Kingdom Come is a speculative thriller that exploits ideological fault lines within the United Kingdom. In 2015, an increasingly conservative Britain has stumbled into potential economic prosperity by discovering oil off the coasts of Scotland and Wales, but the leaders of those regions see it as a way to seek independence from the UK. The British government violently intervenes, giving rise to anti-English terrorism and setting off a six-year long saga of political upheaval that recalls The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The British government grows isolated, shunned by its allies for funding loyalist terror groups and introducing juryless trials. The resistance movement becomes both more violent and more popular, with supporters from rock stars to the UN Security Council, and the situation ultimately deteriorates into civil war, leaving all parties no option but to strike a hasty compromise.
Hundreds of characters populate Kingdom Come, but few have relationships or desires apart from their politics. They are described briefly by name and/or title, each of them “stunningly attractive” or surprisingly formidable (an unlikely number of politicians are ex-boxers, rugby players, or martial arts experts). Dialogue, which drives the plot, is indistinct and often confusing due to inconsistent use of quotation marks and the occasional typo. Events unfold with repetitive and unsentimental detail, and, curiously, social media plays no discernible role in this revolution.
Kingdom Come is a mixed bag that does not fit neatly into a genre. The author has an impressive understanding of the complicated nexus between politics, media, and culture, and his work might be best understood as an imagined history. But the joy of reading a true historical account is in learning facts, whereas the role of speculative fiction is to provoke or entertain and, unfortunately, Kingdom Come lacks the character perspective required to create memorable drama or suspense.