Deadstock

Jeffrey Thomas, Author . Solaris $7.99 (414p) ISBN 978-1-84416-447-9

Living human skin is the latest designer fabric, mobile phones call the dead and genetics corporations manufacture headless livestock for the butcher in the latest dispatch from Thomas's Punktown, a vividly realized, ultra-bleak off-world cityscape, in which bloody terror and sci-fi spectacle meld to ferocious effect. The central plot—from which there are a number of strange digressions—concerns Jeremy Stake, an interdimensional war veteran and private eye who's constantly aggravated by his involuntary, Zelig-like ability to mimic those around him. His latest assignment is to track down a missing one-of-a-kind bio-doll manufactured specially for a genetics tycoon's daughter—a toy that isn't quite as defenseless as its teenage owner presumes. When describing the intricacies of Punktown's macabre culture, Thomas's prose sizzles, but the setup proves largely superfluous to the narrative, propelled by splatter-happy action and firefight climaxes, along with occasionally stilted exposition regarding extradimensional deities. Those hoping for a provocative exploration of the ethical dilemmas posed by Punktown's morbid culture—the sale of living female torsos to brothels, for example—will be disappointed. For a wild ride, however, readers will be hard-pressed to find a better vehicle than Thomas's bizarre multiverse; fans of cyberpunk noir and Lovecraftian horror will find much to enjoy in this messy, bravura hybrid. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
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