Firebreak (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Badge
Firebreak Cover Image
In Stock at Our Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews

It has taken me a couple of days to feel prepared to write a review for Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace. It is one of those books that burrows into your brain. It's also kind of hard to decide what might be a spoiler or not.

This book is a thrill ride at in a near-future, totally believable and therefore terrifying dystopia. Definitely for those who loved Warcross or Ready Player One, a large chunk of the story takes place inside a VR game where players can make a living by streaming their feeds and getting tips. Our narrator, Nycorix, is a mediocre player who accidentally happens across something that gets her a little attention, but some of that is from a sponsor with a hell of a theory about what the corporation who owns the world is actually up to.

There are some sci-fi elements, obviously, but most of them are so close to available technology that is hard to call it sci-fi. It also doesn't get bogged down in the science of it. This story mostly reads like a thriller, and it is fabulous. There are so many turns you didn't see coming. While the original question does get resolved, by the end of the book, you kind of forget you were even supposed to wonder about that. I also really love that the main character clearly has some social anxiety, but her friends help cover for that without judging her or complaining. I had trouble putting this one down every time I had to go back to work or go to sleep.

— From Anna's Staff Picks


One young woman faces down an all-powerful corporation in this all-too-near future science fiction debut that reads like a refreshing take on Ready Player One, with a heavy dose of Black Mirror.

Ready Player One meets Cyberpunk 2077 in this eerily familiar future.

“Twenty minutes to power curfew, and my kill counter’s stalled at eight hundred eighty-seven while I’ve been standing here like an idiot. My health bar is flashing ominously, but I’m down to four heal patches, and I have to be smart.”

New Liberty City, 2134.

Two corporations have replaced the US, splitting the country’s remaining forty-five states (five have been submerged under the ocean) between them: Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf. There are nine supercities within the continental US, and New Liberty City is the only amalgamated city split between the two megacorps, and thus at a perpetual state of civil war as the feeds broadcast the atrocities committed by each side.

Here, Mallory streams Stellaxis’s wargame SecOps on BestLife, spending more time jacked in than in the world just to eke out a hardscrabble living from tips. When a chance encounter with one of the game’s rare super-soldiers leads to a side job for Mal—looking to link an actual missing girl to one of the SecOps characters. Mal’s sudden burst in online fame rivals her deepening fear of what she is uncovering about BestLife’s developer, and puts her in the kind of danger she’s only experienced through her avatar.

Author Kornher-Stace’s adult science fiction debut—Firebreak— is loaded with ambitious challenges and a city to save.

About the Author

Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of the Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp and its sequel, Latchkey. Her short fiction has appeared in ClarkesworldApex, and Fantasy Magazine, as well as many anthologies. She lives in New Paltz, New York, with her family. She can be found online at, or on Twitter @WireWalking.

Praise For…

Firebreak is a simmering scream, a pot bucking on a stove after all the water's boiled away. It's a fight song in praise of fierce friendship and the strength to endure.” —Amal El-Mohtar, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of This is How You Lose the Time War

Firebreak is a klaxon sounding at midnight. It is a howl and a wake-up call. It is a fire that does what literary fires do best: spits rage, radiates the warmth of compassion, and fans the flame of revolution. —C. S. E. Cooney, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Bone Swans: Stories

“A steadfast heroine stands up against a tyrannical corporation in this vivid work of dystopian sci-fi…. The effortlessly detailed worldbuilding is captivating. Kornher-Stace leads readers through the cinematic landscape of her imagined future with an expert hand.” —Publisher's Weekly

"Modestly, quietly profound… A resonant tale of erasure and absence—and an aching reminder that regaining what has been lost isn't always the answer.” —NPR, Archivist Wasp

“Gripping action… [with] deepening mysteries in restrained prose studded with flashes of vulgar brutality and startling poetry.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review, Latchkey

Product Details
ISBN: 9781982142742
ISBN-10: 198214274X
Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Pages: 416
Language: English