RARA-AVIS: K.W. Jeter, Kim Newman

From: chrisaschneider@earthlink.net
Date: 09 Sep 2003

-------Original Message------- From: Mark Sullivan < DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net> Sent: 08/28/03 05:06 PM To: rara-avis@icomm.ca Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Themes of the Months
> Chris, you mentioned Jeter's "Noir." How is that? I liked the few novels I have read by him, especially Farewell Horizontal. And I once read that Jeter described his In the Land of the Dead as, "Jim Thompson mates with corpses in John Steinbeck's bed." Given that description, I have no idea why I've never read it. Is it accurate?
Related to the sci-fi/noir fusion, what's Kim Newman's Night City like?


First of all, Mark, my apologies for not responding sooner.
"Noir" I own, but I've yet to read it and my copy has become inaccessible. (Don't ask.) But it looks very promising. It would seem to be violent escapades in a landscape not dissimilar to the Scott/Peoples "Blade Runner" movie, with detectives and criminals and characters with names like McNihil.
(Note to those unfamiliar with Jeter: He was a friend of Philip K. Dick's in Dick's latter years, and after PKD's death he was hired to write follow-up "Blade Runner" novels.)
I hae read "In The Land of the Dead," which I liked. The Jeter quote strikes me more as self-publicizing than anything else. Someone else has described the book as "Albert Camus Meets Stephen King." Me, I think of it more as "James M. Cain In Zombie-Land."
"Land of the Dead" is more horror than not, and what it does is place the "Postman" set-up into the realm or horror fiction. In other words: Unemployed male prole in '30s California becomes involved with bad-news woman who's married, a woman whose husband (a farm-owner) hires/exploits/etc migrant workers. And then questions of murder and resuscitating corpses enter the picture ...
I would recommend it. "Wolf Flow," which I haven't read, also sounds promising (gangsters throwing near-corpses out of cars, ghastly revenge, etc.)
Does your alluding to "Farewell, Horizontal" mean that you've already read Jeter's "Dr. Adder"? If not, you should make a point of it. Very much in the same style -- i.e. more SF-like that either "Land of Dead" or "Wolf Flow" -- only stromger and more memorable.
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As for "Night Mayor," I slapped my head and exclaimed "Why did I forget about that one?" when I read your note. I've read the Newman, it's a lot of fun, and it's definitely to be recommended.
"Night Mayor" is a little bit like one of those "Kirk and Spock enter the world of Old-Time Movies" episodes of "Star Trek," only ... this time a character enters a city defined by and populated with characters from '40s *film noir*.
Newman has written other books that are more ambitious (the "Anno Dracula" series, f'rinstance). Still, this one works very nicely and, for those who recognize the allusions, can be a hoot-and-a-half.
There's a comic novella where Chandler-ish themes meet Lovecraftian ones which can be recommended. "The Big Fish" is, I believe, its title. (N.B.: There's another comic riff on Lovecraftian themes which *doesn't* involve Chandleriana -- a short story entitled ?"A Quarter To Three"? Both are fine, but it's the longer one you want to seek out.)
In addition to all this, there's a novella called "The Other Side of Midnight" which has been linked with the name Ellroy. Sounds good to me ...

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