Keeping it Real (Quantum Gravity 1) by Justina Robson [Book Review]

Lila Black, Sex, Elves and Rock’n’Roll . . .

This new-to-me series (I have in fact finished all five books now) takes place in a fantasy world that works according to scientific principles where a quantum bomb unraveled reality and put earth in contact with other dimensions that already knew all about us. Alfheim, Demonia and Fae being the more accessible. Earth still doesn’t know much about the other worlds but have intelligence agencies working on it. One such agent is Lila Black, our intrepid and formidable protagonist.

Lila is not exactly peachy after being turned into half a machine after a supposedly safe recon mission into Alfheim. Her new mission is to be the body guard of a sexy elven rock star Zal of the band No Show. He is not exactly as she expected and then she gets locked in a Game with him. But before it gets too steamy things derail a bit and she has to enter Alfheim again in pursuit of answers.

I really like this multi verse of unpredictable Fey, mysterious Elves and haughty Demons. Lila’s journey through Alfheim peels layer after layer of our preconceptions of what is really going on and shows us the greater game but the ending is still a great surprise.

The characters are also great. Lila is slightly flawed, damaged psychologically from being maimed and being turned into a machine but with a lot of spirit and tenacity she prevails. Her battle mode also helps. Zal is a bit of the mysterious dangerous but charming stranger and I do enjoy the Game they play a lot. Lila also has a thing for motorcycles I enjoyed immensely. What a ride! This is something that we return to in later books too.

Keeping it Real is is a bit like a more steamy Buffy with cyborg enhancements, gunfights and wonderful one liners (they have those on Buffy too). It was a fast read too. Justina Robson and Lila Black are guilty pleasures I warmly recommend.


Title: Keeping it Real
Series: Quantum Gravity book 1
Author: Justina Robson
Genre: Scientific Fantasy
Paperback: 279 pages
Publisher: Gollancz 2006
Order from: Amazon US | UK


The Quantum Bomb of 2015 changed everything. The fabric between the dimensions was ttorn and now, six years later, the people of earth exist in uneasy company with the inhabitants of, amongst others, the elven, elemental, and demonic realms. Magic is real and can be even more dangerous than technology. Elves are alien, erotic and very dangerous. Elementals are a law unto themselves and demons are best left well to themselves.

Special agent Lila Black, 21, used to be pretty, but now she’s not so sure.

Torn apart two years ago, her body is now half restless carbon and metal alloy. A machine she’s barely in control of. When it goes into combat mode, enough weapons for a small army springing from within itself, at the merest provocation. And then there’s her AI. And Lila has never known where she ends and it begins.

As for her heart . . . well ever since being drawn into a Game by the elf she’s been assigned to protect, she’s not even sure she can trust that anymore either.