Light Over Liskeard

Louis de Bernières

Light Over Liskeard
Vintage Publishing
United Kingdom
10 October 2023

Light Over Liskeard

Louis de Bernières

Copies with signed bookplates are available for a limited time. While stock lasts.

Sometimes we must look to the past to survive the future.

Q wants a simpler and safer life. His work as a quantum cryptographer for the government has led him to believe a crisis is imminent for civilisation and he's looking for somewhere to ride out what's ahead.

He buys a ruined farmhouse in Cornwall and begins to build his own self-sufficient haven. Over the course of this quest he meets the eccentric characters who already live on the moors nearby - including the park ranger in charge of the reintroduced lynxes and aurochs that roam the area; a holy man waiting for the second coming on top of a nearby hill; an Arthurian knight on horseback and the amorous ghost of an Edwardian woman who haunts the farmhouse.

As life in the cities gets more complicated, and our systems of electronic control begin to fall apart, Q flourishes in the wild Cornish countryside. His new way of life brings him back in tune with his teenage children, his ex-wife, and his own sense of who he is. He also grows close to Eva, energetic and enchanting, who is committed to her own quest for love and meaning.

In this entertaining and heart-warming novel Louis de Bernieres pokes fun at modern mores, and makes us reconsider what is really precious in our short and precarious lives.


If all the computers and machines in the world stopped due to a cyber attack, then in all probability humanity would dissolve into anarchy and at its bleakest would be obliterated – unless you were a survivalist. Louis de Bernière’s new novel is about a quantum cryptographer (an adjunct of quantum mechanics) whose job involves preempting cyber attacks or resolving them as quickly as possible. The British government is his employer, hackers are his nemeses.

Light Over Liskeard is a satire (or warning) of the world’s future as it portrays communities that are on the precipice of dissolution. People live their lives restricted by computer technology and are dependent on robots. They are apathetic, have poor interpersonal skills and do not interact with nature; the majority can’t even be bothered to have children. Their lives are a simulated nightmare. The quantum cryptographer, who is known as ‘Q’, has been planning an escape to the country to live as self-sufficiently as possible before what he believes is the imminent collapse of society. But his plans are seriously compromised by his lack of any practical skills whatsoever. The land and house he buys are derelict, but his closest neighbours have all the skills he lacks to live off the land. And so begins a working and mentoring relationship.

As he leaves his city life and failed marriage behind, he develops new relationships, both intimate and neighbourly. His children, when they visit, begin to act less like zombies and interact with and appreciate the natural world. Q is still working and attempting to hold back the apocalypse which he is sure is approaching. He knows it is not physical wars we need to fear, but our dependence on technology; humanity is on a knife edge.

For the most part, I was completely engaged with Light Over Liskeard, but feel it would have been a stronger work and more original if the tiresome trope of older men’s wistful fantasies of younger women had not made an appearance. Male readers may disagree, and it could make for interesting discussions, particularly for book clubs.

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