In The Old Lie, Claire G. Coleman has given herself a right of reply to her award-winning début novel, Terra Nullius (2017). Here, she strips away some of the racial ambiguity of the human–alien invasion allegory of that novel and leaves in its place a meaty analysis of colonisation and imperialism.
The Old Lie is also a hoot, a rollick through both sci-fi and speculative fiction. While some early action sequences may leave the reader scurrying for purchase in a vacuum not unlike the great yawn of space, they reflect the confusion of war and displacement. Although it strands us, as bodies boil or suffocate and planets succumb, it has the merit of making her readers work hard – encoding revelation after revelation about contemporary realities into a knotted, visceral plot.