The Violent Century

Lavie Tidhar

2016 Seiun Award nominated
2014/2015 Gaylactic Spectrum Shortlist 



“Like Watchmen on crack.”—io9.  At the dawn of global war, flashy American superheroes squared off against sinister Germans and dissolute Russians. Retired British agents Fogg and Oblivion have kept a treacherous secret for over forty years. But all heroes must choose when to join the fray.


The Violent Century

by Lavie Tidhar

ISBN: Print: 9781616963163; Digital: 9781616963170

Published: July 2019

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Digital Books


Introduction by Cory Doctorow

“A torrid tour de force.” —James Ellroy
“Like Watchmen on crack.”—io9
“If John le Carre wrote a superhero novel about the Cold War, it might be this good.” —Charles Stross

A bold experiment has mutated a small fraction of humanity. Nations race to harness the gifted, putting them to increasingly dark ends. At the dawn of global war, flashy American superheroes square off against sinister Germans and dissolute Russians. Increasingly depraved scientists conduct despicable research in the name of victory

British agents Fogg and Oblivion, recalled to the Retirement Bureau, have kept a treacherous secret for over forty years. But all heroes must choose when to join the fray, and to whom their allegiance is owed—even for just one perfect summer’s day.

From the World Fantasy and Campbell award-winning author of Central Station comes a sweeping novel of history, adventure, and what it means to be a hero.

Praise for The Violent Century

The Violent Century is a very sophisticated blend of fantasy and real life. Of flawed superheroes engaging with key events in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Lavie Tidhar is a veteran of seamlessly weaving an intriguing blend of fiction into world changing historical events.”
Strange Alliances

The Violent Century is admirably plotted and well paced, with an atmosphere of menace throughout, I’m puzzled as to why this wasn’t on any award shortlist for its year.”
—Jack Deighton, author of A Son of the Rock

The Violent Century is a wonderfully constructed, crafted work that bears a great emotional weight even as it raises more intellectual questions. It’s the kind of work that lingers in the mind long after the reading.”
Fantasy Literature

“A brilliant novel of ideas.”
B&N book blog

“A brilliantly etched phantasmagoric reconfiguring of that most sizzling of eras—the twilight 20th.”
—James Ellroy, author of L.A. Confidential and Blood’s a Rover

The Violent Century is a brilliant story of superheroes and spies and secret histories. It stands with Alan Moore’s Watchmen as an examination of the myths that we made in the 20th Century and the ways they still haunt us now. it’s as dramatic and vital as the best comic books and as beautifully written and evocative as any literary novel today. Read it. You’ll see.”
—Christopher Farnsworth, author of Blood Oath and Flashmob

“Like Watchmen on crack.”

“If Nietzche had written an X-Men storyline whilst high on mescaline, it might have read something like The Violent Century.”
—Adam Roberts, author of Jack Glass

“An alternative history tour-de-force. Epic, intense and authentic. Lavie Tidhar reboots the 20th century with spies and superheroes battling for mastery—and the results are electric.”
—Tom Harper, author of The Lost Temple

“A stunning masterpiece”
The Independent “Tidhar synthesises the geeky and the political in a vision of world events that breaks new superhero ground.”
The Guardian  

“It’s hard, but not impossible as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mike Carey and others have shown, to create a morally complex, artistically ambitious story based on characters whose origins are not that far removed from the simplicity of Superman, Spiderman, and their ilk. Tidhar has succeeded brilliantly in this task.”
LA Review of Books

“A sophisticated, moving and gripping take on 20th century conflicts and our capacity for love and hate, honour and betrayal.”
The Daily Mail

“It’s the X-Men as written by John le Carré . . . A love story and meditation on heroism, this is an elegiac espionage adventure that demands a second reading.”

“Could keep anyone, regardless of the types of stories they regularly enjoy, interested and engaged. Tidhar has created a book that oozes excellence in both characterisation and storytelling.”
The Huffington Post

“A new masterpiece . . . a tremendous, unforgettable read.”
Library Journal, starred review

“A terrifically told tale of heroism and enduring friendship that captures our imaginations from the very first page.”

“If you love Philip K. Dick, Lavie Tidhar should be your new favorite writer . . . an unforgettable read.”
The Jewish Standard

“He’s dealing with the grandest schemes on the largest of backdrops in time and place, and this level of awe-inspiring craft places him firmly within the highest tier of writers working today, no longer an emerging writer, but a master.”
British Fantasy Society

“Intense and evocative”

“Wonderfully drawn . . . gripping, imaginative and moving”
Sci Fi Now

“The sort of thing Quentin Tarantino did as bloody wish-fulfillment in Inglourious Basterds, multiplied by several orders of magnitude.”

“This is a novel that can break your heart and then, ever so subtly, include a cameo by Stan Lee. Tidhar clearly knows as much about supermen of all kinds as he does about the circumstances that produce them.”
Strange Horizons

“At the last, Lavie Tidhar’s latest is at once a love story, a tragedy, a spy novel, a memoir of a friendship, an exposé of the horrors of war, and a very serious study of the superhero: the origins of the concept as well as its relative relevance. The Violent Century is a difficult text, yes, but one that gives as good as it gets.”

The Violent Century is an excellent novel that demonstrates, once again, the impressive versatility of its author.”

A masterful example of alternate universe science fiction and can only add to its author’s rapidly growing reputation.”
The Los Angeles Review of Books

“An original, engrossing fusion of noir-ish super-heroes and gritty espionage thriller . . . a fantastic novel”
Civilian Reader

“Tidhar has the chance to become this generation’s Ursula LeGuin, an author who is equally capable of engaging readers on a surfeit of levels, as socially conscious as he is literary, and as reckless as he is in control. The Violent Century is unquestionably one of the finest novels of 2013. Lavie Tidhar is no longer a rising star in the genre, but one burning bright.”
Staffer’s Book Review

“A powerful novel, which will no doubt reward rereading.”
Sci Fi Bulletin

“Tidhar brings everything to a stunning and satisfying conclusion. This book had me hooked from the beginning.”
A Bookish Type

About the Author

Lavie Tidhar (The Bookman; Unholy Land; A Man Lies Dreaming) is the author of the breakout Campbell and Neukom award-winning novel Central Station, which has been translated into ten languages. He has also received the British Science Fiction, Neukom Literary, and World Fantasy awards. Tidhar was born in Israel, grew up on a kibbutz, has lived in south Africa, Laos, and Vanuatu, and currently resides in London.

Praise for Unholy Land

“Lavie Tidhar does it again. A jewelled little box of miracles. Magnificent.”
—Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine

“[STARRED REVIEW] World Fantasy Award winner Tidhar (Central Station) will leave readers’ heads spinning with this disorienting and gripping alternate history. Author Lior Tirosh, grieving a personal tragedy, travels home after years abroad and immediately has a series of strange encounters that pull him into a complex plot to destroy the border between worlds. He arrives in Palestina, the land that the Jews were offered on the Ugandan border in 1904, which both closely resembles and is profoundly different from the Israel of our world, and is followed by two government agents who are trying to stop the destruction of ‘borders,’ though it’s unclear whose side they are really on. Tirosh discovers a niece he had forgotten, is accused of murder, narrowly dodges threats to his life, and takes on the role of a detective from one of his own novels as he tries to understand what is endangered and by whom. ‘No matter what we do, human history always attempts to repeat itself,’ Tidhar writes, even as he explores the substantial differences in history that might arise from single but significant choices. Readers of all kinds, and particularly fans of detective stories and puzzles, will enjoy grappling with the numerous questions raised by this stellar work.”
Publishers Weekly

“Extraordinary, confronting, intriguing. Unholy Land is a dream of a home that’s never existed, but is no less real for that: a dream that smells like blood and gunpowder. It’s precisely what we’ve come to expect of Tidhar, a writer who just keeps getting better.”
—Angela Slatter, author of the World Fantasy Award-winning The Bitterwood Bible

“There are SFF writers. There are good SFF writers. And there is Lavie Tidhar. In a genre entirely of his own, and quite possibly a warped genius, he rummages in the ruins of our centuries and our genres and makes out of them something strange, dark and utterly unique. There is no one like him writing in genre today. This [Unholy Land] is a twisted piece of alt-history/geography that refuses to go where lesser writers would drive it. Bold and witty and smoky, it plays games and coquetries, makes dark dalliances and will leave you dazzled and delighted.”
—Ian McDonald, author of Time Was and Luna: Wolf Moon

“Lavie takes us through a haunting, mesmerizing Judea, across multiple timelines into the promised night shelter in British East Africa. Here is an expedition at once proposed and taken, an alternate reality in which the holocaust is averted but the mechanics of displacement remain the same, where people are oppressed and oppressor at the same time. A genius, dreamlike fantasy for those who slip across might-have-been worlds.”
Saad Hussian, author of Escape from Baghdad

Unholy Land is a stunning achievement. It is packed to the brim with engaging ideas and features a captivating story . . . beautiful and thought-provoking.”
The Speculative Shelf

“By combining spatiotemporal mind games reminiscent of Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts with a cosmopolitan wit evocative of Graham Greene’s screenplay for The Third Man, Lavie Tidhar has given us a mystically charged, morally complex vision of Theodor Herzl’s famous Jewish state that might have been.”
—James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder and Shambling Towards Hiroshima

“Lavie Tidhar’s daring Unholy Land brilliantly showcases one of the foremost science fiction authors of our generation.”
—Silvia Moreno-Garcia, World Fantasy Award-winning editor and author of Certain Dark Things

Praise for Central Station

2017 John W. Campbell Award winner
2018 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award winner
2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, Best novel
2016 British Science Fiction Award longlist, Best novel
2017 British Science Fiction Award winner, Best artwork
2017 Geffen Award, Best Translated Science Fiction Book nominee

An NPR Best Book of 2016
A Best Book of 2016
An Amazon Featured Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book
A Kirkus 2016 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy pick
A Barnes and Noble Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2016
A UK Guardian Best SF & Fantasy Book of 2016

[STARRED REVIEW] “World Fantasy Award–winner Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming) magnificently blends literary and speculative elements in this streetwise mosaic novel set under the towering titular spaceport . . . Readers of all persuasions will be entranced.”
Publishers Weekly

[STARRED REVIEW] “A fascinating future glimpsed through the lens of a tight-knit community. Verdict: Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming; The Violent Century) changes genres with every outing, but his astounding talents guarantee something new and compelling no matter the story he tells.” —Library Journal “It is just this side of a masterpiece — short, restrained, lush — and the truest joy of it is in the way Tidhar scatters brilliant ideas like pennies on the sidewalk.”
NPR Books

“Beautiful, original, a shimmering tapestry of connections and images—I can’t think of another SF novel quite like it. Lavie Tidhar is one of the most distinctive voices to enter the field in many years.” —Alastair Reynolds, author of the Revelation Space series “If you want to know what SF is going to look like in the next decade, this is it.”
—Gardner Dozois, editor of the best-selling Year’s Best Science Fiction series

“A dazzling tale of complicated politics and even more complicated souls. Beautiful.”
—Ken Liu, Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy winner and author of The Grace of Kings

“If Nalo Hopkinson and William Gibson held a séance to channel the spirit of Ray Bradbury, they might be inspired to produce a work as grimy, as gorgeous, and as downright sensual as Central Station.”
—Peter Watts, author of Blindsight

Central Station is masterful: simultaneously spare and sweeping—a perfect combination of emotional sophistication and speculative vision. Tidhar always stuns me.”
—Kij Johnson, author of At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Central Station boasts complexity without complication, sharp prose, and a multi-dimensional world.”
—Jeffrey Ford, author of The Girl in the Glass

“A unique marriage of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, C. L. Moore, China Miéville, and Larry Niven with 50 degrees of compassion and the bizarre added. An irresistible cocktail.”
—Maxim Jakubowski, author of the Sunday Times bestselling Vina Jackson novels

“A mosaic of mind-blowing ideas and a dazzling look at a richly-imagined, textured future.”
—Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings

“I recommend it highly. It’ll stay with you for days, because every idea in it has more ideas under it. It’s all of science fiction distilled into a single book.”
—Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Gun Machine

“Sublimely sensual, emotionally moreish, and composed with crystalline clarity irrespective of its incredible complexity.”

“Brimming with sensory detail and paying tribute to a plethora of science-fiction tropes, there are few works to rival Central Station.”
Intergalactic Medicine Show

“Amidst the loves and the fears, Tidhar reminds us of the intoxicating and invigorating power of longing and nostalgia.”
The Jewish Standard

Praise for  the World Fantasy Award-winner, Osama

“Bears comparison with the best of Philip K. Dick”
The Financial Times

World Literature Today

Praise for The Violent Century

“A tour de force”
—James Ellroy, bestselling author of L.A. Confidential

“A stunning masterpiece”
The Independent

“A new masterpiece”
Library Journal

Jewish Standard

Praise for A Man Lies Dreaming

“A twisted masterpiece”

The Telegraph


Praise for The Bookman

“An emerging master”

“A steampunk treasure”
SFF World

“Sparks like a Roman candle”
Publishers Weekly

Visit the Lavie Tidhar website or follow him on Twitter.

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