Introducing When the Sparrow Falls, the Debut Novel From Neil Sharpson

Will Hinton, executive editor at Tor Books, has acquired North American rights to two books by debut novelist Neil Sharpson, from his agent Jennie Goloboy at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. The first book, When the Sparrow Falls, is scheduled for publication in spring 2021.

Part thriller, part literary science fiction, When the Sparrow Falls is an exploration of the coming AI revolution, transhumanism, totalitarianism, loss, and the problem of evil.

In the future, AI are everywhere. They are our employers, our employees, our friends, lovers and even our children. Over half the human race now lives online.

But in the Caspian Republic, the last true human beings have made their stand, and their repressive, one-party state is locked in perpetual cold war with the outside world.

The republic is thrown into chaos when the virulently anti-AI journalist Paulo Xirau is found dead in a bar. At his autopsy, the unthinkable is discovered: Xirau was AI.

Security Agent Nikolai South is given a seemingly mundane task; escorting Xirau’s widow while she visits the Caspian Republic to identify her husband’s remains. He is stunned to discover that the beautiful, reserved, Lily Xirau bears an unearthly resemblance to his wife, who has been dead for thirty years.

As Nikolai and Lily delve deeper into the circumstances surrounding Paulo’s death, trying desperately to avoid the attentions of the murderous Bureau of Party Security, a tentative friendship between the two begins to blossom. But when they discover Xirau’s last secret South must choose between his loyalty to his country and his conscience.

Neil Sharpson said:

I’ve been living in the Caspian Republic (whether as a play, screenplay or novel) for around nine years now and it’s almost impossible to believe that the journey is finally at an end. It’s a story about one man trying to survive in a brutal regime who is given one final chance to make amends to the woman he let down. I’m incredibly grateful to Will Hinton and the team at Tor for choosing this book, and to Jennie Goloboy, the best agent any writer could ask for. And most of all to my wife Aoife, who never doubted for a second, even when I did. And while it’s certainly not a place I’d recommend moving to, I sincerely hope people enjoy their time in the Caspian Republic.

Will Hinton added:

“It is a rare and joyous occasion to discover a debut novel brimming with this much talent, insight, poise and heart. The voice of Nikolai South is indelible and the world he brings us into is unforgettable, part Le Carré, part Philip K. Dick, and many layers besides. Sharpson asks questions, and gives a few answers, about what is gained and what is lost in the way we live in the 21st century that will keep me thinking for a long time. I can’t wait for you to read it!”

When the Sparrow Falls is scheduled for publication in spring 2021 by Tor in the US and by Rebellion in the UK.

Neil Sharpson lives in Dublin with his wife and their two children. Having written for theatre since his teens, Neil transitioned to writing novels in 2017, adapting his own play The Caspian Sea into When the Sparrow Falls.


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