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Noir 53

Reader bughunter contributed the review below of K.W. Jeter's Noir, which sounds like a good book to not read aloud to your small children, but otherwise intriguing: Dark, twisty speculation in the same vein as William Gibson and other pioneers.

author K. W. Jeter
pages 496
publisher Bantam Spectra
rating 8
reviewer bughunter
ISBN 0553576380
summary A dark-as-its-name novel in the tradition of cyberpunk but with even more cynical twists.

Mixing metaphors like cheap liquors, K. W. Jeter manages to meld an unlikely combination of fiction elements with the surprisingly palatable success of a Long Island Iced Tea. Add to that an almost gleefully cynical look at the future of copyright law, unrestrained capitalism, and the rocky bottom of our credit-driven economy's slippery slope. With a sometimes disorienting stream-of-consciousness style, stringing together metaphors like a psychedelic chain of pearls, Jeter introduces his audience to one brilliantly disturbing and fascinating concept after another, and in the end Jeter uses every one of them to wrap up the conflict. It's a nonstop freak show, a simultaneous dirty joke, horror tale, and social commentary. It's especially rewarding, coming from the author of the bestselling sequels to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human and Blade Runner: Replicant Night.

On one level, Noir feels like cyberpunk: it is set in a postmodern dystopia recovering from collapse, populated by cybernetically enhanced misanthropes, with a plot that skirts the edge of a metaphorical landscape. But in this novel, there's no Cyberspace; just "The Wedge," a sexually deviant skid row ruled by a mysterious goddesslike figure. Those who dare can visit The Wedge in the flesh, but most visitors to the Wedge employ replicant avatars, "prowlers," which download their Wedge experiences to their owners, delivering accumulated memories served straight.

This brings me to a warning; Noir is not for the weak of stomach. Jeter wantonly and graphically sodomizes, decapitates, disembowels, dissolves and immolates his characters with intentional disregard for good taste, exploiting the same psychological niche as rotten.com, alt.tasteless and Hannibal. It has the attraction of a car wreck -- at first tolerable only in short doses, but ultimately irresistible. Part of this irresistibility is the intelligence, wit, and cynicism of Jeter's future vision.

Predictably enough, the protagonists are anti-heroes. But to Jeter's credit, their predictability ends there. John McNihil is an asp-head - a licensed bounty hunter of copyright violators, and a man who sold his wife into purgatory in favor of buying a set of optical implants that give him a film noir view of the world. Forget rose-colored glasses, he has smoke- and whiskey-colored contact lenses.

Self-employed heroine November is more likable, but a ruthless character nonetheless, with fingertip EMP implants that allow her to induce orgasmic epileptic fits in her stalkers-slash-victims, then casually ventilate their craniums with their own guns.

The story opens with the death of a mid-level corporate exec, Travelt. McNihil and November are hired by the antagonist, Harrisch, to track down his intellectual property lost in the Edge, somehow uploaded into Travelt's prowler. In contrast to the merely dislikable McNihil and November, Harrisch is revolting. He is the devious, manipulating and ruthless chief executive of DynaZauber, a megacorporation with interests in every aspect of society. Harrisch habitually murders his freelance operatives rather than paying them, and prefers to do the wetwork himself, rendered immune to prosecution by pre-emptory payoffs to local authorities, who themselves have been reduced to agents of corporate interest.

The first third of the story revolves around Harrisch's increasingly sadistic attempts to coerce McNihil into taking the job. November is Harrisch's insurance, the second-string operative, whom he also uses as a means to coerce McNihil. Be patient; Jeter uses these events to introduce concepts that foreshadow the climactic scene. And even after McNihil and November being their hunt for Travelt's lost prowler, we continue to be exposed to essential concepts that at the time appear to be mere gratuitous depravity and cynicism.

These ideas are what make Noir worthy of a Slashdot review, and I shall attempt to relate some of them without spoiling the plot, but in doing so, I cannot reproduce their sledgehammer impact on the story:

  • The elevation of intellectual property to the ultimate standard of value.
  • Violation of copyright becomes punishable by death, and later by the imprisonment of the violator's seat of intellect within "trophies" - such as toasters and audio equipment - delivered to the copyright holder.
  • The rights of debt holders become supreme, outlasting even the death of the debtor. Those who die in debt are reanimated until they work off their debt, if they can.
  • Corporate management philosophy becomes modelled after that of the street pimp; psychological destitution of the employee is embraced as the optimal strategy for human resource management.
  • In the ultimate victory of marketing over content, TIAC, or Turd In A Can, becomes the overt ideal of capitalism: use marketing and packaging to sell the customer as little value as possible, for the maximum price.
And with many brilliantly unpredictable plot twists, these devices and many, many more are used to escalate and then resolve the story's conflict in a feat of literary genius. Just admitting that much to a potential reader is a spoiler -- Jeter pulls off what seems to be impossible, but foreknowledge of this feat also allows one to appreciate Jeter's skill on the first read, rather than only in retrospect. Noir is perhaps the only novel that can be simultaneously compared with Brave New World , The Name of the Rose, The Diamond Age, and Hannibal. It shines darkly like polished obsidian, complete with a razor edge.

You can purhase this book at Fatbrain.

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  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by abischof ( 255 ) <alex.spamcop@net> on Friday April 13, 2001 @08:47AM (#293987) Homepage
    For similar such quotes, you may wish to check out the Bulwer Lytton contest [bulwer-lytton.com]. This contest -- to write the most hideous opening line to a hypothetical novel -- is named in honor of Lytton, as he was the fellow to write the legendarily bad opening "It was a dark and stormy night...".

    Some examples of past winners [bulwer-lytton.com]:
    • The corpse exuded the irresistible aroma of a piquant, ancho chili glaze enticingly enhanced with a hint of fresh cilantro as it lay before him, coyly garnished by a garland of variegated radicchio and caramelized onions, and impishly drizzled with glistening rivulets of vintage balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic oil; yes, as he surveyed the body of the slain food critic slumped on the floor of the cozy, but nearly empty, bistro, a quick inventory of his senses told corpulent Inspector Moreau that this was, in all likelihood, an inside job.
      --Bob Perry, Milton, MA (1998 Winner)
    • The moment he laid eyes on the lifeless body of the nude socialite sprawled across the bathroom floor, Detective Leary knew she had committed suicide by grasping the cap on the tamper-proof bottle, pushing down and twisting while she kept her thumb firmly pressed against the spot the arrow pointed to, until she hit the exact spot where the tab clicks into place, allowing her to remove the cap and swallow the entire contents of the bottle, thus ending her life.
      -- Artie Kalemeris, Fairfax, VA (1997 Winner)
    • As the fading light of a dying day filtered through the window blinds, Roger stood over his victim with a smoking .45, surprised at the serenity that filled him after pumping six slugs into the bloodless tyrant that mocked him day after day, and then he shuffled out of the office with one last look back at the shattered computer terminal lying there like a silicon armadillo left to rot on the information superhighway.
      --Larry Brill, Austin, Texas (1994 Winner)
    It seems that "Noir" would be a shoo-in, if it weren't a real book!

    Alex Bischoff
  • This book is a Satire of the current day intellectual property trends. Violating copyright is a capital offence.

    The main charactor McNihil, has an interesting name...Mc is a Gaelic construct that means "son of", and Nihil...nihilist, son of a nihilist...also, from Webster's Revised Unabridged

    -Nihil album (L., white nothing) (Chem.), oxide of zinc. See under (Zinc).

    -Nihil debet (L., he owes nothing) (Law), the general issue in certain actions of debt.

    -Nihil dicit (L., he says nothing) (Law), a declinature by the defendant to plead or answer.

    Any of these can apply to our friend Mr. McNihil.

    I am sure that if we took the time, we would find many other interesting things about all of the charactors names under similar analysis.

    And I would disagree that there is no "cyberspace"...you see, the prowlers are essentially bio-robots that you can be linked
    to, and vicariously do things, without catching a disease, or a tatoo. An interesting concept...tatoos that travel like a virus,
    or chain letter. But the prowlers are the closest thing to cyberspace, since in this universe where copyright violation is a capital crime, what do you think they would do to hackers? You
    can't have a consentual reality for VR, since you really can't share intellectual property. Thus you have ways to do it vicariosly...and since you own the prowler, what you do is your own IP.

    Another name, "asp-head" comes from ASCAP, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. These are the people that
    collect royalties and pay them to the people who own the copyrights.

    An error, he did not sell is wife to get his "Noir" eyes, he couldn't afford to pay off her debts to allow her to "die" peacefully, because he had his eyes modified (among other things, you laterfind out) You see, in this universe, if you die owning money, your creditors revive you, and sell off your body parts to pay off your debts. You can't escape debt by death.

    There is also the reference to BDSM culture..."A bottom always want's to be topped", that is a submissive always find someone to dominate them. And that is how corperate people manage and
    sell products. They call it "Pimp Style" management.

    There is reference some of his other books, like Dr. Adder. Hence the Dr. Adder clomes (clome being another reference to an earlier work). I haven't read his other books in a long time, but this could be set in the same cyberpunk universe a few of his books are, which are excellent cyberpunk. I guess that is why he was chosen to do the "Bladerunner" books. I also like the fact that he used us Erisians as characators in some of his
    early cyberpunk books.

    I am a tad bit annoyed, since I was in the middle of re-reading the book to submit a Slashdot Review. :-(

    Hail Eris!
  • I've read the first of Jeter's Blade Runner sequels and although it had some good ideas, it was rather poorly written. In fact, I've read fanfic which was better executed. Has he improved?
  • It's not very well-written. The prose is dense, only not in a way that I would call compelling (like, say, Vinge or Wolfe). It meanders, it poorly visualizes many aspects of the world (crucial in sci-fi, since you're dealing with things that often are way outside the norm), its got long, boring gaps. Its just not... tight, I guess, for lack of a better word. Cohesive, maybe, is better. Like someone you know who's really smart and inventive, but can't explain how to make a baloney sandwitch without telling you what they did last night, that time they took a road trip to Ontairio...
  • Yeah, Farrell, I know, but I couldn't include everything... I felt the review was getting too long, anyway.

    At least there's someone else here that can enjoy fiction that's not written at a 9th-grade level. You appear to be a fan of Wilson and Shea's novels -- I expect that if "Illuminatus!" was published today, and reviewed here, the same pack of hyenas would dismiss it as "tripe" for it's "dense" style of prose and obtuse plot.

    I wouldn't have bothered to post a review here if it wasn't for Jeter's "joke" about where the current trends in IP/copyrights are taking us. But scarce few others even commented on it, and none of them recieved any mod points.

    Despite the badmouthing Jeter's obtuse writing style received in this forum, it's one that has been used by many widely acclaimed authors, from Faulkner to Joyce, Hemingway to Pohl. I feel sorry for those whose capacity to enjoy literature is limited to high school grammatically correct prose.

  • Hey, pick me up some Fastah's at the packy. I wanna get wicked buzzed on Sat!


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • What about "Crash?"


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • by GoNINzo ( 32266 ) <GoNINzo AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday April 13, 2001 @07:52AM (#293994) Journal
    I'm a big fan of Cyberpunk and Blade Runner. I had read his previous book, Blade Runner 2, but I had trouble getting into it except for my great interest in the characters. by having a pre-defined interest in the characters themselves, I forced myself to keep going. However, when I picked up Noir like 6 months ago, I expected something I could get into.

    I've tried 3 times, and couldn't get past the first 20 pages before I got tired of it. and I rarely put books down! I found it MORE interesting to re-read the lord of the rings triology. that's a bad sign when you'd rather re-read a book rather than read the brand new book you just got.

    Anyway, I'll most likely give it another shot, but only when all the other books in my house are on holiday or something. Just hope it gets better than the first 20 pages.

    Gonzo Granzeau

  • A Harlan Ellison (sp?) classic, actually. An excellent read, IMO, though it only takes a little while to get through (few hours if you are a normal reader)...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • I for one am glad about Jeter's comeback. This guy wrote some of the most brilliant and offbeat SF ever before he did those awful bladerunner and star wars books (for monetary reasons I suppose. How much do you get paid for one of these anyway?).

    Do yourself a favor and read "Farewell Horizontal" from '89. There might be books out there that are better constructed (Vernor Vinge, Gibson), but this novel has the most cool scenes and ideas I've ever seen in a scifi. Unfortunately it's out of print.

  • The rights of debt holders become supreme, outlasting even the death of the debtor. Those who die in debt are reanimated until they work off their debt, if they can.
    In that one concept, a dozen good stories are waiting to be written. Think along the lines of Ellison's 'I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream'. Even though I have a reading list that's too long already, I may just have to add this one in. Sigh...
  • It's a short story. It will take you less than an hour to read. It is definitely worth reading. One of the 'must-reads' of sci-fi. It's short, to the point, and stays with you forever. (At least it has for me.)

    Hard to say whether you'd like it, though. It would be a good one to start on, if it's your first Ellison. Also recommended are his 'Dangerous Visions' anthologies. I've got a shelf-full of his stuff.

    A few years ago, (quite a few, now) someone tried to publish something with the same name (in Britain). You can copyright the work, but you can't copyright a title. Harlan took them to court and the courts told them they couldn't use his title. It's that important. At least the Brits feel that way. Love them for that. :)

    Hah! Found it online. http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_ archive/ellison/ellison1.html [scifi.com] It's not long at all. Still affects me the same way, though. Lucky you are, for the first time experience. Can't wait for Alzheimer's. ;} (That's a joke, everyone! Settle down. My grandmother had it. Not fun.)
  • Huh? It certainly sounds to me like a rant against the fact that copyright protection is getting TOO STRONG. Hello, do you really think he's serious about suggesting that death is a fitting punishment for copyright infringement?

    That's what I would have though, too. But how about taking a look at the links section on his website [europa.com] and then taking a guess at which side of the issue he comes down on?

    It leaves you with a weird impression; on the one hand, you can't believe he's really serious about the scene in which a script-kiddie type is vivisected for providing the hero (acting as an undercover cop) with a key which he claims will provide access to an off-shore internet archive of copyrighted material. On the other hand, given the author's apparent views, you can't help but imagine that you're supposed to take a certain sadistic pleasure in the scene, even if it's just a joke. Since the author doesn't (as far as I can tell) ever present any middle ground, you're left with nothing to go on.

    I read the book hoping I'd find some interesting thoughts on copyright issues, and was disappointed. (I was also disappointed by the prose which, as the original poster pointed out, can be tiresome.)

    The copy I read actually had a URL in the back that claimed to point to an essay on his views on copryight, but the URL was bad; has anyone actually read that essay?

    --Bruce Fields

  • The "detective noir" style that Jeter incorporates into "Noir" is traditionally laden with violent similes and metaphors.... <snip>....This is a style choice, not bad writing. Check out any Mickey Spillane novel and compare it to "Noir".

    I'm not familiar with Mickey Spillane. The author that came to my mind was Raymond Chandler, who also does this sort of thing. Compare an excerpt from Noir:

    He had turned from the window where he had stood waiting, turned upon the sense and smell of its arrival -- no sound, it walked so softly, silent as that other world -- and had seen the smear of blood on its brow, Cain-marked and Lilith-born, the great wisdom of indulgence in its idiot eyes. That had scanned and judged him, like the lenses of the watching security cameras at every corner of every building. First from across the room, as he had felt the first tremors of fear move out from his gut, then inches away, then less than that as it had stood right in front of him. The other's eyes had been round dark mirrors in which he had seen himself, perhaps more clearly than ever before.

    ...with an excerpt from Chandler's "The Long Goodbye":

    "I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don't like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I'm a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, and to plenty of people in any business or no business at all these days, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life."

    Both of them have digressions, but some side trips are worth more than others....

    --Bruce Fields

  • Some people will regard some of the following as spoilers for those who have not read the book. Be advised. By the time I got through the book I was basically just disappointed. There were at least a couple of bits with potential, but so little seemed to be done with them. As if I have any right to complain; being a good story-teller is hard, and I can't do it. Two specifics:

    • Real-time visual overlays of the world. Done as external hardware rather than implants (eg, the visors and contact lenses in The California Voodoo Game), these could potentially be cheap enough to be widespread. What happens when everyone sees the world through such an overlay? How does a detective function when all of the eyewitnesses saw something different?
    • Small technology gone amuck, as in the little flying devices that attack aircraft (and apparently reproduce, since they don't run out of them). We already have problems coping with regular insects; how might we deal with smart mechanical beasties whose programming contained inadvertant errors? What might bugs designed to clean indoor floors do when they got outside and tried to clean there? I suppose you have to assume that they're smart enough to steal power as well as reproduce...
  • I'd forgotten about Bulwer-Lytton. That's exactly how this book reads, except, horror of horrors, it goes on for nearly 500 pages!

    Is there a requirement that entries cannot be real books? If not, I would seriously consider nominating this one.


  • by Ledge Kindred ( 82988 ) on Friday April 13, 2001 @07:59AM (#294003)
    I slogged through this piece of trash hoping it would get better, but it never did. The title Noir is particulary appropriate as, if any book could get the classification of "bad, barely b-grade film noir style" this would be the one. Stuff like (I'm making this up)

    "She slouched slowly through the smoky door, her feet making short little scraping sounds that reminded me of cats fighting on a hot sultry summer evening when you sit outside with the girl you met after class but never got to know her name because you just wanted to get in her pants...."

    etc etc etc... The sheer amount of overly descriptive turn of phrase completely overwhelms the actual point the author is trying to get across, until you're just reading strings upon strings of adjectives and descriptives with the narration completely lost in the noise.

    To mis-quote a quote I can't remember the source, "Reading this book is like having your head pushed through a big bowl of slightly warm oatmeal."

    Nonetheless, I kept trying to slog through, hoping I could get some hang of the story. Fortunately, the very very overdone prosaic style cleared up, slightly, but then it got much, much worse:

    This huge book (it's many many pages long) is nothing more than a thinly veiled rant against copyright infringement!!!

    Yep, instead of putting up a website ranting about people stealing copywritten work, like any normally insane ranting raving lunatic would do, this ranting raving lunatic wrote and got published a whole damn nearly 500 page long book!

    I was offended, to say the least, that I paid money for this.

    The only effect on me of having read this book is that I had the overwhelming urge to scan it in and (violating copyrights left and right) post it somewhere on the internet.

    But I held back because I couldn't bear the thought of intentially subjecting anyone else to the horror that was this book.


  • I have an intuition that bughunter's prosaic style mimics Jeter's. Given that, I had more than enough difficulty stomaching the review, let alone trying to dig through the novel in question!

    'Dark speculation' is one thing, but from the sounds of it, and from the comments already posted, this book sounds like:

    a) A load of tripe [m-w.com]
    b) A really poor attempt at winning the Bulwer-Lytton competition.
    c) A late and poorly executed April Fool's joke.
    d) A waste of good reading time.
    e) All of the above.

    I think I'll spend my book $$$ and reading time on something a little more interesting [slashdot.org] and culturally and historically significant.

  • by offline ( 94346 )

    Read it. Or at least about 10 pages of it :/ Hated it. Glad i only paid half-price for it in a secondhand bookstore (And not at all surprised to see it there, in hindsight.

    My god.. i honestly can't remember a worse read than this.


  • Do yourself a favor and don't read Dr. Adder. It's an extraordinarily poor novel which wasn't even fresh back in the 70's.

    The most embarassing thing about the book is the author's deliberately daring effort to include a character who is *gasp* a homosexual. The revelation of the character's sexual preference is presented in a manner that suggests that the author found this shocking, even repulsive. A contemporary reader will be left wondering what the point was.
  • I think you're missing the point. When Gibson wrote Neuromancer, he didn't know a thing about the inner workings of computers. He's admitted as much, and it's probably why he was able to write a book as mind-blowing as Neuromancer.

    Good cyberpunk isn't really about what's going to happen in ten years or twenty or fifty or whatever. It's about technological and social trends that are barely visible today, and how they impact human beings. By extrapolating these trends, good authors can make us think about what makes us human, what kind of society we live in, what kind of society we want to create for the future.

    Exaggeration is certainly a part of cyberpunk's core sensibility. But exaggeration can be very helpful in illuminating things. Remember Swift's "A Modest Proposal"? It's pure satire, grossly exaggerating the situation in Ireland at the time it was written, but it was very effective in pointing out the disparities between English landowners and Irish poor.

    The violence that you see in so many cyberpunk stories is an extrapolation of the violence that's endemic to American society. It's everywhere around us - on TV, in music, in films, in our schools, on our streets, in our prisons.

    As for technology, the merging of man and machine isn't currently as radical as you'd see in most cyberpunk stories, but think about this: prosthetic devices are gettting better and better every year, "bionic eyes" are moving closer to reality, genetic manipulation of human DNA is no longer fiction.

    By exaggerating current trends, good authors can cause us to look at our current situation and say, "well, it ain't that bad now, but let's look at where we really are headed." Unlike "hard" science fiction of the Asimov school, cyberpunk is less concerned with the "how" of technology than with the "why" of it.

  • Ha Ha Ha. Good one. ". I have read every classic SW book (none of this new Ep 1 shite)..." Like some SW books are classics and others are crap. Dude... Movie tie-in novels are the lowest form of literature. Lower than Bazooka Joe comix. As low as fanfic. See the setting and the characters are already there . And, of course, you can't just kill off Darth Vader or reveal that Luke and Princess Leia (I would check the spelling but who cares?) actually did the incestuous deed, so artistic freedom isn't even an option. Writers who "create" this crap are whores... Marketing flaks, not anyone to be taken seriously.
  • The quote you can't think of is from Dune, Feyd-Rautha thinking to himself about listening to Count Fenring's tedious talk (not knowing that the "um"s and "ah"s are a code he uses to talk to his wife).
  • His eyes returned to the screen, again and again, until he had read the entire quote, as painful as it was -- pain he imagined as worse than childbirth in the desert -- and he knew that he must not read this book.

    This isn't even a sentence:

    First from across the room, as he had felt the first tremors of fear move out from his gut, then inches away, then less than that as it had stood right in front of him.
  • Thank you for your polite and well reasoned reply. I appreciate the charm and tact with which you choose to disagree with me. Pleasant interactions like these make me proud to be a member of the Slashdot community. I look forward to enjoying more of your posts.


    Steve O.
  • Fair enough, and I agree that the Chandler excerpt is much better than the Jeter one. Chandler was a magnificent writer. I certainly wouldn't put Jeter in his class.

    I do think "Noir" is closer to the Spillane novels, though. Spillane was a rough and tumble writer whose books had lots of flaws, but were still admirable.

    I'll stand my statement that Jeter's choice was a style choice, and though the style he chose is not for everyone, it still has merit.

    Steve O.
  • I have to disagree with those comments calling "Noir" poorly written. The "detective noir" style that Jeter incorporates into "Noir" is traditionally laden with violent similes and metaphors - often mixed. This, combined with terse, first person narrative and a bleak physical setting creates an unsettling environment in which the confused and desolate inner landscape of the narrator can be seen reflected in the dark and dangerous world he inhabits. This is a style choice, not bad writing. Check out any Mickey Spillane novel and compare it to "Noir".

    I enjoyed "Noir" immensely, because it was a skilled mix of two of my favorite genres. It's fine if you don't enjoy the noir style, but don't mistake that dislike for poor writing by the author.

    Steve O.
  • I have noticed alot of people have tried but couldn't get into Noir. This does not surpirse me as Jeter is one of the worst authors I have read. A while back he wrote three Star Wars books. Most Star Wars books (even if they suck, like KJA's) I could at leist sit through and read. I have read every classic SW book (none of this new Ep 1 shite) except those 3. I couldn't get past the first 50 pages of Slave Ship and haven't even bothered to buy the other two because I know I can't read them either. I wouldn't trust anythng he writes if he can't even keep a big Star Wars nut into a Star Wars book. His writing style was interesting but the book as so dry I couldn't pay attention. I was able to struggle through Krysten Kathryn Rusche's The New Rebellion which was pretty bad, but at leist had a pace that was readable. Now on the other hand, the writers who wrote the origional SW books, Kathy Tyres and Timothy Zahn, and Mike Stackpole who wrote a mess of the newer ones, are very entertaining reads, and most of their non SW stuff is pretty good too, especially Zahn. This post is somewhat off topic, but it is on topic as it is a criticism of the author who wrote the book.
  • well-written review- if you're trying to impress your English teacher! Moderately useful, though I'm not likely to read something like this, especially as it sounds too ambitious to pull everything off in one book.
  • I've read neither author before, but after reading these extracts, I might well read one of them. Clue: it's not Jeter.

    Kind of a good example of fair use in action too. Thanks.
  • i would posit that violence is not endemic to our society, but rather that it is endemic to our culture -- books, movies, tv programming, music.

    modern sensational journalism has ruinously distorted our picture of the world, making us afraid of our own neighbors.

    this in turn stimulates the deterioration of community behaviors, which does promote people to feel helpless and lawless.

    i would like to rest the blame for this cycle of fear, uncertainty, and doubt squarely on the media that depend upon it for their job security.

    of course, we all eagerly consume those media...

  • > I can do anything I set my mind to!

    OK, I wanna see you set your mind to skiing
    through a revolving door.

    Chris Mattern
  • I read a section from Noir at Jeter's website, and it was among the worst tripe i've ever read! I don't expect much artistic taset from slashdot, but this is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    If that segment is any indication of the novel, it will read like cheap, sci-fi infused erotica, with too many similies that are poorly executed. If i want to read science fiction, I'll go back to the writers who knew how to do it right, Gibson, Heinlein and Bradbury.

    Disclaimer: I haven't read the entire book. If you want to give me an informed opinion, but it for me, because I'll never waste my money on that crap.

  • I read the entire review, it wasn't poorly written, but it fell into the same old 31337 trap. "If I like this book / person / thing that I anticipate will be cool, people will think I'm cool too!"

  • hey, i like the word tripe! try saying it out loud. its far more satifying a word than sucks or crap.
  • I've been reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels since last year, there's a still a few I have to pick up and quite a stack I have, but haven't read, yet. The Truth was reviewed here [slashdot.org]. While a fun read, there's some serious points made in the the story.

    I may take a break and pick up one of Jeter's works, maybe even this one.


  • by toe jam football ( 228979 ) on Friday April 13, 2001 @08:38AM (#294023) Homepage
    If you like Noir, you might also try Dr. Adder. Jeter wrote it in 1972 and it has a lot of the elements of cyberpunk but in a wierd twisted way. The story revolves around a guy named, you guessed it, Dr. Adder who gives his clients drugs to get at their deepest sub-concious fantasies. Then he modifies prostitutes (physically and genetically) to meet those clients desires. There are also wierd sub-plots that take place in the post-apocalyptic (now cliche, but at the time it wasn't) Los Angeles. There are roving groups of people who have random assasination parties, religious conservatives who control the media, wierd underground societies. Very strange but cool book that wouldn't have been published without the help of Philip K. Dick, who convinced the publisher to put it out despite the content. -toe jam
  • I really didn't like it much. Certainly not on par with Gibson or others of his stature....
  • by Proud Geek ( 260376 ) on Friday April 13, 2001 @08:09AM (#294025) Homepage Journal
    Since this article is a book review, personally, I'd consider discussions of the novel in question to be on topic. Secondary topics that I'd also consider to be completely on topic are discussions of other similar books, or discussions of issues raised in the book.

    The parent post to this one was a question on the cyberpunk genre, that this book is supposedly a close relation of. That seems on topic to me.

    Continuing the previous poster's point, I too find many such novels to be excessively violent, and to describe scenarios that are very far fetched, both technologically and socially. This is especially poignant since they are usually set in the near future, when it should be reasonable to expect a lot of continuity from today.

    If these books have made an accurate (I think it's more appealing than accurate; they seem more like macho fantasies to me) portrayal of hackers, they have also given up all semblance of accuracy on other characters. Unless the Internet is truly the next big revolutionary thing, and hackers really do assume god-like powers, the portrayals are more comic than relevant.

  • Yes, this is true. The shitty writing is completely seperate from the Noir style. Mickey Spillane didn't write his metaphors for his cat; he wrote them for a hip audience weaned on a terse print style. Jeter's amateur approach the the genre is an insult to decent futurable sci-fi and decent detective novels simultaneously, just as insulting as "Blade Runner 2" was to Phillip K. Dick, William Gibson, and anybody born since 1943 who had a modicum of talent or taste.

    But don't consider this a pan of Jeter's style. He's quite good if you like utter shit, and judging from the "Ender's Game" following around here, you do.
  • No, I do understand the words, but he could have said it with much less fluff. When it contains fluff, it usually means it's a truckload full of shit.
  • From the sound of things, it is an attempt at noir, but poorly written. For a good SF / Noir book, try Gun,With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. 4.5 stars with 29 reviews on Amazon, if you place any value in the reviews on Amazon.
  • I have begun to worry that intellectual property, corporations, and trade groups are stifling innovation, which has taken me full circle from being a big fan of Microsoft to a reluctant user looking for a way out. With the RIAA killing Napster or at least disemboweling it, AFTRA killing many radio recasts, and MS screwing MP3 formats on XP, the government increasingly siding with business and having an insane level of power for invading our privacy, it reallys makes me a little paranoid. But, even if you aren't paranoid, it doesn't mean they aren't after you.

    First day of CallieGirl's Dystopia [unholyrouter.com] online today at unholyrouter.com [unholyrouter.com]
  • I think I have 5 books I've bought in the last month that I haven't even cracked, and this one does sound interesting. I've heard of "I have no mouth..." is it worth reading?
  • Thanks! I'll check it out.
  • Anybody intrigued by this book will also want to
    chase down a copy of one of Jeter's earlier
    books, Doctor Adder. It's a good read.
  • Another Ellison classic that's a must read
    is 'Repent, Harlequin, Said the Tick-Tock Man.'

    In fact, why not take off a few hours and read it
    right now? It's legendary 'culture hacking'

  • Dr. Adder is way cool. It's the only book I know
    of that eroticizes multiple amputee hookers.
  • You're right. It's over-the-top.

    Just like 'Hiro Protagonist' was.
  • Are any of the characters in 'Crash' hookers?

    I've read the book, own the DVD. I don't recall any amputee hookers. Definitely an eroticization of injury and disfigurement, of course. Vaughn in his big black Lincon gunning the engine makes you want to go out and buy a guzzler.
  • Jetah is bettah than Nomah!!
    No, Nomah is bettah than Jetah!

    I'm sorry, thats all I could think of when I saw the authors name.

    btw, you probably won't get this unless you live between boston and new york.
  • is "John McNihil". Is Jeter serious? Are there characters named Senator William O'Politician and Joe Garbageman too? Does Skeletor make a guest appearance? If you are going to make ridiculous character names, then it has to fit the literature and be so overt that it doesn't make any attempt to be plausible. Or you can use names that have just a tinge of meaning to them, without bonking you over the head.

    "John McNihil" is neither. So it comes off like some contrived cartoonish b-movie name like "Jack Fist" or "Tina Love"

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming