EDGE by John Meaney writing as Thomas Blackthorne
What I'm trying to work out is how dynamic history is in novels. This is one of those things that sounds really straightforward and is anything but. It will probably take me two years to work out, but I need to formulate the problem clearly this week. Focussing on someone else's work helps me nut away at the problem and then the words appear just like magic. Except it isn't magic, it's a lot of work. Committee meetings and conferences are also good ways of solving problems, I've found. Enough blathering, onto the book.
Angry Robot have a thing for near-future damaged societies. Zoo City was one of these books. Edge by Thomas Blackthorne is another. Fortunately Angry Robot select their writers of near-future damaged societies rather well. So far, all of them deliver. This includes the writer of Edge.
A very British opening. Could almost be Graham Joyce, sliding between sharp imagery and bad language in a particular way that only British writers seem to manage. Or is it that I only notice it when British writers do this? I wonder if it's because Australian language is also there, in similar texts and is very close but not quite the same, if our dialects are just different enough for the style to hit me. Or maybe it's a peculiarity of a particular type of British writer. Anyhow, none of this is relevant and the feeling of the language faded within a few pages in any case, as I became more used to the writer's style. Blackthorne (aka John Meaney) has one of those styles that's striking initially but that fades into the background and let's the story take over.
Doesn't have the magic of Beukes' work. It's still a good read, with good pacing and some very cool ideas. Very visual. Violent. Occasionally Blackthorne overexplains and makes scenes that should be gentle somewhat technical, but that mostly fits the characterisation so it's not a big issue. There are some wonderful new technologies and some rather scary ones.
I like his updated pop culture. I would, because it includes a production of Nine Princes in Amber. The wider culture is really for geeks, but it does geek charmingly. The book is geek high adventure, with added martial arts. I kept wanting to introduce Blackthorne/Meaney to Alan Baxter (whose books have been taken by Gryphon, if you want more adventure with martial arts, though his are of the dark fantasy kind).
There are two parts to the story, with the link between them being the two protagonists Josh Cumberland and Suzanne Duquesne. The first part is about a lost and endangered teenager and the second to do with the consequences of finding him. The character arc for the two protagonists is good (male in focus, though, which fits the kind of novel) and so the underlying connections ought to be strong, but I still felt a bit disjointed. The teenager was so much out of everything after a certain point and I had thought he was the character everything revolve around.
Still, it's a good adventure yarn with some fun ideas, a few of them firmly rooted in modern British politics.