A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Gnomon is an extraordinary novel, and one I can't stop thinking about some weeks after I read it. It is deeply troubling, magnificently strange, and an exhilarating read.' Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven 'Nick Harkaway's most ambitious novel yet. [A] story of near-future mass surveillance, artificial intelligence and human identity ... An amazing and quite unforgettable piece of fiction.' Guardian 'Harkaway dazzles.' Daily Mail 'Wonderfully good.' Sunday Times Near-future Britain is a state in which citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of 'transparency.' Every action is seen, every word is recorded and the System has access to thoughts and memories.
When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn't Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter's psyche.
Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding. The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.
Lester Ferris, sergeant of the British Army, is a good man in need of a rest. He's spent a lot of his life being shot at, and Afghanistan was the last stop on his road to exhaustion. He has no family, he's nearly forty and burned out and about to be retired.
The island of Mancreu is the ideal place for Lester to serve out his time. It's a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution - a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater. Of course, that also makes Mancreu perfect for shady business, hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: listening stations, offshore hospitals, money laundering operations, drug factories and deniable torture centres. None of which should be a problem, because Lester's brief is to sit tight and turn a blind eye.
But Lester Ferris has made a friend: a brilliant, Internet-addled street kid with a comicbook fixation who will need a home when the island dies - who might, Lester hopes, become an adopted son. Now, as Mancreu's small society tumbles into violence, the boy needs Lester to be more than just an observer.
In the name of paternal love, Lester Ferris will do almost anything. And he's a soldier with a knack for bad places: "almost anything" could be a very great deal - even becoming some sort of hero. But this is Mancreu, and everything here is upside down. Just exactly what sort of hero will the boy need?