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Monday, February 18, 2008

"Blue War" by Jeffrey Thomas

Official Jeffrey Thomas Website
Order “Blue WarHERE (US) + HERE (UK)
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s REVIEW of “Deadstock
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s INTERVIEW with Jeffrey Thomas
Download Deadstock” for free HERE

In Jeffrey Thomas’ latest Punktown novel—other titles include Punktown, Monstrocity, Everybody Scream!, Punktown: Shades of Grey and Deadstock—private investigator and mutant shapeshifter Jeremy Stake, star of “Deadstock” and the short story “In His Sights” (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction), returns to face his greatest challenge yet.

This time, Stake is asked by an old pal to investigate the situation on the extradimensional planet Sinan where a standard housing development has gone horribly wrong. Instead of the little condo-type village that was supposed to have been grown from the preprogrammed smart matter, an eerily detailed replica of Punktown is being constructed which is consuming everything in its path including forests, villages, farms, and temples. And because of Punktown’s immensity, it’s only a matter of time before Bluetown—so called for its color scheme as well as its obvious relationship to Punktown—devours the Jin Haa’s city Di Noon. As horrifying as that is, the real reason Jeremy was brought in was because of another discovery: three clones that were grown in the middle of Bluetown. Finding out who the clones are based on, how the smart matter was able to achieve such a complicated process, and stopping the growth of Bluetown are all part of Jeremy’s job, but there’s even more to the situation.

You see, as revealed in “Deadstock” and revisited in the new book, Stake was a deep ops veteran of the Blue War when the Earth Colonies backed the moderate Jin Haa in breaking away from their religious conservative counterparts the Ha Jiin in exchange for access to Sinon—a gas emitted from the decomposition of the Sinanese dead—which is what fuels quantum teleportation, the latest breakthrough in travel. So for Jeremy, returning back to Sinan means reliving the horrors of that war and other difficult memories, especially that of Thi Gonh, a Ha Jiin sniper dubbed ‘the Earth Killer’ that he fell in love with during the war…and is still madly in love with eleven years later. In other words, Stake’s mind is not entirely on the task at hand and to make matters worse, he has to deal with a Colonel that seems to be hindering his investigation and a conspiracy—including a lethal STD aimed specifically at the Sinanese—intent on provoking a second Blue War

If you read “Deadstock” you should recognize the Punktown setting, Jeremy Stake and the Earth Killer Thi Gonh, but let me warn you that “Blue War” is quite a different novel. For starters, where “Deadstock” ranged wildly from cyberpunk noir to Lovecraftian horror and just outright bizarreness in exciting b-movie fashion, “Blue War” is a more accessible, intelligent and provocative sci-fi thriller. That’s not to say that “Blue War” doesn’t offer any of the imagination, nerve or genre-busting that Jeffrey is known for. After all, besides the Bluetown mystery and some cyberpunk elements, the book still has plenty of bloody violence and Jeffrey’s trademark weirdness like sex with a hermaphrodite, Sinan’s dangerous fauna—jellyfish-like Benders which terrorize the sky, carrion trees, snipes—and the Sinanese clerics who mutilate their bodies as a show of their faith and possess powerful telekinetic abilities. It’s just that most of it is overshadowed by the weightier issues at hand like the obvious Middle East/Vietnam War parallels, cloning ethics, the riveting love story between Stake & Thi and the cultural clashes involved, and the overriding theme of identity that is explored in countless ways such as Jeremy’s chameleon-like talent, the Punktown facsimile, the clones, teleportation which is basically another form of cloning, Thi’s many different personas, et cetera. In addition to all of that, there were a few other deviations like the third-person narrative focusing mainly on Stake this time rather than the alternating viewpoints found in “Deadstock”, and the lack of flashbacks—both of which helped to streamline “Blue War’s” narrative. Still, as a whole it’s mainly the differences philosophically and stylistically that are most apparent.

Overall, “Blue War” was another impressive entry in the Punktown mythos, and while I admit that I missed the zaniness found in “Deadstock”—especially the horror-influenced vibes—and thought the book was toned down in a couple of areas like the language & the violence, I very much enjoyed Jeffrey’s new book. Particularly I really like Jeremy Stake as a protagonist, loved that Thi was more heavily involved since she was a favorite of mine from “Deadstock”, and I thought the subject matter was much more satisfying this time around. In short, Jeffrey Thomas continues to impress, and if you haven’t discovered this fantastic author for yourself yet, then there’s no better time than the present…


David said...

Looking forward to this one!

daydream said...

Sounds like an awesome book. Thank you for the great review.

Robert said...

Daydream, I'm glad you liked the review and hope you like the book too!

David, I'll be interested to see what you think of it :)

reanimated said...

Looking forward to this, also.

: )

Jeffrey Thomas said...

I'm pleased by your interest in BLUE WAR -- and by this review! Hope you all like it.

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