RARA-AVIS: More HB/Noir SF (cont)

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 30 Nov 2003

Based on all the great recommendations, I ordered CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ and THE DEMOLISHED MAN, with all the other suggestions duly noted. Science fiction used to be what I read most. After I shifted to hardboiled and noir I found it hard to even slip in an occasional sci-fi. I think I've been away from it long enough to give it another go, especially with a hardboiled or noir flavor.

Was it Etienne who couldn't think of much sci-fi with a hardboiled flavor? I though Dick's DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? was definitely hardboiled. Not just violent, but tough, too. Noirish, also.

George R.R. Martin's entered into the mega-series battle with Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind with a fairly hardboiled/noir theme. The third in his series went mass market paperback a few months ago. STORM OF SWORDS or something like that. I read thousands of pages of Robert Jordan, and even a couple books beyond where I enjoyed it. I believe I was under some fantastical notion that the series must be nearing an end and it was worth seeing it through. Terry Goodkind's WIZARD'S FIRST RULE was a lot of fun, but a couple later I dropped him. I've read two of Martin's entries and I've sat at the bookstore reading into the third one. I'll pick it up soon. Martin definitely has a more hardboiled and noir atmosphere than Jordan and Goodkind.

Someone mentioned Frederick Pohl. I've always enjoyed his books. They're intelligent and thoughtful without sacrificing the entertainment factor. I'm trying to remember if he wrote PLAGUE OF PYTHONS. It's a short book about the development of headgear that allows a person to take over the thoughts of another person. This allows people to indulge in wicked sins without the physical dues. Those wearing the headgear settle finally develop a new game where one puts the person under control into a certain death situation, like jumping from a building or scuba diving in shark-infested waters and slicing an arm or leg. A group of people discover what is going on and fight to destroy the technology. The ending is wicked irony.

I second Joy's suggestion that January be hardboiled and noir sci-fi month. That gives me a month to get in the swing.


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