Nova Swing by M. John Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had slightly higher expectations for this novel simply because I was blown away by all the awesome ideas that he managed to stuff into Light, and don't get me wrong, he continues the trend beautifully and a lot more cohesively from Vic's PoV, a travel agent that sometimes takes chumps to the Kefahuchi Tract, or at least to what has become of it after it descended to, and transformed, huge portions of Earth.
To be clear, this means that the laws of what should or should not be possible have been temporarily suspended in this area, and it also means that this novel has firmly slotted itself into the category of the New Weird.
A lot happens, just as many ideas are paraded about in awesome strangeness, including K-Ship tech on the surface of the planet in the hands of shop owners, of semi-intelligent tattoos, the need for rickshaws, and some of the funniest juxtapositions of gene-splicing technology for the marks that I've read, including transforming yourself to have the beauty of an old Einstein, because peeps in the 25th century just don't understand certain things... they should be going after his BRAINS... Not his LOOKS... lol
And this is also a mystery. The murders are still going on and it harkens straight back to the first novel and the odd end we got.
But most of all, with all the sex and the dreams and all the sheer naked desire for something more being displayed on everyone's scenes, it's also good commentary. About them. Not us. We certainly look nothing like that, do we?
Still, as much as I love so much of what's going on here, I wasn't quite as invested in these characters as I should have been, and that's despite the great line, "After all, no one has ever given a fuck about a fat man named Anton." I mean, truly, in a line-by line exploration of the novel, it's rich, rich, rich and literary. It makes me think and wonder and glory in the use of the language. It's truly a step up from normal SF. The mystery is a sight more accomplished and interesting that most, and that's merely because the setting was so damn well fleshed out. :)
Still, I have to wonder if the incidentals and the world-building might have been just a tad too strong in its flavors and it drowned out the taste of Vic's story. I mean, not to spoil anything here, he stops being a travel agent, and that's probably a good thing since everybody and their fat dog either wants to betray him or just went ahead and did it, and it's really not safe back at home, anyway. When it comes to themes, it's fine, it's good, and it's right, but I wonder if the plot might have been served better by something a bit more SATISFYING and MEATY, you know?
I complain. But I really ought to point out that the sheer weight of idea awesomeness in this series, so far, far outweighs six out of seven SF novels on the market. I complain about characters, while everything else happens to be freakily awesome. :) I just feel like it missed an opportunity. Or perhaps the intent wasn't quite that satisfying for me so it never would have won with me. *sigh*
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