Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer - July 23, 2013

Red Planet Blues
Author:  Robert J. Sawyer
Publisher:  Ace Hardcover, March 26, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $25.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425256824 (print)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

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 forty 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...

*The Globe and Mail

Trinitytwo’s point of view:

New Klondike, a domed frontier town reminiscent of the old west, was built on Mars after two explorers discover the first Martian fossils and bring them back to Earth. As actual evidence of extra-terrestrial life, these fossils are the ultimate status symbol, making them the most valuable treasure in the universe. “The Great Martian Fossil Rush” ensues, but good specimens are a rarity. The “Alpha Deposit” or mother lode is still out there but the secret of its location has died with the two original fossil hunters, Weingarten and O’Reilly. Or has it? Enter Alex Lomax, Private Eye. Things are slow until a client comes in with a missing persons case. While searching for clues, a paleontologist hires Lomax because he is suspicious of NewYou, a company that “transfers” biological minds into virtually immortal bodies for a hefty sum. Add another client with ties to the original explorers, and the private eye finds his dance card full. Lomax knows there is a common thread but between dodging bullets and escaping hit men, he just hopes he can solve the mysteries and collect his fees without getting killed in the process.

SciFi noir at its best! I knew I was onto something epic when Star Wars was referenced in the first few pages. Alex Lomax is a futuristic gumshoe with an endearing penchant for old movies, topless barmaids, (one in particular who has caught his eye and a tiny piece of his heart), and snappy comebacks. He is as funny as he is fearless. Red Planet Blues started out almost ten years ago as a prize winning novella called “Identity Theft." I am so excited that Robert J. Sawyer decided to give Private Eye, Alex Lomax a second chance in the lime light! This book is such a superb romp on the red planet that I reread it for this review with the excuse that I needed to check facts. The truth of the matter is that I may have fallen slightly in love with Lomax. His self-deprecating humor amid murder attempts and mayhem have completely won me over. If possible, I’d hop the next spaceship and journey to Mars just so I could hang out with Lomax and have a few drinks, cognizant of the fact that I’d be buying. Sawyer’s delightful combination of action and humor make this suspenseful tale of crime on Mars one of my top reads this year.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I pre-ordered this book a while back because a hybrid combination of a two of my favorite type of tales; hard-boiled PI and interplanetary science fiction was irresistible. Somehow I haven't got around to reading it yet but I am moving it way up my to be read pile.