Like his previous books Stamping Butterflies and 9Tail Fox, Jon Courtenay Grimwood's End of the World Blues is another novel that blends the latest physics theories with the feeling of dislocation from modern-day life. In the near future, Kit Nouveau is successfully hiding from the fact that after 15 years in Tokyo, his life isn't great. He's addicted to drugs, his bar is a hangout for bikers and dealers, and he and his wife are simply going through the motions. His wife, Yoshi, is a potter famous enough to be referred to as an important intangible cultural property, but Kit knows barely anything about her. He is haunted by his time as a sniper in Iraq, the death of his best friend in England, and the girl the two boys both loved. In a turning point that is key to the novel, Kit eventually realizes that although he can't right these wrongs, he might be able to help other people. One of the people he has been helping is Lady Neku, a 15-year-old homeless girl. On cold mornings he brings her coffee and sometimes gives her money. Lady Neku is, of course, more than she appears. She's at once the last surviving member of a yakuza family and/or the last surviving member of a Moorcockian far-future aristocratic family. Grimwood's descriptions of modern Japan are as much fun as his imaginative end-of-the-universe world and as terrifying as his offhanded depiction of England as a police state.
Gavin J. Grant is the co-editor of the anthology The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.