|Submitted by Dutch |
(Oct 13, 2009)
I love New Weird. I love everything about the genre from the atmosphere, the characters it evokes to the plotlines themselves. So it was complete happenstance that I located Jeffrey Thomas's Punktown novels. I dont even remember how it happened. All I remember was that Solaris Publishers were releasing a free copy of Deadstock in pdf format on the website. So like any good little bookworm I downloaded it, whacked it onto my laptop and proceeded to read it in one night until my eyes bled.
It was that good.
Let's set the scene here; on the far off planet of Oasis, stands the nightmarish metropolis of Paxton AKA Punktown. Our resident protagonist, Jeremy Stake is a native Punktowner, a mutant from the slums of Tin Town whose mutation is Caro Turbida, a condition that makes his skin cells unstable; in effect he's a shapeshifter.
Being a detective, he's been tasked with locating the missing doll of a wealthy corporate magnate's daughter. It is only during his investigations that things begin to go sour and dark elements start to creep forward.
Now let me start by saying that unlike other writers in the genre, Thomas's writing is relatively simple. It's no Albert Camus certainly, more like David Eddings but better written. But here it works; the plotline moves along at a slick pace and there's never a boring moment. The world is nicely fleshed out and we're given just enough description of the worlds structure to get an indication of what its like, and sure as anything sometimes its downright creepy. As far as the characters go, they're likeable enough. Stake comes across as a bit of a hard-arse in some cases while being suitably flawed to make us sympathise with him.
But the books not without its flaws. The sidestory involving a local thug-gang feels a little forced and I couldnt shake the notion that the thugs (and the mutant gang they ally with) were written more as adults than rough teens. In fact some of the dialogue feels like that as well. In some cases where characters chat it comes off more like foreshadowing or reiteration of things past.
But despite these nitpicks, I enjoyed Deadstock. Its a truly shining example of what you can do with some familiar ideas and rework them into something new and creative.