Saturday, January 10, 2015

It's Spademan, Spademan All the Time!

Crows in the trees across the street, huddled up in the cold.
Sunrise was at 7:56, sunset will be at 4:38 pm.  Tomorrow!  Sunrise will occur one minute earlier than today, tomorrow we will have 1:42 more daylight than today.  Sunrise will happen at 7:55!  Calloo Callay!  I've loved walking to work in the dark, last week I got off the ferry in Bainbridge and IT WAS STILL DARK!  It feels so special to be out at that time of day- if you've ever worked the graveyard shift you know it's different, the people are different, quieter, the very air is different from what those who work in daylight hours experience.  We notice the wind pick up as the sun rises - some people never feel that happen.  I'll miss the dark when it's daylight as the alarm goes off.  But the earth will keep spinning and it will happen all over again.

I LOVE science fiction, speculative fiction, anything that takes our current time and knowledge and uses it to change what we expect the future to be.  Science fiction takes what we know now and expands it into the far future, mostly skipping all the in-between years inventing the various things we need to survive a changed world, enough time to evolve into different beings, time to move off our earth.  Science fiction expands where we are to where we will be.

Speculative fiction moves us only slightly into the future - our world, us, we are still recognizable, things have changed just enough to still be familiar but different enough to feel wrong.  I really like reading about these shorter jumps into the future, you can trace the journey we would take to get to the point where these stories take place. 

50 years ago, Fahrenheit 451 might have been science fiction, now it’s speculative: we have walls of television screens and are able to interact with the actors.  It’s only a matter of time before we can live and work, alone, sustained by outside forces called for by punching only a few buttons…oh, wait, sorry, already there! Green trucks full of groceries, brown trucks full of everything else.

Adam Sternbergh’s series about a massively damaged New York City is a great look at how a single, admittedly huge, disaster can change the course of the future.

A few years from now, a dirty bomb was dropped in Times Square and a series of bombs were released in the subways and on the bridges severing Manhattan from the rest of the city.  Millions were killed in the fallout over the years and thousands were killed and left buried in the rubble under the cities, many more died as the infrastructure fell apart.  The wealthy “tap in” to a virtual reality that takes them away from a ravaged world, nurses caring for their physical needs, others tap in as they can afford it.  The Limnosphere is addictive and insidious, you can get anything in there.  If you have the money.

Out of the destruction comes Spademan, a garbageman before the events, a hitman after.  To Spademan, garbage is garbage is garbage, give him a name, he will take it out to the curb.  This way of life works well for him since he doesn’t have anything else to lose, his wife died in the bombings, he spent way too much time in the limnosphere, he drinks too much – after he pulled himself out of despair, he decided to keep the streets clean in his own special way.  He asks no questions, he just doesn’t care.  Until his latest client points him at the daughter of an evangelical preacher.  Obviously, she’s done something Daddy can’t abide so she has to go missing. 

I LOVE this very noir mystery series set in the near future.  Spademan’s world is pretty well contained within the greater Manhattan area, the lack of complete bridges keeps most of the action on the island, so the world building (un-building?) feels true and pretty darned creepy and the Limnosphere is a really cool, but really scary, invention.  We already know what virtual reality is like, we know that people spend a lot of time in games, but what if you could design a world so much better than anything outside your head, you never wanted to leave?  Business is conducted, beautiful people are your friends, you can do whatever you want in the Limnosphere, including murder.

With Shovel Ready and Near Enemy, Adam Sternbergh has created a very dark world with an anti-hero we will all want to believe in.  

(Book number one is Shovel Ready, available now in paperback.  $14.00.  Book number two is Near Enemy, available January 13, 2015, in hardcover for $24.00. I don’t know when number three will be available, but I want it NOW!  Random House publishes these books under the imprints of Broadway Books and Crown Publishing.)

As always, you can give us a call, come by, or go to Harbor Book Company’s website to get copies of any of these books.  We are happy to keep you in reading material!

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