cover image Empty Space: A Haunting

Empty Space: A Haunting

M. John Harrison. Night Shade (PGW, dist.), $15.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-59780-461-5

The third in genre legend Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract sequence, following Light (2002) and Nova Swing (2007), is a self-referential mash-up of comedic horror and space opera caricature. By turns brilliantly satirical, impenetrably dense, and deliberately crude, it alternates between the near future, where twice-widowed Anna Waterman is haunted by memories of her first husband, and a further space-faring future. A policewoman investigates a series of murders while trying on various names for size; the renegade crew of Nova Swing takes aboard dangerous cargo; and a woman appears suspended from a star-sized alien research tool thousands of years old. Deliberately inconsistent, most characters wallow in a state of existential angst and quantum absurdity, eventually coming to imaginatively grisly ends or beginnings, in a universe where sexual tourism powers economies and “stars and galaxies... look almost as remarkable as a new pair of Minnie Sittelman fuck-me pumps.” Fans of Harrison’s previous works will enjoy this postmodern pastiche, though it could prove excessively opaque to others. (Mar.)