Justina Robson






KEEPING IT REAL: Quantum Gravity: Book1
Allen & Unwin, August 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

In 2015 a quantum explosion took place on earth and resulted in a tear in the space-time continuum. Earth is now joined (via quantum gateways) to five other realms. There is Otopia, the human world; Zoomenon, where the Elementals live; Alfheim, of the elves; Demonia, home of the demons; Thanatopia, the realm of the dead; and Faery, home of all things magical. Lila Black is a part woman, part machine, restored to this condition after she was fatally damaged during a diplomatic mission to Alfheim. She is now a special agent, and has been assigned to protect the lead singer, Zal, of a rock group. The group's manager is concerned for the singer’s safety after receiving a series of cryptic, sinister notes, and Lila goes undercover, assuming the guise of a bodyguard. The tension starts when she finds out the singer is an elf, a member of the race that caused her previous life to end, and she has to overcome her prejudices to do her job well. Lila gradually finds her assumptions about elves in general may be wide of the mark. Both Zal, and his would-be assassin, are not what they seem, and Lila is tested to her limits to survive the forthcoming showdown with the villains.

KEEPING IT REAL is not Robson’s first book, but it is the first in a new trilogy. It is an enjoyable, humorous and fast paced book. In fact at times there was almost too much happening at once. The plot was very clever, mixing the modern world with fantasy elements and making it all seem, well, normal. Although the character of Lila is very well developed, I got the impression she may be a ‘work in progress.’ There is definite growth as the story unfolds, but still room for more development. The machine part of Lila has a mind of its own, and she is still learning to control it. This results in some very funny, and also very sad, scenes as Lila struggles to make sense of what she has become. The relationships between the characters are very complex at times, and Lila, and the reader, needs to sort out just who is good and who is bad, and keep focused on what is real, and what is not.

Nov 2006 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem


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