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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  209 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning.

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

Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland,
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published June 28th 2018 by Gollancz
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Pep @Hannu is on Twitter, and keeps his followers informed and up to date, so I would suggest you keep an eye out there. Maybe you missed his appearance…more@Hannu is on Twitter, and keeps his followers informed and up to date, so I would suggest you keep an eye out there. Maybe you missed his appearance at @Interval at Long Now (in SF, where he is now based) but a video is available at their website: - if you are prepared to pay $100 a year for the privilege!(less)

Community Reviews

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

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

Ana and Kata: “Summerland” by Hannu Rajaniemi

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

So what was my initial reaction when I heard he was writing about 1938 pre-war spy fiction where the afterlife is not only accessible but is actively involved in politics in that alternate wo
Cathy (cathepsut)
„You are a cruel woman, Mrs. Moore,“ he said between sips.
Reminiscent of Marvel‘s Agent Carter, Mrs. Moore is a secret agent... but that is just the beginning. Set in 1938, we get espionage and counter espionage, glimpses of the Spanish Civil War, the Old Boy‘s Clubs ruling Great Britain, one disenchanted female agent, communism, an alternate reality or rather, a netherworld of ghosts and mediums. Because in this world you go places, when you die. If you have something important to do and own a
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was my first novel by this author, who came highly recommended.

The premise of there being an afterlife, making death no big deal, as well as all the political repercussions (Queen Victoria is still ruling Britain, although from Summerland which basically is "the other side") sounded intriguing. The people here not only have a way of talking to the dead on a special phone, the dead can also rent a medium's body to walk among the living. We also have a spy story full of agents, moles, double-
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at

The afterlife hardly seems like a suitable subject for science fiction, but authors as far back as Edgar Allan Poe – whose pseudoscientific proto-mockumentary “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” hoodwinked newspaper readers in 1845 – have sought to portray the pre-scientific notion of consciousness after death in post-scientific terms. Some of the more famous examples since then come from Philip José Farmer (Riverworld series) and P
Ed McDonald
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of Summerland because I got to read the first pages at Worldcon, got hooked and then bugged the publisher until they gave me a copy. No spoilers.

I've always felt that there are concept books, and then there are plot-based books. The concept books take an idea and explore it thoroughly, and you umm and ahhh at the marvellous imagination of the writer. Plot books send you somewhere that's familiar enough that the strange world the author has created does
Quintin Zimmermann
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Summerland is a peculiar novel with the unique premise of mashing together the disparate concepts of the afterlife with Cold War spy tradecraft .

Almost the entire book takes place in an alternate 1938, where the dead are able to relocate to a fourth dimensional afterlife via a meritocratic system of Tickets that are offered to the deserving. The dead can further interact with and manifest themselves in a very real way in the world of the living via ectophones and mediums. Imagine being able to p
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

There’s always something intimately satisfying in picking up a book that jolts your mind with refreshing ideas that only seemed inconceivable at first. Author of the critically-acclaimed Jean le Flambeur trilogy Hannu Rajaniemi returns for a stand-alone espionage story infused with a whole dose of science fiction in Summerland. Pulsating with passion and creativity, this story is the very archetype of what novelty is all about. Far from being a
Alex Sarll
Rajaniemi's Jean le Flambeur trilogy was a marvel; tricksy, baroque post-singularity space opera, and as such exactly the sort of thing I was always likely to love. His first novel outside that...isn't. It's set in an alternate 1938 where, four decades earlier, scientists made irrefutable contact with the afterlife. So the Great War was won with ectotanks and flyers, people channelling the energy of the dead - and now, the battle between the Republicans and Franco looks set to draw the great pow ...more
Rachel (Kalanadi)
3.5 stars -- full video review:
Leah Rachel
In Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi, World War II never happened, because Great Britain discovered Summerland. Britain colonizes the “afterlife” and treat going there as a meritocracy reward—you need “tickets” in order to go there properly somehow, or you’ll fade. I am a big fan of twisty, turny narratives—of complicated science fiction and fantasy that demands much from the reader to keep up. Unfortunately, I found Summerland rather disappointing in that even by the end of the novel, I was struggl ...more
I normally don't write reviews here for items that I am supposed to review for LJ, but I do want to add that the synopsis that GoodReads has listed is incorrect. This is not about "the bastard daughter of Harry Houdini" or a "map of the Other Side". That does sound very intriguing, but those items are not anywhere in this particular book.

Review to follow in the Library Journal.
Richard G
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hannu Rajaniemi has done it again. Summerland is a superbly crafted, immersive and thought-provoking novel. Instead of a deep space caper, Summerland is a pre-Cold War Era espionage mystery set in 1938 England where the East-West theatre is on the brink of the Spanish Civil War. Bureaucratic rivalry between the living and the dead in the British Intelligence intersect with private indiscretions of the elite, since in this alternative world, death is not the end but entre to a better place. In Su ...more
Complex but more accessible than his previous work, Rajaniemi’s latest is a feast of spycraft, afterlives, Gods, moral quandaries and politics set in a magnificently original alternate history world.

Set in an alternate 1938, the Spanish Civil War is heating up and Britain has discovered a way to communicate with and preserve consciousness in the afterlife, called Summerland. The empire has colonised an abandoned alien city within Summerland, creating a haven for their recently deceased citizens
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
(Some points in this review could be considered plot spoilers, though they emerge early enough in the book that I don't think of them as such, but more part of the premise.)

I sampled this author's Quantum Thief, but bounced off it because it was both very high-concept and in a setting with a lot of new things in it that aren't immediately explained. This one is high-concept, but the setting is more understandable: the world of British espionage in an alternate 1930s, in which Lodge and Marconi h
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"You were not paranoid if any room could contain an invisible ghost, looking at your thoughts or listening to your words via a hidden ectaphone'

And that quote effectively summarizes why the premise of this book is so interesting. This story is pre WW2 spy thriller with the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. Spy thrillers are not really my thing, but the lovely tension of a human woman agent trying to catch a turned ghost operative along with Hannu Rajaniemi's excellent ability to sketch out full
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the disaster that is Brexit looming over the UK, some popular culture has been harkening back to those rose-tinted good old days when we all pulled together like in, er, World War II… Er, WTF? How exactly does WWII map onto Brexit? Anyway, the fact Brexit is bending UK culture, as well as the economy, out of shape is a given, but it seems to have manifested a bit oddly in genre fiction, Yes, I know Rajaniemi is Finnish, but he’s been a resident of the UK for a number of years, and his caree ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hannu arrived to the science fiction genre with quite a bang in 2010.  His novel, The Quantum Thief, was clever, bombastic and energetic, and was widely acclaimed as an inventive debut from an exciting new author.

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

My prejudices should be known from the start - I love stories set around World War Two, both in the interwar years leading up to it and the Cold War afterwards. Genre books are a rich source of int
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a spy/double agent book sent in an alternate history Earth, where sometime in the 1900s people found a way to connect to the after life (Summerland), and have since developed technology to allow the living and the dead to communicate and interact.

I really liked this premise. I love it when a book is set in this kind of alternate timeline, and other books that did it well are the Laws of Magic series by Michael Pryor and The Year of the Knife by G.D. Penman. The whole aspect of being abl
Joel Mitchell
The overall plot of this book follows a mole hunt on the order of LeCarré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. However, in this alternate 1938 death is merely a transition into a different dimension (or something) that still interacts with the world of the living. “The Great Game” continues on both sides of death as the British and Russian Empires vie for supremacy with the Spanish Civil War as their chessboard.

I won’t go into much detail about how Summerland (where dead Brits go) and the Presence (t
O.S. Prime
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this one because I enjoyed the Quantum Thief books. While reading (listening, actually) I stayed mildly curious about what would happen next. That's the height of my fervor for this novel. I don't feel it succeeds as science fiction, nor as a ghost story, nor as historical fiction, nor as a spy novel. The two first-person characters, Rachel and Bloom, are both well drawn, but I was not strongly compelled by either of their stories. If this book is intended to serve as an introduction to a ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Summerland is an impressive novel blending spy-fi and science fiction.  If you only pick one science fiction novel to read this summer, this is it.  Summerland is set in an alternate Britain circa 1938. The Cold War is in full swing, but there are two fronts - the world of the living and the world of the dead.  The world of the novel was changed forever when the Summerland was discovered. Once thought to be gone forever, the souls of the dead persevere and retain their intelligence.  Technology ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Summerland is an alternate history spy story. “ the audiobook version was ok, but I wonder if the text book had an explanation of terms and locations. The first few chapters were chaos. Eventually I got the general picture and the spy games. The invented world and philosophy are interesting, and the alternative outcomes for death are in away creating a new class system. Also means your secrets don’t necessarily die when you go to the next phase. The book begs to be a film, to be able to visuali ...more
Jessica Strider
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pros: fleshed-out characters, interesting world, fast paced

Cons: pay close attention or you’ll get lost quickly, some aspects not explained well

Pay very close attention to the first few chapters of the book as you’re dumped into the action with no background information beyond what you can gleam from conversations. Once you’ve got a feel for the players, the world, and the stakes, sit back and enjoy the fast paced ride.

The story is told through mostly alternating chapters from the points of vie
Ampersand Inc.
This book has such an intriguing concept (British and Russian spies in the afterlife) with an interesting and flawed heroine, but it feels a bit like work to read. I’ve been struggling to pick it back up after I put it down.
David Harris
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of Summerland.

'The windmill you are tilting at is very high and ancient and English: Privilege...'

Well. (or should I say, Wells...?)

This is a strange one. It's a mashup of classic espionage (1930s, British Empire vs Soviet Union, a molehunt and traitors among the gilded products of elite English education) with horror (through some higher dimensional maths, the afterlife has been discovered so Spooks can literally be... spooks), overtones of stea
Tracy Rowan
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I flailed about for a while trying to decide what it was I was reading as I read Summerland, but in the end, I realized I was reading a thriller in science fiction garb.  That's not to downplay the SF element, it's essential to the plot, and it's unusual in that it treats the afterlife, or at least what is known of the afterlife in this society, as something that's just slightly to the left of real life.  The dead can still communicate with the living, they go about their lives pretty much as th ...more
Leon Markham
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful! As others have commented - very different from his previous novels - more accessible certainly, and a different kind of exploration. The central conceit of this book is that souls do go somewhere when you die, and the British Empire has mastered the technology. It's essentially a spy novel set in this world - pacey and well written and hugely enjoyable. I love science fiction which expands the mind and causes one to think differently about the world - this certainly is that, but writt ...more
This is one of those books that I just don't have nearly enough Goodreads shelves for. In addition to the ones I've chosen, it also delves into politics, war, philosophy, gender inequality, spies, PTSD, grief, duty...I could go on. There's a lot happening in this thing, though it feels very quiet and thoughtful and smart (it's Hannu Rajaniemi, duh).

This story is, on the surface, a lot less weird than the Jean le Flambeur series, mostly dealing with 1930's-era spies on opposites sides during the
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong book blurb 6 29 Jun 28, 2018 12:35PM  
Release date incorrect? 1 28 Jul 26, 2017 09:01AM  
EN: Hannu Rajaniemi is a Finnish author of science fiction and fantasy, who writes in both English and Finnish. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is a founding director of a technology consultancy company, ThinkTank Maths.

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

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