Robert J. Sawyer, the author of such "revelatory and thought-provoking" novels as Triggers and The WWW Trilogy, presents a noir mystery expanded from his Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella "Identity Theft” and his Aurora Award-winning short story “Biding Time”, and set on a lawless Mars in a future where everything is cheap, and life is even cheaper....
Alex Lomax is the one and only private eye working the mean streets of New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that sprang up 40 years ago after Simon Weingarten and Denny O’Reilly discovered fossils on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, where anything can be synthesized, the remains of alien life are the most valuable of all collectibles, so shiploads of desperate treasure hunters stampeded to Mars in the Great Martian Fossil Rush.
Trying to make an honest buck in a dishonest world, Lomax tracks down killers and kidnappers among the failed prospectors, corrupt cops, and a growing population of transfers - lucky stiffs who, after striking paleontological gold, upload their minds into immortal android bodies. But when he uncovers clues to solving the decades-old murders of Weingarten and O’Reilly, along with a journal that may lead to their legendary mother lode of Martian fossils, God only knows what he’ll dig up....
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Why bother even putting this story on Mars?
No. This book takes place in a time when we are past being able to colonize Mars YET the much of the basic technology is what we use today - keyboards, ipad things, physical coin currency and of all things a bullet shooting Smith & Wesson. Maybe I have been massively spoilt by other Sci-Fi writers (Kristine Kathryn Rusch for example) who first of all would not have a Smith & Wesson this sort of weapon in a dome/biosphere because of the damage it could possibly do to the overall micro environment. Or how about cost of producing the bullets - is this done on Mars? Or are the shipped from Earth and If so, wouldn't that make them thousands of dollars a bullet? I don't know, it's never explained the author just moves on. At one point the protagonist is watching a dust storm, but where is it? Inside the dome? if so, why and how would such a storm be produced. If it is outside the dome, well how is he seeing it? does his office have a window that looks outside the dome? and if so why isn't that window as dirty and run down as the rest of the dome supposedly is. My point is there are so many loose and ridiculous loose ends when it comes to the world building and science end of this story that the author would have been far better off just to leave it on earth and make it a little bit in the future. As this story stands, it was frustrating and disappointing. I think there is loads of potential, but the lazy lack of imagination in the details has just left me cold.
He was ok with what he had to work with. I mean supposedly this is a very old Mars colony and yet the characters are described as having accents like a distinctive "Scottish brogue" or Latin for example. I mean after all that time wouldn’t they have their own accents, slang, patois, or subtle ways of non verbal communication??? (again spoilt by authors like James S. A. Corey)
Noooooooooo. For me it was not.
I love to be immersed in a world and I do not strictly read Sci-Fi. I am not a purist by any means. I can forgive allot if you can keep my attention, you are clever or can 'wow' me with interesting concepts and fresh ideas. But this book. Uhg. It was as if the author took a giant fluffy ice cream scoop of a bit of low fat, sugar free Raymond Chandler and flung it at Mars, stood back and said "Look I made a Noir/Sci-Fi!!!" NO. If you are looking for something that is Noir/Sci-Fi I would recommend reading "Noir" by K. W. Jeter - and I hope very much that book will be on Audible some day.
Gumshoe on Mars
- Craig "I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener."