Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated writer Adam Roberts (The Thing Itself) and François Schuiten, recipient of the Angoulême International Comics Festival’s prestigious lifetime achievement award, present The Compelled, part one of a two-part sci-fi novella series and the first book-length science fiction publication that Schuiten has illustrated.

A mysterious change has occurred in humanity. Nobody knows how, why or exactly when this change came about, but disparate, seemingly unconnected people have become afflicted with the uncontrollable desire to take objects and move them to other places, where the objects gather and begin to form increasingly alien, monolithic structures that appear to have vast technological implications. Some of the objects are innocuous everyday things—like a butter knife taken still greasy from a breakfast table or a dented cap popped off a bottle of beer. Others are far more complex—like the turbine of an experimental jet engine or the core of a mysterious weapon left over from the darkest days of WWII.

Where is the Compulsion coming from? And—possibly more importantly—when the machines they’re building finally turn on, what are they going to do?


Variant cover by WBYK


Adam Roberts is often described as one of the UK's most important writers of science fiction. He has been nominated three times for the Arthur C. Clarke Award: in 2001 for his debut novel Salt, in 2007 for Gradisil, and in 2010 for Yellow Blue Tibia. He has won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, as well as the 2012 BSFA Award for Best Novel. Roberts reviews science fiction for The Guardian and is a contributor to the SF ENCYCLOPEDIA. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His science fiction has been praised by many critics both inside and outside the genre, with some comparing him to genre authors such as Pel Torro, John E. Muller, and Karl Zeigfreid.

François Schuiten is a Belgian comic artist who was born into a family of architects. Since 1980, he has worked with Benoît Peeters on The Obscure Cities series. His graphic novels have been translated into a dozen languages and have received numerous international awards. He has also created many illustrations, posters and postage stamps across Europe. In 2002, he received the prestigious lifetime achievement award from the Angouleme festival. He published his first solo effort, The Beauty, in 2012, and designed a train museum, Train World, which opened in Brussels in 2015. His 2014 exhibition and accompanying book, Revoir Paris, met with international praise. In 2019 his adaptation of the long-running French comic Blake and Mortimer was a runaway French comics industry bestseller, selling over 300,000 copies.

The Compelled is a gorgeous-looking e-book written by Adam Roberts with wonderfully atmospheric illustrations by François Schuiten that have an almost retro-Victorian look to them. … The fabulous illustrations of various partly constructed edifices are matched by the wonderfully colourful language in Adam Roberts’ trademark style. He plays with homonyms and synonyms, pronunciation and the misheard words of conversations to add a flowing, rhythmic pace to the plot. The book has a steady and progressive pace that builds up momentum and tension… I’m fascinated to see what happens next.

SF CROWSNEST