Blackfish City

A mysterious woman arrives in the floating Arctic city of Qaanaaq, in a future where rising seas have caused dramatic geopolitical changes. She’s accompanied by an orca and a polar bear, on a mission that might be bloody and might be beautiful and might be both.

The cover of the American edition, designed by Will Staehle.

One of the Best Books of 2018, according to Publishers Weekly & Kirkus Reviews & Vulture/New York Magazine &  Barnes & Noble & the Washington Post & The Oregonian & Powell’s Books

“‘Must-read’… Miller’s poetic prose gives this dystopian story a taut, lyrical edge.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Miller gives us an incisive and beautifully written story of love, revenge, and the power (and failure) of family in a scarily plausible future. Blackfish City simmers with menace and heartache, suspense and wonder. Plus, it has lots of action and a great cast of characters. Not to mention an orca and a polar bear!” —Ann Leckie, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Clarke Awards.

“Miller has written an urgent tale imploring us to look at the ties between technology, race, gender and class privilege. Still, the novel is surprisingly heartwarming. Ultimately, “Blackfish” is a book about power structures and the way that privilege is built on the backs of the disenfranchised — wrapped in an action-packed science fiction thriller.” – The Washington Post

Here’s the cover of the UK edition, from Orbit!!


“… an ambitious, imaginative, and big-hearted dystopian ensemble story that’s by turns elegiac and angry.”  — Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“A wildly inventive post-cyberpunk ride that also has real things to say about community and family. Sam Miller’s drowned future is vivid and fully real, even as he throws in the weird and the fantastic: nano-bonded orcas, cage fighters, AIs, and post-human sword fighters. Sam Miller is a fiercely strong writer, and this book is a blast.” – Daryl Gregory, World-Fantasy-Award-winning author of Spoonbenders and Afterparty

“This is the kind of swirling, original sci-fi we live for.” – Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

“A floating Arctic city; nano-bonded orcas and polar bears; an Earth violently reshaped by the mistakes we’re making right now… I haven’t been this swept away by imagination and worldbuilding since Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. A gorgeous, queer, muscular novel.” – Carmen Maria Machado, National Book Award-nominated author of Her Body and Other Parties

“An immediate page-turner… Particularly delightful is the prevalence of LGBT characters in this gripping novel full of vivid descriptions, compelling characters, timely urgency, and thrilling action.” – The Advocate

“Harsh and lovely… Although it has its bleak and very violent moments, there’s also a certain amount of optimism in this story, which ultimately proves to be about family and the hard-won strength of those who survive against all odds. Author and professional activist Miller (The Art of Starving, 2017) allows his passion for advocacy—for people desperately clinging to their hope for a home, exploited minorities, and those outside the cishet dichotomy—to inform and structure his fiction but in such an integral and yet casual way that it never feels preachy.” – Kirkus (starred review)

“Bleak, gut-wrenching, yet beautifully written, Blackfish City ponders what makes a society thrive or die.” – Amazon Book Review

Miller… knows how to make a splash; he’s created a vivid dystopian metropolis that feels distressingly real and wonderfully fantastical. There’s a warmth to Blackfish City as well…. the story moves at a brisk pace as Miller shows great skill in fleshing out his world without drowning us in its details. You’ll be drawn into Blackfish City in no time at all.” – SciFiNow

“Really great… If Waterworld had brains and vision and a degree in economics, it might’ve turned out something like this.” – G. Willow Wilson

“Blackfish City feels like a place I’ve never seen in a story before, but I came away feeling as though I’d lived there forever. One of the most intriguing future cities in years.” – Charlie Jane Anders, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Lambda Literary Awards

“…an addictive tale of redemption and hope emerges from a grimy future.” – Bookpage

“…Qaanaaq is vividly brought to life in all its squalid glory, and Miller excels at depicting a metropolis bursting at the seams and populated by both refugees and the elite. Blackfish City is a compelling dystopian thriller.” – The Guardian

Blackfish City is a remarkable work of dystopian imagination… a gorgeously realised world that feels textured and authentic. Author Sam J. Miller… writes exquisitely and presents us with a future that is terrifyingly plausible but never less than mesmerising. Blackfish City isn’t a place any of us would want to live in, but it’s on our horizon if we don’t watch out.” – Starburst Magazine

“A masterfully crafted, fast-paced read. It’s fun. It’s timely. And it should definitely be on your summer reading list… first and foremost, Blackfish City is a tale about family: lost family reunited, queer family surviving and thriving, animals as family, and family at-once loyal and compassionate and fully at war with itself. It is a human story that introduces us to characters who are relatable and flawed, heroic and scarred.” – Lambda Literary Review

an exhilarating tour of a post-catastrophe future that’s both fantastical and eerily convincing… A saltwater-splashed refuge for misfits and cutthroats, teeming with mystery and intrigue, Blackfish City is a place you might never want to live in – but as a reader, you won’t want to leave.”—Adam Sternbergh, author of The Blinds

“… a triumph. Thrilling, heartfelt and ferociously political, it is the kind of fiction we need more of if we are to survive the climate catastrophe that is already enveloping our world — James Bradley, author of Clade

“Fans of dystopian sci-fi will eat this one up – it’s only January and already I can guarantee this one will make a lot of best of 2018 lists.” – Bookbag

“Blackfish City has all of the elements of a page-turner, with conspiracies and mysteries aplenty, and Miller’s juxtaposition of advanced technology and a decaying world is so rich you can almost smell the ozone and rust. Miller’s treatment of divided loyalties and lost and found families (no spoilers—you’ll just have to read the book) is as complicated and convincing as any real life has to offer.  Plus the polar bear. Seriously, the polar bear is pure gold.” – Lightspeed 

“…a thought-provoking and ambitious book… delightful and handsome at turns, a signal of the directions science fiction has to go in as contemporary life continues to evolve at pace. This novel is queer, political, and eager to change the status quo.” –

“This has the look and feel of science fiction, but the novel tells a timeless story of rebellion against a corrupt master, giving it a kind of Hunger Games resonance that reaches beyond any genre boundaries. Miller is a graceful writer, easing us into the story gently, letting us get acclimated to its time and place, before subtly speeding up the pace and plunging us into the characters’ race for survival. And what fine characters they are: people of the future, yes, but with all the texture and believability of ordinary folk.” – Booklist

… seethes with competing interests and despair, but also joy, politics, crime, and brutal orcamancy. Miller is our best guide for this prophetic tale with its morass of characters locked into their destiny against a background of warped urban landscape. The book is cinematic and punchy.”  –  Tade Thompson, Nommo Award-winning author of Rosewater and The Murders of Molly Southbourne 

“Miller draws a fascinating post-collapse future, mixing low-life and high concept SF to create something very different.” – Adrian Tchaikovsky, Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author

“Imaginative, compulsive and all-too plausible.” – Gareth L. Powell, BSFA Award-winning author

“Miller has created a world that is so deep, complex and well-imagined that it almost appears to be a living breathing entity . . . Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys science-fiction . . . I can see this making many ‘best-of-the-year’ lists in 2018.” – Fantasy Book Review

“An impressive sci-fi debut… spectacular.” – Chicago Tribune

“Imaginative and well-realised… a gripping and exciting read.” – Socialist Worker

“Damn near perfect… a vividly rendered (and terrifyingly believable) setting, a diverse set of characters put in an impossible situation, and a defiant hope that even with all the pain in the world, all the damage done, we can still find ways to fight back against corruption, and tyranny.” – Book Smugglers 

“What Blackfish City does brilliantly and consistently is paint a world worth saving, alongside the people in it. Blackfish City argues that it is worth fighting for the right to eat noodles… to walk along the pier and watch the seals in the knowledge that you matter beyond what the system has calculated, that you are part of, and therefore are responsible for, this city, which provides the potential for true multiculturalism, community, and transformed notions of interconnectedness.” – Strange Horizons

“Functioning at the intersections of science fiction, speculative fiction, revolution and not-quite-apocalypse, this is a wise and heart-filled novel… I’d argue that it’s one of the best endings I’ve ever read. I put the book down and just sat with it for a moment, letting it wash over me. I know it will stay with me for a long, long while. I cannot recommend it enough. Sam J. Miller has crafted something truly unique and urgent, mesmeric and tender, full of heartache and love.”  – Book Reporter

“Truly remarkable in scope. An eco-punk thriller with startling implications for how climate change, technology, and the political machinations of the mega-rich could dramatically alter our future…  Sam J. Miller’s sophomore effort proves him a writer with real potential. Best to start here, and prepare yourself for many more strange journeys at his side.” – Barnes & Noble

The cover of the French edition, from Albin Michel Imaginaire.