STARRED REVIEW
September 2018

A haunting speculative thriller

By Iain Reid

Iain Reid’s philosophical sci-fi novel Foe tells the story of Junior and Henrietta, a married couple living on a farm in an undisclosed location sometime in the near future. They live a relatively isolated and quiet life that is structured around monotonous routine. Their domestic doldrums are upended by the arrival of Terrance, a mysterious figure who claims to work for a scientific outfit called OuterMore. He has come to tell the couple that Junior has been tapped to potentially participate in the Installation, a human settlement in outer space. Informed by Terrance that Junior’s involvement won’t be finalized for another few years, the couple returns to their normal existence.

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Iain Reid’s philosophical sci-fi novel Foe tells the story of Junior and Henrietta, a married couple living on a farm in an undisclosed location sometime in the near future. They live a relatively isolated and quiet life that is structured around monotonous routine. Their domestic doldrums are upended by the arrival of Terrance, a mysterious figure who claims to work for a scientific outfit called OuterMore. He has come to tell the couple that Junior has been tapped to potentially participate in the Installation, a human settlement in outer space. Informed by Terrance that Junior’s involvement won’t be finalized for another few years, the couple returns to their normal existence.

Two years later, Terrance returns with news that Junior has indeed been selected to participate in the Installation program. The mission will require him to live very far away from the farm for several years. Stunned and confused, Junior is concerned about leaving Henrietta alone on their remote homestead. But Henrietta will not be alone, as OuterMore plans to replace Junior with a duplicate version of himself.

Furthermore, Terrance moves into the household to conduct interviews and collect observational data for the replacement. This new and bizarre domestic situation, as well as Henrietta’s mysteriously apathetic response to it all, perplexes Junior. The reader then follows Junior on an unsettling yet thrilling search for answers that ultimately culminates in a shocking final twist.

Foe is a philosophically bewildering and psychologically triggering novel. Reid’s depiction of Junior’s and Henrietta’s existential crises forces the reader to engage with questions of romantic relationships, identity, technology and the nature of humanity. Such an ambitious work risks being muddied. Reid, however, brilliantly executes his vision through short chapters filled with well-crafted internal and external dialogue.

With Foe, Reid has written a page-turning novel that will entertain you and have you questioning the very foundation of your existence at the exact same time.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Foe

Foe

By Iain Reid
Scout
ISBN 9781501127427

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