the events and the sudden jumps in time. There didn’t seem to be a major conflict or a solution to any major issue. I expected to see this alternate realm in depth or to see some kind of final ending to the big villain, but instead it just kind of ended. I enjoyed reading the book but the journey was drawn out and there wasn’t any kind of definitive ending to be satisfied with. NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daisy Dooley

    First off I should say that sci-fi has never been my preferred genre to read. Having said that I found this book thoroughly enjoyable. It was witty, and engaging and whilst I can't pretend to understand all the sciency parts, it was intriguing. Alex Dolan is in a state of lethargy. Jobless, penniless and aimless. One day a letter arrives offering him a job interview. He also finds that all his bills have been paid off in full. He flies to San Francisco to meet Stan Clayton, the fifth richest man First off I should say that sci-fi has never been my preferred genre to read. Having said that I found this book thoroughly enjoyable. It was witty, and engaging and whilst I can't pretend to understand all the sciency parts, it was intriguing. Alex Dolan is in a state of lethargy. Jobless, penniless and aimless. One day a letter arrives offering him a job interview. He also finds that all his bills have been paid off in full. He flies to San Francisco to meet Stan Clayton, the fifth richest man in the world. Stan has bought a whole county in the U.S. and is attempting a science experiment never attempted before. Alex's only job is to write a book about the experiment. However, the offer seems to good to be true, and things take a strange turn with mysterious figures appearing, blue sparks in the air and being coerced into becoming a spy for the British Consulate. Ultimately as the experiment counts down, a blast leaves everyone suspended between dimensions apart from Alex who acquires superpower status, and his nemesis Larry Day who is the incredible exploding man. I was somewhat perturbed by the ending, which some will love and some will hate, but potentially there may be more to come for Alex Dolan. Original and interesting, fans of sci-fi will I'm sure love this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Dave Hutchinson's Fractured Europe books are one of the highlights of SF in the last decade, and so I had high hopes for this. It's told with his usual sardonic wit, and easy to read, but never facile, prose. Line by line, and chapter by chapter it's a great read, but somehow I found it a little unsatisfying. There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with the structure - difficult to elucidate without spoilers, but we spend 75% of the book getting to a thing which it's clear is going to ha Dave Hutchinson's Fractured Europe books are one of the highlights of SF in the last decade, and so I had high hopes for this. It's told with his usual sardonic wit, and easy to read, but never facile, prose. Line by line, and chapter by chapter it's a great read, but somehow I found it a little unsatisfying. There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with the structure - difficult to elucidate without spoilers, but we spend 75% of the book getting to a thing which it's clear is going to happen from very early on, and then the last section feels rushed, with no real resolution. It's quite possible this is the start of a series, in which case I'd be inclined a bit more generous to this issue, but even so, it's not a long book and a bit more fleshing out of the ending wouldn't have hurt. It's also possible, perhaps likely, that Hutchinson isn't interested in the mechanics of his plot so much as he is in examining what happens to a middle aged bloke who's stuck in a rut when he suddenly receives [SPOILER], and how that changes his life and relationship with humanity. That's fertile ground, but again there's not really time to get stuck into it. All in all, a solid enjoyable read, but also a frustrating one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicki Markus

    The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is a difficult book to classify and to review. The cover and blurb strongly indicate a superhero-type story, which is what attracted me to the work. However, the first 75% of the book is essentially a slow, tedious drama/mystery story. Then, without warning, the story does a complete flip and turns into something else entirely, dropping a number of characters and unresolved plot points and introducing others. The ending then also feels unresolved in the The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is a difficult book to classify and to review. The cover and blurb strongly indicate a superhero-type story, which is what attracted me to the work. However, the first 75% of the book is essentially a slow, tedious drama/mystery story. Then, without warning, the story does a complete flip and turns into something else entirely, dropping a number of characters and unresolved plot points and introducing others. The ending then also feels unresolved in the way it is left. There were bits towards the end of the book that I enjoyed, but I would have liked to have seen those introduced much earlier, because the snail-pace of the first 75% had already lost most of my interest and attention by that point. There is a spark of something in the premise, and I think it would have had potential if not for the pacing issues and the general disjointedness. I'm giving this 2.5 stars that I will round up to a three. There were some interesting moments, but overall the book's structure was too flawed for me to truly enjoy the tale. I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Cliffe

    As an avid Sci-Fi reader for many (many) years, I'm ashamed to say that while Dave Hutchinson is - according to his publisher - "the multi-award winning author of the critically acclaimed Fractured Europe series", and -more than that- he's also a fellow Brit, this book is my first introduction to his writing. It is totally a-maze-ing. I already ordered the first of his back catalogue to get better acquainted. There's a struggling journo, hired in fairly surreal circumstances to write As an avid Sci-Fi reader for many (many) years, I'm ashamed to say that while Dave Hutchinson is - according to his publisher - "the multi-award winning author of the critically acclaimed Fractured Europe series", and -more than that- he's also a fellow Brit, this book is my first introduction to his writing. It is totally a-maze-ing. I already ordered the first of his back catalogue to get better acquainted. There's a struggling journo, hired in fairly surreal circumstances to write about a project which seems like an attempt to build a bigger and better LHC. There's a movie-set small american town with a cast of quirky local residents, some weird history and an engaging plot that leaves you guessing until the last minute as to where the exploding man comes in. Or goes out (insider joke!). The storytelling and plotting is flawless, the characters solid, and the payoff satisfying. It's a perfect feast of a book that keeps you hooked until the last page. And now I'm hoping for a sequel!

  28. 5 out of 5

    BookFi

    I really enjoyed The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. The story over the first few sections really kept me interested and wanting to know what was going on. The story definitely didn’t end as I expected it to, though, and more could have been made of what was suggested in the stories past as to how and what the “Angel” or “static” was in relation to what was happening in the present - a missed opportunity, maybe? The ending was certainly strange, and maybe a bit lost when referring to the I really enjoyed The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. The story over the first few sections really kept me interested and wanting to know what was going on. The story definitely didn’t end as I expected it to, though, and more could have been made of what was suggested in the stories past as to how and what the “Angel” or “static” was in relation to what was happening in the present - a missed opportunity, maybe? The ending was certainly strange, and maybe a bit lost when referring to the lives of some of the armed forces characters. A comic book, super-hero.... more X-Men esque character idea, with some funny lines, a county reformed for the purposes of a supercollider experiment, a journalist whom has no choice but to work on a book associated with the goings on at the SCS, a grumpy townsfolk, a mystery blue light and some strange super powers. A bit more could have be done to polish and refine the story overall, but worth a read if you want something quite light, a bit investigative mysterious, and to see how super powers were formed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave C

    Once again the author hits it out of the ballpark. The writing is top-notch, the characters unforgettable and the story unique. I really enjoy his writing and I look forward to his next adventure. A Scottish journalist, barely surviving as a free lancer in Boston, is “rescued” by a billionaire with a simple request - write a story about his supercollider project in the middle of Iowa. This little farm town has been spruced up by money and hordes of young smart scientists; but somethin Once again the author hits it out of the ballpark. The writing is top-notch, the characters unforgettable and the story unique. I really enjoy his writing and I look forward to his next adventure. A Scottish journalist, barely surviving as a free lancer in Boston, is “rescued” by a billionaire with a simple request - write a story about his supercollider project in the middle of Iowa. This little farm town has been spruced up by money and hordes of young smart scientists; but something is a bit off. There is also a connection to a suspect Scottish Secret Service agent out of the Minnesota consulate which throws a few twists into the story as well as recurring visits by members of the US government. Then they start up the supercollider and a little part of the world changes a whole lot. Our journalist becomes a superhero, sort of, and his journeys into another dimension keep things interesting until the end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    NellieTests

    Reviewed by a YA fan of sci-fi and mystery genres: "Overall, I did enjoy this book ( The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man) but there are some areas which are lacking or others where there is too much padding. For example, there was, in my opinion, too much build-up to the main event in this book. I understand that some things needed explaining but there was just too much of it. Another point is that the actual event happened very very quickly and after that, the story was very " Reviewed by a YA fan of sci-fi and mystery genres: "Overall, I did enjoy this book ( The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man) but there are some areas which are lacking or others where there is too much padding. For example, there was, in my opinion, too much build-up to the main event in this book. I understand that some things needed explaining but there was just too much of it. Another point is that the actual event happened very very quickly and after that, the story was very "jumpy" in the sense that time seemed irrelevant, barring the cases of a few mortalities. Lastly, the ending was very abrupt and slightly disappointing with no obvious place to pick up from if there were to be a second book, as I would feel the book would be incomplete without."

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