Em X. Liu’s The Death I Gave Him (Solaris, 2023) brings a science fiction twist to Shakespeare’s beloved Hamlet.
Working at Elsinore Labs, Hayden Lichfield and his father are in relentless pursuit of the cure for mortality. The night of Hayden’s breakthrough should be cause for celebration until he finds his father murdered. As he flees with the research, his uncle puts Elsinore Labs on lockdown. Trapped inside with only 4 other people, old secrets, alliances, and lies are revealed. When the murderer starts to look like Hayden, he leans on his only ally, the laboratory’s AI, Horatio.
“The inception of the novel really came from retelling or receiving Hamlet in this specific way.” says Liu, “It's kind of a murder mystery, kind of an emotional thriller. Ultimately, I would really describe it as a character study. “
Liu is keenly aware that playing with a Hamlet story means surprising both readers who are familiar with Hamlet or those who are not. This locked-room thriller is one that keeps the reader guessing.
Em X. Liu is a writer and recent biochemistry graduate, which means they love stories about artificial intelligence and Shakespeare in equal measure. Since immigrating to Canada, they never go long without hopping on a plane to wander new places. But out of all the cities they've been to, they still love their home in Toronto the most.
Brenda Noiseux hosts New Books in Science Fiction.