The Liminal War

Ayize Jama-Everett  - published June 2015

paper · $16 · 9781618731012 | ebook · 9781618731029 · Edelweiss

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A Liminal People novel. Taggert wants to look after his family so when his adopted daughter disappears he only has one option: find her.

There is something wrong in this world and Taggert must do what he must.

“I read bodies the way master musicians read music.”

The Liminal War is a propulsive novel that starts with a kidnapping in London and takes off running. Taggert is a man with a questionable past and the ability to hurt or heal with his thoughts alone. When his adopted daughter goes missing, he immediately suspects the hand of an old enemy. In order to find her, Taggert assembles a team of friends, family, and new allies who don’t quite trust he has left his violent times behind. But their search leads them to an unexpected place: the past.

Getting there is hard, being there is harder, and their journey has a price that is higher than any of us can afford.

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Reviews

The Liminal War bounces between scenes of high-octane, superpowered battles, and surprisingly low-key interludes. The entire middle of the novel follows Taggert, Tamara, and Mico, the high priest of the mannah, as they travel back in time to 1971 so that Mico can jam with a young Bob Marley. Music, in fact, has tremendous power in this story, and the final confrontation with Nardeen is powered by the music of Robert Johnson, whom the group meet in 1938 in the book’s final third…. Books like The Liminal War and The Entropy of Bones won’t make up for the fact that the dominant genre of our pop culture is so completely wedded to the past and the status quo, but they point the way to how that might—if we embrace change and creativity—someday change.”
Strange Horizons

“In Ayize Jama-Everett’s The Liminal War, the family one chooses is just as important as the one a person is born into. Taggert is a “Liminal,” a being who can manipulate human molecules and DNA, allowing him to both harm and heal. When his adopted daughter is kidnapped by his psychotic former mentor, Taggert will rent the fabric of time and space to make sure his daughter is found before his former master can twist her mind. While there are forces stronger than Liminals bent on stopping Taggert and his friends — a pot-smoking god and a musician who takes him back to 1970s London — they may be outmatched by Taggert’s biological daughter, Tamara, who will risk her own life to save her sister’s.”
— Nancy Hightower, Washington Post

“Like Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia Butler before him, Jama-Everett has a knack for braiding issues of spirituality and race throughout a compelling fantasy landscape.”
Leilani Clark, KQED

“Where Liminal People is a quick thrill ride that rarely lets up, The Liminal War is a slower, more contemplative book. Jama-Everett introduces concepts and characters that take a bit more processing to get used to and understand. He takes a world that was, if not exactly our world, a close approximation and adds in some elements that might be considered a bit more fantastical and less science fictional. This includes a plant based sentient life-form billions of years old, beings comprised of entropy, and a human representative of the four winds. And surprisingly, within the context of The Liminal Wars, it all makes sense.”
SF Revu

“It’s been a long wait since Jama-Everett’s 2009 debut, The Liminal People, but the same raw wattage that lit up healer/killer Taggert’s epic introduction to his daughter, Tamara, and his split with his sociopathic mentor, Nordeen, is at work in this rich, dense sequel. This episode opens with a characteristic blast of pure psychic chaos from Tamara, who’s discovered that Prentis, a child Taggert calls “mine by choice,” has disappeared from the sensory realm commanded by superpowered liminals like Taggert’s family. Taggert’s sure that Prentis isn’t dead, but beyond that he’s stumped. His lover, Samantha, guides him to the Rasta-tinged commune of London’s Eel Pie Island, where he encounters the avatar of a four-billion-year-old vegetable god who allies with him in the search. And that’s just the first 30 pages. Jama-Everett writes with such cyclonic energy and verbal legerdemain that occasionally the plot has to be taken on faith, but the noir-infused verve of the telling makes it all work.
Publishers Weekly

“. . . a scrappy group of people with superpowers who careen through a criminal underground, the space-time continuum, and frequently outrageous battles to rescue a young woman who’s gone missing. Taggert, a former criminal, can “read bodies” and manipulate them on a molecular level. He’s lying low in London, working a shadowy business of healing people with terminal diseases and keeping an eye on his teenage daughter, Tamara, and adopted daughter, Prentis. Both Tamara and Prentis are also “liminals”—people with supernatural abilities—and survivors of Taggert’s criminal past. When Prentis vanishes from the planet, invisible even to Tamara’s powerful telepathy, Taggert and Tamara set out to look for her. They find themselves thrown into alliances with legendary musicians and the worshipers of a strange god and pitted against viciously ruthless nonhuman entities called “alters.” The plot moves swiftly, cramming incident after incident into a novel that seems surprisingly slim for this breed of action-adventure. . . . An engaging sequel that sets its likable cast of characters against a fast-paced sequence of dangers.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Liminal War did something I thought was impossible. It was even better than its predecessor, which knocked my socks off when I read it last year. Science fiction and fantasy fans, run—don’t walk—to go read Ayize Jama-Everett’s Liminal series.”
A Bookish Type

The Liminal War is thus rich in action and meaning that is impressive for its short length. . . . an effective and remarkable novel . . .  I really look forward to the next entry in this series, the further growth of its characters and its textured layers of Black culture and history.”
Skiffy and Fanty

Reviews of The Liminal People:

“A great piece of genre fiction. But picking which genre to place it in isn’t easy. The first in a planned series, it’s got the twists and taut pacing of a thriller, the world-warping expansiveness of a fantasy yarn, and even the love-as-redemption arc of a romance. Oh yeah, a lot of the characters in it have superhuman powers, too.”—The Rumpus

“The action sequences are smartly orchestrated, but it is Taggert’s quest to retrieve his own soul that gives The Liminal People its oomph. Jama-Everett has done a stellar job of creating a setup that promises even greater rewards in future volumes.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“You’ll be sucked into a fast-paced story about superpowered people struggling for control of the underground cultures they inhabit…. The novel is a damn good read. It’s a smart actioner that will entertain you while also enticing you to think about matters beyond the physical realm.”
—Annalee Newitz, io9

“The story’s setup . . . takes next to no time to relate in Jama-Everett’s brisk prose. With flat-voiced, sharp-edged humor reminiscent of the razors his fellow thugs wear around their necks, Taggert claims to read bodies ‘the way pretentious East Coast Americans read The New Yorker … I’ve got skills,’ he adds. ‘What I don’t have is patience.’”
—Nisi Shawl, The Seattle Times

“A fun and fast-paced thriller. Recommended for: Mutants, misfits, anyone who’s ever felt partway between one thing and another.”
— The Ladies of Comicazi

About the Author

Born in 1974, Ayize Jama-Everett hails from the Harlem of old. In his time on the planet, he’s traveled extensively throughout the world — Malaysia, East and North Africa, Mexico, New Hampshire — before settling temporarily in Northern California. With Master’s degrees in psychology and divinity, he’s taught at the graduate and high school level and worked as a therapist. He is the author of three novels, The Liminal People, The Liminal War, and The Entropy of Bones, as well as an upcoming graphic novel with illustrator John Jennings entitled Box of Bones. When he’s no writing, teaching, or sermonising, he’s usually practicing his aim.

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