Monday, May 27, 2013

Red Planet Blues

Red Planet Blues
Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer’s twenty-second novel is somewhat of a departure from his more recent works. While his most popular sci-fi thrillers such as FlashForward (the basis for the 2009 ABC series) and the WWW trilogy tell near-future or present-day stories, his latest, Red Planet Blues, follows some of the genre’s more traditional conventions—the book is set on Mars, after all. But Sawyer doesn’t limit himself to one genre; Red Planet Blues also pays homage to classic noir crime novels, most notably Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

Set against the backdrop of the Great Martian Fossil Rush—a tip of the hat to the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s—the story follows the exploits of Alex Lomax, a private detective living in a domed city on future Mars. Very quickly, Lomax becomes involved in a series of investigations revolving around stolen identities, stolen fossils, murder…and naked ladies. And then there are the transfers: wealthy individuals who’ve had their minds uploaded to immortal android bodies. In other words, this is a compelling fusion of classic sci-fi and detective mystery fiction.

Although Red Planet Blues doesn’t explore the “Big Ideas” as fully as Sawyer’s previous works, there’s still no denying that this latest novel is a heck of a lot of fun.

- Z. S. Roe

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