Selected as one of the Best Books of 2013 by the AV Club (The Onion)
"The most daring debut novel of 2013." - Staffer's Book Review
WAYS TO BUY
No Return was released in hardcover by Night Shade Books in March of 2013, and in paperback in July of 2014. It can be ordered from Amazon and all major and minor bookstores. If someone doesn't have it on the shelf, you can always ask them to order it (this supports local markets, which is awesome).
"Jernigan made Science-Fantasy feel very cool again..."
- The Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review
"No Return asks the kinds of questions speculative fiction should ask, and provides the kinds of answers that literary fiction thinks it owns. Not to mention the occasional twisted sex scenes that erotica would happily claim. Although frustrated by the need to wait, I’ll do just that, in hopes that Zachary Jernigan finds in his heart to deliver on the promises made by an ambitious debut novel." ... "It is, in fact, the most daring debut novel of 2013, with bizarre characters, bizarre scenes, bizarre language, and bizarre world building." (2013 Debut List)
- Justin Landon, Staffer's Book Review
"Vivid, varied, and violent. At once beautiful and terrible to behold."
- Nickolas Sharps, SF Signal
"A science-fantasy epic that’s as much perverse hybrid as it is an homage to an earlier era when those genres weren't so strictly segregated, No Return is set on a world that bears wizards and astronauts equally. It also pulls no punches in its rich, visceral depictions of sexuality, martial arts, punk energy, and the philosophical quandaries of power and identity that speculative fiction uniquely exploits — and that few up-and-coming speculative writers outside Jernigan tackle with such guts."
- Jason Heller, the A.V. Club (The Onion)
"[A] hypnotic sort of read the evokes a lot of the same awe and wonder I felt reading Gene Wolfe’s stuff; the Elizabeth Hand blurb tells you all you need to know. If you love the shock and awe of science-fantasy and don’t care much for paint-by-numbers plots, pick this up."
- Kameron Hurley, author of God's War
"[A] fascinating exploration of how atheism might function in a world where everyone knows that God (or at least, a god) exists."
- Amy Goldschlager, Locus
"A visionary, violent, sexually charged, mystical novel — No Return challenges classification. Clearly, Zachary Jernigan has no respect for genre confines. His tale of gods hanging in the sky and a “constructed man” with glowing blue coals for his eyes and a motley band of fighters navigating a harsh landscape peopled by savage creatures and religious zealots… Well, it’s pure genius. Here’s hoping it’s just the first of many such works from this guy."
- David Anthony Durham, Campbell Award-winning author of the Acacia Trilogy
"[A] fascinating world, nicely-executed plot ... and a wonderfully squishy and twisted aesthetic. No Return is an excellent fit for readers of Mark Charan Newton's Legend of the Red Sun series or those who enjoy the fantasies of M. John Harrison, Gene Wolfe or Jack Vance."
- Jared, Pornokitsch
"Mages in orbit? Fuck it, why not? No Return provides relief from two over-troped genres at once. On the one hand it's a fantasy with a practical mindedness to the magic. I don't know if I've ever read a story where the magic users fly into the upper atmosphere before. It was a refreshing divergence from the usual semi-ren faire vibe. Or you can flip it around and see it as a space opera without the typical pseudo-science gymnastics. Space suits? Na, how about the skins of long dead alien race and a god on a space station?"
- Tone Milazzo, author of Picking Up The Ghost
"...a bold, determined voice, with a razor’s edge balance of rawness and assuredness; each character’s point of view was distinct and fully realized. This is absolutely an heroic fantasy novel not to be missed."
- Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, The AudioBookaneers
"Jernigan's first novel, the opening gambit in a saga of religious war, magical science, and martial combat, is a mixture of epic and sword-and-sorcery fantasy. The author's style, with its sensuality and, often, erotic ambiance, calls to mind the novels of Tanith Lee's "Flat Earth" series as well as the eclectic imaginings of Michael Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" novels. A promising voice."
- Library Journal (Barnes & Noble)
"[A] refreshing blend of literary science fiction and fantasy sure to engross readers of genre fiction. If you are looking for something challenging and original, look no further. No Return’s characters resist archetypes. The story refuses to fall into familiar tropes. Jernigan’s use of lyrical prose and imagery contrasts sharply with an impending sense of violence throughout. He has a voice that demands to be heard, and I’m betting he’ll have a strong career ahead of him."
- Jordan Ricks, Adventures in SciFi Publishing
"This novel is brilliant ...at once a twisted, dirty-mirror echo of the kinds of fantasy that has come before it, and also something new, bold and visionary. Hell of a read."
- Dave-Brendon de Burgh, author of Betrayal's Shadow
Staring into the night sky, the inhabitants of Jeroun call the glittering string of objects they see stretching before the moon the Needle. It’s actually a collection of iron spheres made by the god Adrash, his threatening ultimatum to the people on the planet below:
Prove yourselves worthy, or be destroyed.
Vedas is a member of the Black Suits, an order of men and women who show their opposition to Adrash by staging battles in the streets. After witnessing the death of a child in his care and knowing himself to be responsible, he sets off on a journey to the decennial fighting tournament in Danoor.
Traveling with him across the continent are Churls, a mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Berun, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the soul of his creator. Both come to understand that Vedas's victory would start an all-out religious war.
Unbeknownst to these three travelers, the aristocratic outbound mage Ebn and her protégé Pol are using powerful alchemy to travel into space, with plans to engage Adrash in ways that threaten to bring the god’s wrath down upon the world.
No Return combines the mythic inventiveness of early Roger Zelazny and Samuel R. Delany, the dark weirdness of China Mieville, and the epic scope of George R. R. Martin, creating a literary science fiction novel that defies easy categorization and resulting in one of the most critically acclaimed debuts of 2013.
"Zachary Jernigan's genre-defying epic raises the bar for literary speculative fiction. It has the sweep of Frank Herbert's Dune and the intoxicatingly strange grandeur of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, with a decadent, beautifully rendered vision all its own. One of the most impressive debuts of recent years."
- Elizabeth Hand, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author of Available Dark and Radiant Days
"Zachary Jernigan writes with a flair for the weird and makes it endearing enough for readers to feel familiar with it. No Return is a magnificent debut that straddles fantasy and SF genres seamlessly and makes itself into a jewel faceting both fields. I completely loved this debut and will have very high hopes from Mr. Jernigan for all his future works based on the raw talent that is showcased within. Make sure you don’t miss this one as this book will be definitely featuring highly in my year end lists."
- Mihir Wanchoo, Fantasy Book Critic
"Jernigan's fiction is luminous and hallucinatory with its world-building, while still grounding readers into strong characters fully human. He scribes the future as an alien landscape with only just enough familiarity to unsettle us from our familiar, comfortable tropes. I highly recommend this gorgeous debut novel to all fans of strange fiction."
- J.M. McDermott, author of The Dogsland Trilogy
"The novel has a fierce momentum that carries through both action and exposition. There are echoes of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun in its SFnal baroqueness and blurring of genre distinctions, but Jernigan’s writing is much more kinetic and has less wordplay and ostentation than Wolfe’s magnum opus. It is visceral not just in its focus on the physicality, emotions, and sexuality of its characters, but in the way that things deep inside, felt bodily and obscured, propel the characters."
- John H. Stevens, SF Signal
"No Return was a breath of fresh air. I was expecting one thing and was pleasantly surprised when I dug a little deeper and found something unforeseen. It is a very philosophical book. Jernigan has taken all the fun parts of a sociology class and wrote a very entertaining book about it. Recommended."
- Tyson J. Mauermann, Speculative Book Review
"No Return is a rich, diverse, inventive fantasy, in a style that reminds me in some ways of Tanith Lee's Tales from the Flat Earth books. Zachary Jernigan has created a stunningly original world and I can't wait to see where he takes it next."
- Martha Wells, author of The Books of the Raksura
"No Return displays the kind of prose, worldbuilding and depth of characterization that place Zachary Jernigan securely within the top tier of Fantasy authors. The prose pulls you in like a piece of art, forcing you to slow down and observe. The worldbuilding makes you imagine maps, bar room brawls over differences in customs, kids praying to the god who lives on the moon, women making sex spells, warriors becoming one with their self-controlled, mutating body suits … all in a way that separates the world in No Return from generic fantasy – this world is alive! (Even as I call it Fantasy, it is just as much Space Opera because the potential for exploration goes far beyond just the planet described...)"
Timothy C. Ward, Adventures in SciFi Publishing
"Jernigan's debut is full of wonder: a smart adventure, with measures of philosophy and violence and lust. For all its strangeness and far-flung setting, No Return is a very human novel. Like Samuel Delany and Gene Wolfe, Jernigan can write a rousing, literary genre story that pushes boundaries and transgresses categorization."
- Brent Hayward, author of Filaria and The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter
"It’s a bold and interesting story set in a fascinating world and told through the eyes of five points of views that touch upon gods, identity, sex, and violence, leaving you breathless and a little uncomfortable, but definitely begging for more."
- Wesley Chu, Amazon Kindle Daily Post
"The greatest pleasure a reader can have is for their expectations to be confounded, to find their eye drawn word by word down a different path to the one anticipated. Genre fiction is too often comfort food, and the palate can grow complacent. No Return is not a complacent book and it took me somewhere unexpected and new."
- Martin Lewis, Strange Horizons
"Be careful picking this one up, because once you join with the adventurers in this strange and stunning debut novel, there will be no going back to familiar precincts of heroic fantasy. Zachary Jernigan starts at the very edge of the map and plunges deep into uncharted territory. Mages in space, do-it-yourself gods, merciless killers in love and a mechanical warrior with a heart of bronze await your reading pleasure. For thinking readers who like swashbuckling with an edge, No Return delivers."
- James Patrick Kelly, winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards
"Zachary Jernigan's No Return is probably the best and the most imaginative debut speculative fiction novel of 2013. Its pages are full of wonders, weirdness, sex and violence. It's a perfect example of what a talented speculative fiction author can achieve when he has enough imagination. It's difficult to imagine that other authors could achieve this kind of level of originality, style and depth with their debut novels this year."
- Sami Airola, Risingshadow
"I haven’t read a book this deep in quite some time. No Return is a book of contrasts, a book that not only shows the extreme ends of an argument, but all the shades of grey in between. If you are looking for a fun Sunday afternoon read then you might want to keep looking, but those who are looking for an entertaining yet challenging book, I think you will love No Return."
- Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review
"...No Return needs to be noticed. There is so much more to it than the accoutrement would imply. Populated with a fair amount of face punching, as coded by the visceral cover, it contains a tenderness and at times overt eroticism that’s often ignored in science fiction and fantasy. Zachary Jernigan has something unique to say, a voice we’re not hearing from anywhere else. I dearly hope more readers, and award afficianados, take an opportunity to listen to him. "
- Justin Landon, Tor.com
"Despite the book’s flaws for me, I enjoyed No Return, very much. It's an intriguing debut, and I look forward to what Jernigan will come up with, either in this world, or in others of his creation."
- Paul Weimer, Functional Nerds
"Jernigan has really unleashed something unique on the world with No Return. It doesn't fit nicely into any boxes or cookie cutters. It’s quick moving, subtle yet bold, and absolutely R-Rated and raw. While there’s plenty here that might make some readers uncomfortable, I think Jernigan should take that as a compliment. It’s not often that a book is realistic and vivid enough to make readers uncomfortable. That kind of sums up No Return for me. It’s bold and vivid and it will probably make you uncomfortable, but that’s not a bad thing. Jernigan takes you on a one-of-a-kind journey and he leaves you breathless, gasping, and full of new thoughts."
- Sarah Chorn, Bookworm Blues
"Let’s just say No Return is as weird as China Mieville, as imaginatively rich as Roger Zelazny, as epic in scale as Steven Erikson, and as bloody and violent as the UFC. That’s a winning mix for me."
- Peter Darbyshire, author of The Warhol Gang and The Mona Lisa Sacrifice