Monday, 26 August 2013

Review: Marlowe and the Spacewoman, by Ian M. Dudley

This was the Book of the Month at the Indie Book Club on Goodreads (in the Other category).

Marlowe and the Spacewoman is a comedy sci-fi, set in the middling future (perhaps a century or so away). Technology has progressed, but not to an unfathomable extent. Marlowe, the protagonist, is a private detective and the clone/brother of the city’s Governor (who is practically a dictator). Fuelled by mutual loathing of a third party, the chief of police, Marlowe is hired by the Governor to ascertain whether a woman whose arrival destroyed the Brussels sprout crop is indeed from space.

Marlowe has his own troubles to deal with, not least a successful assassination attempt, but has no choice but to take the job.

The world is quite interesting, as technology has progressed in most spheres, but corruption’s also increased and civil rights have declined dramatically. In addition, many objects in the world have at least limited sentience, which works very well (reminds me a bit of Red Dwarf’s scutters or the DRDs in Farscape).

Marlowe is front and centre of the book, although once he meets Nina (the Spacewoman) the book becomes more of a double act. Fortunately, Marlowe’s a likeable, well-written character, and he and Nina make a great team. She’s (ironically) very down to earth and physically capable, having lived for a long time in high gravity, and he’s got an intimate knowledge of the murky realpolitik of the world.

The comedy works well, the writing style’s easy to read, and the world is well-realised.

Downsides are pretty hard to think of, to be honest… Occasionally there’s a bit too much chatter about technical stuff, but that’s about it.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is after a sci-fi comedy, and thoroughly enjoyed it.


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