cover image The Ultra Thin Man

The Ultra Thin Man

Patrick Swenson. Tor, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3694-1

This splendidly lively SF debut alternates between the narrations of Alan Brindos and Dave Crowell, two irreverent gumshoes who work for the Network Intelligence Organization of the eight-world Union in the year 2113. Crowell sends Brindos to the planet Ribon, the site of a devastating antimatter attack, to investigate the apparent suicide of human Dorie Senall, who was possibly affiliated with Terl Plenko, an alien and terrorist. Swenson provides Shakespearean riffs on identity as Brindos is transformed into a Plenko clone and becomes a target for the NIO. The race for a key that nobody can identify pits Brindos, Crowell, and friends against alien manipulators of identity seeking to control the Union by substituting copy “thin men” for genuine individuals. Pig Latin, an exotic drug, a comic strip, and a retractable penis add colorful detail to a showdown that puts love and sacrifice at the heart of the self. [em](Aug.) [/em]