Nova Swing

Nova Swing Set In The Unique World First Featured In The Award Winning Light, Here Is A Story Of Love, Murder, And Intergalactic Noir On The Razor S Edge Of The Imagination, As Envisioned By The Incomparable M John Harrison Not Far From Moneytown, In A Neighborhood Of Underground Clubs, Body Modification Chop Shops, Adolescent Contract Killers, And Sexy Streetwalking Monas, You Ll Find The Saudade Event Site A Zone Of Strange Geography, Twisted Physics, And Frightening Psychic Onslaughts Vic Serotonin Is An Illegal Travel Agent Into And Out Of Saudade His Latest Client Is A Woman As Unpredictable As The Site Itself And Maybe As Dangerous She Wants A Tour Inside Saudade Just As A Troubling New Class Of Biological Artifacts Have Started Leaving Living Algorithms That Are Transforming The Real World In Unsettling Ways Pursued By A Detective Intent On Collaring Him For His Illegal Tours, And Hunted By A Gangster Convinced That The Travel Agent Has Infected Him With A Rogue Artifact, Vic Must Make One Final Trip As The Universe Around Him Rapidly Veers Toward Viral Chaos


❮Ebook❯ ➩ Nova Swing ➪ Author M. John Harrison –
  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • Nova Swing
  • M. John Harrison
  • English
  • 26 November 2018
  • 9780553590869

10 thoughts on “Nova Swing

  1. says:

    I had slightly higher expectations for this novel simply because I was blown away by all the awesome ideas that he managed to stuff into Light, and don t get me wrong, he continues the trend beautifully and a lot cohesively from Vic s PoV, a travel agent that sometimes takes chumps to the Kefahuchi Tract, or at least to what has become of it after it descended to, and transformed, huge portions of Earth.To be clear, this means that the laws of what should or should not be possible have been temporarily suspended in this area, and it also means that this novel has firmly slotted itself into the category of the New Weird.A lot happens, just as many ideas are paraded about in awesome strangeness, including K Ship tech on the surface of the planet in the hands of shop owners, of semi intelligent tattoos, the need for rickshaws, and some of the funniest juxtapositions of gene splicing technology for the marks that I ve read, including transforming yourself to have the beauty of an old Einstein, because peeps in the 25th century just don t understand certain things they should be going after his BRAINS Not his LOOKS lolAnd this is also a mystery The murders are still going on and it harkens straight back to the first novel and the odd end we got But most of all, with all the sex and the dreams and all the sheer naked desire for something being displayed on everyone s scenes, it s also good commentary About them Not us We certainly look nothing like that, do we Still, as much as I love so much of what s going on here, I wasn t quite as invested in these characters as I should have been, and that s despite the great line, After all, no one has ever given a fuck about a fat man named Anton I mean, truly, in a line by line exploration of the novel, it s rich, rich, rich and literary It makes me think and wonder and glory in the use of the language It s truly a step up from normal SF The mystery is a sight accomplished and interesting that most, and that s merely because the setting was so damn well fleshed out Still, I have to wonder if the incidentals and the world building might have been just a tad too strong in its flavors and it drowned out the taste of Vic s story I mean, not to spoil anything here, he stops being a travel agent, and that s probably a good thing since everybody and their fat dog either wants to betray him or just went ahead and did it, and it s really not safe back at home, anyway When it comes to themes, it s fine, it s good, and it s right, but I wonder if the plot might have been served better by something a bit SATISFYING and MEATY, you know I complain But I really ought to point out that the sheer weight of idea awesomeness in this series, so far, far outweighs six out of seven SF novels on the market I complain about characters, while everything else happens to be freakily awesome I just feel like it missed an opportunity Or perhaps the intent wasn t quite that satisfying for me so it never would have won with me sigh

  2. says:

    The whole debate, which is mostly due to the 20th century publishing industries insidious pollution of our intellectual market, of whether or not Sci Fi is trash or literature is best summed up by the Ted Sturgeon quote, Yes 95% of it is trash, but 95% of everything is trash But what dyed in the wool science fiction books of recent times match masterpieces of contemporary literature for tone, symbolism, meaning, intelligence, and ferocity On this short shelf I would place Gene Wolfe s Fifth Head of Cerberus, Michael Swanwick s Stations of the Tide, Stepan Chapman s Troika, Jeff Vandermeer s Veniss Underground, and M John Harrison s Light So where does this sequel of sorts to Light sit on this shelf Pretty comfortably I believe Delivering a story openly indebted to The Brother Strugatsky s Roadside Picnic or Tarkovsky s film Stalker based on the story , with an alien realm of bizarre physics that requires guides to explore, and is infecting the surrounding world There is a noir cyberpunk feel if someone wrote a screenplay they could describe it as Stalker meets Blade Runner Casablanca to this but in Harrison s Delaney and Bester channeled through Beckett prose this is a world of unfulfilled dreams, anguish, sickness, madness, and piercing melancholy delivered in a surreal, dream state fugue This book is a good literary companion of Bowie s Berlin Trilogy there is character named Joe the Lion afterall

  3. says:

    4 Stars Nova Swing book two in the Light series by M John Harrison was bound to come up short when compared to the brilliance of the first book Light This was exasperated for me as I read this one immediately following my read of it One thing that they both share in common is the brilliant writing of M John Harrison His books are literary and verbose and they deserve a wide audience. You must be careful of me, Vic I m not really here Nova Swing is a much smaller scoped story that takes place not long after the events of book one This one takes place on Saudade, a city on a planet of the same name on the Beach, a place in the galaxy significant to book one The resolution of the first book have given Nova Swing a unique and incredible character The city itself is now the resting place of the Kefahuchi Tract and the Event has caused this to be bizzare unreal environment where things are almost always not what they seem It is like a ghost town than a real place with shifting and evaporating people places and things It is the best character and best part of the book.Vic was not a good main protagonist for me I never really cared for him or about him The other small characters were forgettable These character flaws were tough to accept after the larger than life hero assholes from book one I never felt the noir aspect to the story I was never engaged with any part of this one when compared to Light Although I liked much of the book I didn t love it Harrison piqued my interest enough to move on to the last book in the series Empty Space.

  4. says:

    My review of this book is much longer than Goodreads word count limitations Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography Regular readers know that I ve been in a bit of a special situation for the last month, in that by random luck I was able to track down at my local library five of the ten twelve science fiction books nominated this year for either the Philip K Dick Award or the Hugo Award added to my review of Charles Stross Halting State earlier in the year, that makes half of the books I m going to get the chance to review here at CCLaP, between now and August 9th when the Hugo winner is finally announced in Denver The others so far besides Halting State Jon Armstrong s Grey, Sean Williams Astropolis Saturn Returns, and Ian McDonald s Brasyl Still to come John Scalzi s The Last Colony Oh, and even good news On my latest trip to the main Chicago library in the Loop, I also found Robert J Sawyer s Rollback and Adam Roberts Gradisil, making it now at least eight of the twelve nominees I ll get a chance to read for myself That leaves only Michael Chabon s The Yiddish Policemen s Union, Minister Faust s From the Notebooks of Dr Brain, Elizabeth Bear s Undertow and Karen Traviss Ally For those who don t know, in fact, these two awards represent very different things within the world of science fiction or SF , and with two very different sets of criteria for winning them The Hugo is in fact supposed to reflect the absolutely best SF novel of the year, as chosen by the members of the annual Worldcon convention and maintained by the World Science Fiction Society while the PKD Award instead reflects the best experimental or cutting edge SF novel of the year, chosen by a private panel of professionals and co sponsored by the Philip K Dick Trust and the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society And indeed, it s no coincidence that an award dedicated to experimental and cutting edge work would be named after PKD, because that was his own career in a nutshell visionary, madman, possible drug addict, a man who in 1974 experienced either a set of persistent mystical visions or a nervous breakdown depending on who you re talking to , Dick was literally decades ahead of his time in his trippy, mind bending work, making him obscure and controversial in the 70s when he was alive but just now becoming a mainstream cultural figure in the shiny Singularity times of the present day But of course I m giving short shrift to this imminently remarkable artist, since he s not really the focus of today s review for a lot about him and why you should care about his work, see my review of Richard Linklater s adaptation of A Scanner Darkly, from last year My main point of even bringing all this up is to establish to all you SF non fans just what s so important about winning the PKD Award, and what it signifies to readers in the know before they ever pick up the award winner in question and that of course is because today s book under review just happens to be the winner of this year s PKD Award, M John Harrison s Nova Swing Because make no mistake, this is not the best of the nominated SF books I ve read this year that honor still belongs to Brasyl but it s definitely the best experimental or cutting edge novel I ve read this year, and that counts all the other experimental stuff I ve reviewed here in the last twelve months, whether or not it was SF This is a crazy story for people who specifically love crazy stories, a tale which takes elements from half a dozen genres and mixes them all into one giant unique stew you re going to love it if you already love things like that, hate it and in fact find it barely comprehensible if you don t It s a perfect reflection of what the PKD Award should be about in the first place, because like Dick s work itself the book is a frustrating and fascinating one one that requires patience and a lot of digressive thoughts in order to get through, one that is constantly veering off into unexpected directions.In fact, that s probably a good place to start with any review of Nova Swing, that its particulars make it difficult to offer up any kind of simple summary whatsoever I mean, just to begin with, this is a sequel of sorts to an earlier book of Harrison s called Light which I confess I haven t read , although supposedly not really a sequel either, but rather a story that simply takes place in the same fictional universe, a story set a generation after the first one, where the major characters of the former have fleeting cameos in the latter, otherwise not affecting the brand new story being told And what is that story Well, like I said, it s kind of hard to wrap your brain around it all, without sitting down and reading the entire 250 page book yourself although you can safely say that it is primarily about an alien city, one that has been under the influence for a quarter of a century now of a mysterious galaxian anomaly in the sky above, an unexplainable black holey type thing that scientists have named the Kefahuchi Tract This in turn has produced a bizarre local effect on the part of the city itself directly below the tract, which is called the Saudade Event and reflecting the disruptive space time storm that it is, like a traditional storm this Event has an eye or especially destructive center and aureole or weaker outer edge.Have I lost you already See, that s why it s important to actually read Nova Swing, and why it s notoriously difficult to write a tidy summary of such a book because under Harrison s elegant, veteran hands, he presents a complex Event site than I ever could today, a city neighborhood that is part haunted house and part Surrealist film, a physical space with all the dread of Mark Danielewski s House of Leaves but all the absurdist humor of Robert Heinlein s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls And is it just me, or did this book remind anyone else of the obscure, short lived Vertigo comic Deadenders, by Ed Brubaker Or was I the only person in America who actually used to read that comic Let s be clear, that the Saudade Event is basically the main character of Nova Swing it is bizarre, it is obsessively fascinating, it presents its own geography and inexplicable rules, just like the best world building style fantastical literature should Because that s really what Harrison is doing here, building an uncannily real feeling fictional world for us to get lost in, or at least a city in this case, a proud tradition within SF and sometimes important to certain readers than the actual story being told.Because when Harrison gets around to telling the actual story, see, strangely enough it s not too much than a standard noir, told in a tough and minimalist Chandleresque way, full of street smart humor you usually don t expect from a SF story, part of why it s been getting so much attention precisely for its language Like, take this good example, from when a cop and his assistant are debating the origins of a group of unknown space aliens currently in custody What do they look like to you They look like idiots Because as you can well imagine, in a city neighborhood where both the weather and the sky color change every few minutes, where random snippets of music can always be heard and sometimes a thousand pairs of used boots will suddenly appear in the sky for no reason, of course this becomes the hottest extreme tourist destination this side of Vietnam, and of course people from all over the galaxy are arriving each day for the chance to take a walk through its streets But because of its danger and unpredictability dozens have been lost in the Event and never seen again , the local government has made all entry into the site highly illegal but since the local police can t exactly build physical barriers they just get swallowed up by the Event in the night, turned into something random and weird the next morning , it is in fact pretty easy to take a walking tour of the site s aureole if you re sneaky and happen to know what you re doing.And thus enters our anti hero, professional Event guerrilla tour organizer Vic Serotonin, one of a whole group of futured up noir stereotypes who populate the seedy bar Black Cat White Cat at the center of our tale there is also the genetically engineered warrior animal underground boxer he of the elephant like tusks and three foot perpetually erect penis , the matching genetically engineered prostitute she of thenever mind who loves him, the weasely gangster who pays good money for artefacts snuck out of the site, the cynical cop who s been cloned to look like Albert Einstein, even the grizzled female owner of the bar, a former K ship pilot with a past she doesn t like discussing And that s the thing I want to try to get across today that even with Harrison s superior writing skills and make no mistake, he s a better writer than most others in the genre , this would essentially still be not much than a blase space noir tale if not for the grand funk known as the Saudade Event, or least not a book worthy of the PKD Award By filtering it through this utterly original, utterly mesmerizing concept of the Event itself, by making that concept metaphorically shine and sparkle as much as Harrison does, the noir stereotypes of the plot suddenly become a delight instead of tiring and hackneyed, which I think is where so many other SF authors get things wrong there are too many writers, I think, who

  5. says:

    I love the science fiction of M John Harrison, which he writes in burnished steel, elegantly and smoothly detailing heartbreak and loss, perversion and excess, etching rapid, brutal violence with the same casual ease he tosses off bar stool patter between mean street acquaintances and gene spliced miscreants I have yet to come across another writer who can so vividly yet matter of factly describe the interplay between multidimensional mathematics and quantum exoticness in ultra technology, while simultaneously ensuring that his characters all retain traces of vulnerable and bruised humanity, no matter the biotech alterations tailoring in Harrison s future slang that have swung the far flung spawn of Earth closer towards something mechanical and artificial Nova Swing takes places several decades after the events of his equally brilliant novel Light This time, the mysterious Kefahuchi Tract has been leaking its singular strangeness a large mass of warped physics and unreality known as the Event has landed smack dab in the middle of the city of Saudade, the chief urban centre of a self named planet that is one of the cluster of systems that constitute the Beach, a stretch of the galaxy all under the overarching halo of the mysterious Kefahuchi Tract Vic Serotonin is a lonely, unsure, and burned out entradista, one who illegally leads tourists into the reality flux and dream logic of the Event s boundaries, a place where strange smells, sights, and sounds call out luringly from objects sketched in the air like wispy cartoons where tens of thousands of black and white cats amass like living fur architecture and staircases change to milky streams in mid step Vic is despised by the older guides for never having dared to seek the heart of the Event, to suss its secrets, with their pioneering spirit he is pursued by the guilt daubed detective Lens Aschemann, bio sculpted to resemble a middle aged Einstein, still tormented by the death of his wife years before and aware of a curious and perhaps dangerous exchange that is operating between the Event and the unwitting citizens of Saudade Throw in a supporting cast of code sick criminal kingpins, gun toting, rain slicker wearing nine year old bodyguards, sexily clad and scented Mona s, gladiatorial cultivars, and a trio of women Edith, Liv and the Assistant who all have ties and desires to a combination of Vic, Lens and the Event and you have a novel as fascinating, flowing and fun as Nova Swing.A word of warning even so than in Light , there is little resolution to Nova Swing in the form of closure much like life, events have a way of continuing on, plus or minus a few actors Harrison is really inking panels depicting loss, memory, guilt, and desire, especially the desire to remake ourselves, the siren song of starting anew enticingly easy in Harrison s 2444, when biotechnology is a cultural institution Panels about etiolated dreams and the way we resist trying to colourize them past a certain age or point about the life the past and memories can take on, independent of those who were there at a certain point in space time, and that the Event might just be involved in creating life forms from such memories, from discarded pain and triumphs and wonder and lust hatching a new breed of humanity from the detritus of the old I will be eagerly snatching up the other fictions of Harrison I recommend this one whole heartedly.

  6. says:

    I read this for three reasons 1 I figured it would be best to read it after Light, seeing as they occupy the same universe 2 To move it from the traveling library into the Massachusetts semi permanent library and3 So that I could have three books in a row on my Read shelf with cats on the cover.The third reason was actually the deciding point, and if I knew where it was I d consider rereading The Schr dinger s Cat Trilogy for a try at four books featuring cats on the cover Or maybe Tailchaser s Song, except I don t own that one Not that I was expecting much from this after Light, but I think this one was less satisfying Surprisingly enough Drab neo noir tone It was clich , redundant, and inane Sense of story character Again, he gets close to getting somewhere, and then a character does or says something stupid, and it s all back to square one I can t for the life of me tell you why Fat Antoyne or Irene the Mona are prominent characters, and even in a literary sense they don t serve a purpose foils for Vic Serotonin and if they were, they were pointless, redundant, and inane Sense of plot I m sorry, something happened Sense of environment Same place as before, except stuck on one planet with some REALLY FUCKED UP SHIT GOING DOWN WITH THIS SITE THING No explanation, no attempt at explanation, lots of cats Pointless concluding chapter Vic s dead, Lens is pixelating for lack of a better word, Vic s under developed client Elizabeth is loose in the event site, so how about we wrap things up for everyone else mentioned Ooh, look, happy ish endings.On the whole, this book suffers from lack of execution It has some really good things going for it Weird event site thing, maybe presenting a chance to explore and explain the Kefahuchi Tract some A mysterious woman shows up and wants to be taken inside for a tour, and as the back of the cover hints she could be dangerous than she seems Boom , you have yourself a femme fatale, however, in execution she is the worst femme fatale I have ever encountered She s whiny, under developed, and not at all interesting, while Harrison tries to make her seem philosophical via introduction of her diary than she really is You also have your weakened male protagonist, who seems to be tailored pun intended to look like the Humphrey Bogart esque noir man with his gabardine jacket than he does act like one A cheap knock off, and everyone has to tell you about him instead of him acting it out for himself.Add on to this the mystery of the people leaking out of the site, and Aschemann and his psychotic assistant s investigation There was no investigation, this was a mess exactly, and I hate to say I agree w the assistant , which goes nowhere despite its seeming relevance and mystery No, instead, it s mere grounds for trying to bag Vic for crime s I m not at all clear on because he brings things out of the event site because that s a real plot point right there that s highly elaborated on, except for Paulie s daughter, which isn t explained at all, really , and then we can forget about it and try to make a story surrounding arresting Vic for one reason or another.Positives Black Cat White Cat Nice name Real keeper.Lens Great name, really dig that he looks like Einstein Now go deeper.Next time, about the cats, though, please.

  7. says:

    This was the spiritual successor to Roadside Picnic that I have always wanted.

  8. says:

    Cyberdrunk.Wow.Any trendy genre is doomed to become desperately uncool in time Take cyberpunk, bless it That self consciously wired sci fi stepchild ended up making the journey from envelope pushing early 80s edginess to nothing than fodder for mid 90s straight to video stodge But hey, it s not cyberpunk s fault It heralded the age of information overload, but now that we re sliding down the infolanche for real, it can seem as naive as a 1950 s World s Fair A lot of its concerns style tribes, virtual reality, post apocalyptic dystopias seem laughably dated.M John Harrison couldn t give a toss, though Good for him Nostalgia and science fiction are spookily close A A GillThat s one of the quotes that prefaces this extraordinary exercise in style It makes a lot of sense, too Harrison s world is cyberpunk refried and expertly blended into a pulp setting a setting that cyberpunk has always been magnetically drawn to from the start The action takes place in a backwater street of a down at heel city on a who cares planet, stuffed full of romantically dissolute lowlifes Liv Hula manages a bar, but can t pull her life out of the gutter Vic Serotonin makes a living out of taking slumming tourists to the edge of an indescribable spatial anomaly that landed downtown a generation ago, but he s losing himself in the process Fat Antoyne hustles for a buck and tries to get loved Lens Aschemann is the detective who looks just like the older Albert Einstein, driving a 1952 pink Cadillac, who s trying to piece all these lives together But the centre of the novel is the city Saudade itself, in its desperate, dingy beauty, eerily mirrored in the dreamlike chaos of the anomaly.And everybody drinks, like there s no tomorrow For these hoods and whores, maybe there isn t They re trapped in a future where the only gene modification you can t buy is a way to like who you are.This isn t about the wisecracks and sharp hats noir of films like The Big Sleep It s like the melancholy cool of Raymond Chandler s original novel, where regret and betrayal is subtly deadly than a hundred blackjack armed thugs, and the streets are always slick with rain Nova Swing isn t about sci fi whizz bang gadgetry or cosmos spanning metaphysics either, although Harrison doles these out with a sort of weary, inspired generosity.So why isn t this a mere literary experiment Because Harrison has something to write about The characters circle each other, desperate to find a meaning in a midnight hook up, a collar, a brawl It s about how everything falls apart slowly, how adults betray their child selves, how love is already on the lam but how just maybe it s enough to get you off this godforsaken world and into a future which might be illusory, but has to be better than the now.Make no mistake Nova Swing sweats style Even if sometimes the effects are a little laboured, it s all a labour of love This review may be dull, but Harrison s prose isn t It s jaded, seductive street poetry.Inevitably, the detective plot which is always the loser in the pulp setting, and doesn t even have much what happens next attraction here can t pull us all the way to a showstopping finish But even this doesn t matter, because Harrison is evoking a mood, a style a way of living or putting off life that s as grown up, thrilling and phantasmagorical as anything else in science fiction.

  9. says:

    Nova Swing puede considerarse como una extra a secuela de Luz , ambas ambientadas en el universo del Canal Kefahuchi La novela transcurre en Saudade, zona en la que cay parte de dicho canal, y que ha dado lugar a una singularidad espacio temporal donde las leyes de la f sica se han visto alteradas, y en cuyo interior pueden encontrarse artefactos, tecnolog as y organismos de origen extraterrestre aunque esto se supone Es aqu donde entra en juego Vic Serotonina, una especie de recuperador, que trabaja como gu a y traficante de estos elementos Pero nunca se sabe qu se va a encontrar uno cuando se adentra en el Solar, en esta zona prohibida Puede ser desde algo maravilloso, hasta algo de pesadilla Aqu es donde interviene Delitos del Solar, digamos que la polic a que se encarga de que nadie se adentre y pueda extraer cualquier objeto contaminante.La novela de M John Harrison es una historia coral ambientada en un futuro lejano, que propone un escenario totalmente fascinante A lo largo de la narraci n, iremos conociendo a una serie de personajes y las relaciones que se establecen entre ellos, siendo lo m s interesante su apreciable evoluci n Como es habitual en la prosa de Harrison, esta es excelente, quedando la historia supeditada a los personajes y no tanto al trasfondo de la misma Como si de un puzzle se tratase, el lector debe ir encajando las piezas, quedando ciertas partes de la narraci n a merced de su imaginaci n Esto hace que la lectura de la novela no sea precisamente f cil, aunque s existe un hilo conductor m s patente que en Luz , que le da un aire de novela negra m s que interesante.Lo que m s me ha gustado de Nova Swing es la atm sfera evocadora que logra transmitir, hasta cierto punto decadente y opresiva, que me ha recordado a las novelas de Viriconium Es una lectura exigente, que gustar a los que ya conozcan a M John Harrison, aunque no la recomendar a a todo el mundo.

  10. says:

    The whole debate, which is mostly due to the 20th century publishing industries insidious pollution of our intellectual market, of whether or not SciFi is trash or literature is best summed up by the Ted Sturgeon quote, Yes 95% of it is trash, but 95% of everything is trash But what dyed in the wool science fiction books of recent times match masterpieces of contemporary literature for tone, symbolism, meaning, intelligence, and ferocity On this short shelf I would place Gene Wolfe s Fifth Head of Cerberus, Michael Swanwick s Stations of the Tide, Stepan Chapman s Troika, Jeff Vandermeer s Veniss Underground, and M John Harrison s Light So where does this sequel of sorts to Light sit on this shelf Pretty comfortably I believe Delivering a story openly indebted to The Brother Strugatsky s Roadside Picnic or Tarkovsky s film Stalker based on the story , with an alien realm of bizarre physics that requires guides to explore, and is infecting the surrounding world There is noir cyberpunk feel if someone wrote a screenplay they could describe it as Stalker meets Blade Runner Casablanca to this but in Harrison s Delaney and Bester channeled through Beckett prose this is a world of unfulfilled dreams, anguish, sickness, madness, and piercing melancholy delivered in a surreal, dream state fugue.

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