Science Fiction Book Review

Zootsuit Black

(2006) Jon George, Tor, 10.99, pbk, 324pp, ISBN 1-4050-3398-3

Scott Anderson is in the final running to win a web-tv based reality show and intends to use his celebrity to fight against a resurgent Nazi-ism and the charismatic leader of that movement, Pascal Toluene. Dr.Jake Crux is experimenting with mice to see if he can prove that telepathy exists. The former finds himself slipping in time and being faced with multiple opportunities to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich while the latter is transported to fantasy realms where he must fight and, he is convinced, defeat a number of alternate dragons (each based on a different myth). And around the world people are simply disappearing, along with most people's memory of their existence (though, strangely, some artifacts of their 'reality' survive their loss). It seems that in seven days there will be a drastic change in the continuum unless Anderson and Crux can figure out what is going on and how to survive it. Is this a part of human evolution, and could Crux's research hold the key to survival...?

This is a very enjoyable romp through an improbable near future with sympathetic and likeable characters, some fine invention, some serious contemplation and more than a little humour. Which is not to say that the book doesn't have its weaknesses (you never do find out why the continuum adjustment is taking place, for instance), but they are outweighed by the pleasure of the prose and the enjoyment in the characters. The backdrop is pretty convincing and grounded in current technological and sociological trends, sufficiently believeable to cover the reader's suspension of disbelief during the wilder parts. It's also worth mentioning that the cover illustration, by Dominic Harman, is also very good and evocative. Recommended.

Tony Chester

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