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McIntosh, Will

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1962-    ) US author who began to publish work of genre interest with "A Flea Market Vendor Falls in Love in a Time of Sleeplessness" in NFG for September 2003, and who has since published his short fiction widely. Reviewing his first novel, Soft Apocalypse (September 2005 Interzone; much exp 2011), Gary K Wolfe suggested in "Locus Looks at Books" (February 2011 Locus) that its title neatly characterized a mutation of the Holocaust tale away from single violent Disasters or causations into renderings of the planet as by multiply afflicted by Homo sapiens behaviour, typically with a focus on the accumulating effects of neoliberal Economics and Politics upon the planet. McIntosh's novel itself is set in Near Future America, extending over a decade from 2023, as the world order continues slowly to disintegrate, and Technology-based fixes change the world mainly via unexamined side-effects.

The Post-Holocaust scenario unpacked in McIntosh's second novel, Hitchers (2012), increases the rate of collapse, but similarly eschews any significant outsourcing of blame from the larger moiety of the inhabitants of the Western world primarily responsible for crises of Pollution and Ecological degradation; a manufactured Pandemic is sufficient here, though is sufficient here, thought the tale slips into Equipoisal territory as the eponymous undead begin to ride the living. Love Minus Eighty (short version December 2008 Asimov's as "Bridesicle"; much exp 2013) is also set in a multiply decaying world, where oligarchs live easy and the vast majority are left to give suck to Virtual Reality placebos; the protagonist, having killed his girlfriend in a car crash, must attempt to earn her back, for she has become a bridesicle who can only be reborn by luring a rich man to buy her. "Bridesicle" won a 2010 Hugo award for best story.

A more dramatic apocalypse – Invasion of Earth by Aliens whose Telepathic abilities allow them to anticipate human attempts to resist them – governs Defenders (2014), in which Genetically Engineered warriors, who lack human empathy, are created to defend the world. Everywhere, the costs are great. The Young Adult Burning Midnight (2016) revolves around the mystery generated by the mysterious arrival from the sky (evocative of the kind of world typically created by Robert Charles Wilson) of "marbles" which convey mild Superpowers and, when properly conjoined, open the way to darker worlds within. Faller (2016) can be seen in part as a play on the soft apocalypse topos, though a Near Future transfiguration of constant crises into a genuine World War Three only begins slow. As in previous McIntosh tales, Inventions – in this case a Matter Duplicator which works by sending objects a millisecond or so back in Time through a Wormhole, and which wins its inventor a Nobel Prize – entail heavy consequences: a "Singularity" is created, dozens of fragments of New York, and perhaps all of the planet, are cast into a blown-up universe. The human survivors, having undergone Memory Edit through the process of duplication, must attempt to survive, but usually starve to death. The Nobel-Prize-winning protagonist, who never regains his memory, recreates something of a family in the spinning chaos of the new universe. Though occasionally prone to cartoonish excess, McIntosh is a significant figure in the adaptation of Genre SF to the new century. [JC]

William D McIntosh

born New York: 31 January 1962


  • Soft Apocalypse (San Francisco, California: Night Shade Books, 2011) [pb/Nonie Nelson]
  • Hitchers (San Francisco, California: Night Shade Books, 2012) [hb/Sam Wolfe Connelly]
  • Love Minus Eighty (New York: Orbit, 2013) [pb/Erin Mulvehill]
  • Defenders (New York: Orbit, 2014) [pb/Alp Allen Altiner]
  • Burning Midnight (New York: Delacorte Press, 2016) [hb/Leo Nickolls]
  • Faller (New York: Tor, 2016) [hb/]
  • Unbreakable (no place given: Will McIntosh, 2017) [pb/]
  • Watchdog (New York: Delacorte Press, 2017) [hb/M S Corley]

collections and stories

  • The Perimeter (New York: Orbit, 2012) [novella: ebook: na/]
  • City Living (New York: Orbit, 2015) [novelette: ebook: na/]


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