'2040. New York is crowded with the lost. Refugees from the radioactive eastern seaboard, the splintered remains of a society in freefall, walk the streets and spend their last dollars on an hour snatched in one of the new Virtual Reality paradises.In a society bent on escape, Missing Persons is a good business to be in. If nothing else it keeps Hal Halliday busy enough to avoid his past.But the past is not so easy to escape.NEW YORK NIGHTS is a fast moving yet thought-provoking SF thriller. It examines the human costs of isolation and escapism in a future that offers wild possibilities.'Blurb from the 2001 Gollancz paperback editionThis, the first novel in the Virex trilogy introduces Hal Halliday - an affable New York ex-cop turned private eye of the mid Twenty-First Century – and his older partner Barney.The duo run a semi-successful business chasing missing persons and assisting the local PD with cold cases.Hal is intrigues by the case of Sissy Nigeria, reported missing by her lesbian lover. It’s a seemingly simple case but one which becomes more complex when Hal is attacked by a shape-shifter in the missing woman’s flat.Sissy’s home computer system has been burnt out and Hal later discovers that her research work for Cybertech involved the creation of machine intelligence.Despite a lack of complexity and some coincidences which stretch credulity, Brown has created a compelling an highly readable novel which races along like a cyborg greyhound.The most intriguing aspect is perhaps Brown’s depiction of a Lesbian Separatist community of which his estranged sister is a member. He manages to avoid cliched stereotypes without being preciously politically correct, and sets the stage for the next two books in the series. Indeed the whole novel has the feel of the TV pilot which sets up the relationships between the major characters and sets them in context before moving on to the meat and potatoes of the narrative.Brown doesn’t go far enough to explore the potentialities of VR, although there are some truly innovative moments, such as the interactive holosoap. One can log in to a virtual city, adopt a character and literally become one of the three million stories in the Naked City, which run perpetually.‘New York Nights’ is that rare thing in SF of the period, a novel which is too short. One expects the detective to be wrong-footed by red herrings and following various nebulous leads. This is what detectives do. If one compares this to Morgan’s ‘Altered Carbon’ – a novel of similar style but superior quality – one immediately notes the differences. Morgan’s novel is full of character and location detail, layered over a zig-zagging plotline. Brown lacks the detail and therefore this novel, although workmanlike, lacks atmosphere.Barbara
The setting was interesting. Far enough into the future that things were noticeably different but not so far that it wasn't possible to see how we might end up there. The plot was less so. It was was mostly straightforward. Most people were what they seemed to be.The main character, Hal, was a classic Everyman. Not particularly articulate, but no more tongue-tied with the people in his life than many of us are. About as likely as the average person to freeze in a crisis. Also, he found it about as difficult to wrap his mind around the new and the (very) strange as the average person. Basically an average bloke. Unfortunately, that means I found him rather dull. I'm average. I like my protagonists to be special in some way (good, bad, smart or just plain weird).I didn't get why it was so important that the couple that are the heart of the missing person case that starts the story are lesbians. The fact they were lesbians was commented on a lot but was irrelevant to the plot. The story would have worked just the same if they'd been a gay male couple or a straight couple. Perhaps the fact they lived openly as a couple was to show the difference between the future portrayed in the story and now, but the frequent comments about the lesbian community seem out of place for that. For me the fact they were lesbians was rather like Chekov's gun that never got fired. On this theme I prefer the books of Melissa Scott as I think she does a much better job of showing a future where sexual orientation is not the issue it is now. In her books couples (or other groupings) just are. The gender mix of the individuals only gets mentioned if it is relevant to the plot. Or, for that matter, the books of Tanith Lee, whose characters are (in the words of someone on Usenet) ambisexual.Andres
Primer libro en que aplico mi mueva política. Leo hasta la página 50 aprox, si no me gusta se cierra y bye. No time for bad reading. Too many pendings.Este no tenía gusto a nada.Kaz
Great read. Looking forward to the next two in the Virex series.