Martin Millar (Piatkus, £8.99)

Martin Millar has already written about fairies, werewolves and gods, and his deceptively naïve style is a perfect fit for the self-absorbed, faux-innocent duo at the heart of this satirical comedy cyberthriller. Mox and Mitsu started Supercute Enterprises “in a bedroom in London, with only an iPhone and a collection of their favourite cuddly toys”. It’s now a media giant and world leader in water desalination, and is currently forging links with arms manufacturers. Their flagship kids’ programme is the biggest show on an ecologically devastated Earth. But one competitor is pulling out all the stops to take over their business. Much fun ensues as the surgically-enhanced pair get a taste of the real world while fighting to get their company back with the help of their devoted fanbase, an artificial intelligence and a grumpy private detective. It charms and amuses, although the idea of a Hello Kitty-type brand dominating the global economy and bringing governments to heel feels chillingly plausible.


Tim Bell (Luath Press, 14.99)

On his walks in Leith, Tim Bell guides visitors around the locations mentioned in Trainspotting, explaining the local history and how it shaped Irvine Welsh’s era-defining novel. This hugely informative book is like a vastly expanded version of one of those tours. Kicking off with the symbolism of Leith Central Station to the novel, and to the town in general, Bell explores the bumpy history of Leith and its relationship to Edinburgh, with particular emphasis on the post-War decline that led to the ‘80s heroin epidemic. His brief also includes Muirhouse and West Pilton, and how decades of misguided policies affected people living on those housing estates. Incorporating an overview and critique of the novel, Bell’s book is a hard-hitting social history brimming with local knowledge (I didn’t realise until now that I’d spent the late ‘80s living on a street notorious for smack dealing), which any fan of the book or film should find themselves unable to resist.


Carl Zimmer (Picador, £16.99)

J.B.S. Haldane famously said that the Universe is “not only queerer than we suppose but queerer than we can suppose”. One gets a similar feeling leafing through this book, in which Carl Zimmer argues that we need to adopt a much more sophisticated understanding of genetics than the simplistic Mendelian laws we learned at school – not least because poorly understood accounts of heredity have, as he recounts here, led to the spread of eugenics and “scientific racism”. This hefty book explains how mothers can inherit traits from their children as well as the other way around, and how it’s possible for women to have no DNA match with their offspring (“chimeras”). Zimmer tackles the genetic legacy of the Neanderthal, cross-species transmission, the exchange of genetic material with the microbes in our gut, epigenesis and other weird genetic anomalies, all of which taken together raises profound questions about where we’ve come from, who we think we are and where we’re going.