Fiction Reviews


Noir

(1999) K. W. Jeter, Millenium, 6.99, pbk, 388pp, ISBN 1-85798-596-6

DynaZauber Corp. has a dead exec called Travelt. The CEO, Harrisch, calls in asp-head McNihil to find out what happened, and locate Travelt's prowler, which seems to have disappeared into the Wedge. McNihil's eyes have a corneal overlay which reinterprets the world into a black and white approximation of a detective movie, and allows him to see things no one else can in this world where the dead are kept reanimated until they've cleared their debts, and everybody is motivated to create the highest profit margins.

As may already be apparent, a certain familiarity with Jeter's earlier work is a distinct advantage in reading this book, though not a necessity. Personally I would recommend Dr. Adder as a good place to start.

As the title implies, this is something of a bleak book, featuring betrayals, hidden motivations, unlikely alliances, and good old gumshoe work. The nastiness is unrelenting in this dystopian world, and trust is the hardest thing to come by. Part two of the book deals with copyright violation, about which Jeter has some unique ideas as regards 'intellectual property', which mirrors fears of copyright infringement on the Net, much seen on the news of late. Apparently he'd posted an essay to the Europa web-site, but when I went looking for it, it wasn't there.

I'd recommend the book to lovers of Chandler and Hammett, and those already familiar with Jeter's work, but others might find this treat a little tough going.

Tony Chester


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