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Only Forward Paperback – 10 Dec 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (10 Dec 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006512666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006512660
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Excellent reviews:

‘A major work indeed’
Today

‘Smith delivers that rarest of commodities: a genuinely new twist with a punchline of Crying Game proportions’
Time Out

‘No one writes better than Smith about love … No one writes better about being wasted … Nigh-on unique.’ i-D

‘A storytelling skill that can only be described as pure genius’
Venue

"Extraordinary debut" Clive Barker

From the Back Cover

"Very funny and decidedly surreal."
EMPIRE

Night-on unique".
I-D

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sam on 8 Sep 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm not naturally a person that leaps easily to high praise or acclaim of a work of art, unless it is something special.
And this is more than that. This is in my mind one of the most understated and important novels of the last 15 years.
I also hate the usual cliches reviewers use when discussing a great book; "unputdownable" and " a real page turner" spring to mind. Yet this is a book where these cliches totally apply. As others have said, I lost sleep and missed a whole day of college to read this book. It was simply that fantastic, and I've never before or since been so entralled and captivated by a book.
Stark is a fantastic character and MMS is a master of the first person narrative. This book is also intensely funny, (you will laugh out loud), violent, beautiful, revalational, upsetting, and truely horrific. The ideas presented are phenomenal - mind boggolingly brilliant.
To describe this as Sci-fi is completely missing the point. The book is a hybrid of genres carefully woven into one another, encompassing, to name a few, elements of the Gothic, fantastical, satiric and horror traditions.
The writing is superb. Any criticism of clumsiness is misfounded. If it is ever clumsy, it is intentional to portraying Stark's human character. Re-read this and you will realise the writing is carefully crafted and beautifully sublime.
Plus, all the appliances talk! In one of the early chapters an elevator is said to be being treated by a "SWAT team of hydrolic psychotherapists" for "insinuating damaging things about the sexual proclivities of the building's interior designers..."!!
Absolute genius.
All I have to say is read this book. It will honestly immerse and affect you like no book has before!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By DiBosco VINE VOICE on 23 Aug 2002
Format: Paperback
Michael Marshall Smith is a British author to treasure; a unique writer who combines humour with science fiction and - in this novel - pure adventure.
Comparisons with other authors are both trite and unecessary; no-one writes like Smith who started his creative career at Cambridge footlights, then writing for magazines and writing short stories before embarking on this incredible book. A story that draws you in and in turn provides humour, adventure, violence, love and freindship, dreams, zany futuristic talking machines (which leads back to humour) and cats. Cats are an important part of Smith's life and the sharply portrayed cat, Spangle, in this novel is the cat he wishes he had when he wrote the book.
The book bristles with imaginitive ideas about a future where the country is divided up into neighbourhoods where you go to live the lifestyle you want. A neighbourhood where no sound is allowed apart from one part of the day when everyone can scream their heads off; one where everyone is very busy and has to spend all their energy getting-things-done; one where violence reigns; one where colours are wild, vivid and the environment changes to reflect mood and clothing; one that is for cats.
It's a world that demands to be revisited. Once is not enough for this book. Do you yourself a favour, read this incredible adventure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Swansong on 19 Oct 2007
Format: Paperback
Only Forward tells the story of Stark, all round nice guy and problem-solver extraordinaire. Stark is asked to locate a missing Actioneer, apparently kidnapped from the Action Centre, home to the sort of dynamic go-getters who'd think of a lifetimes indenture to McKinsey as a shortcut to heaven. Stark's mission takes him to Colour (where the dress code is time-dependent and rigorously enforced), Red (bring your CRUNT launcher), Stable, Turn, Fnaph, and many other of the eccentric Neighbourhoods making up his fractured home city.

Smith's language is superb, moving from witty dialogue to compelling descriptions of the increasingly disturbed landscape of the city and its dismal seashore `to muted colours and grey pebbles endlessly made cold by the ebb and flow of heavy water ... the place where it was most clearly dead because it was still there ...' Stark's life is beautifully and obliquely revealed as the book progresses.

Only Forward is by turns funny, exciting, thoughtful and, towards the end, sad and ironic. It is one of my favourite books, and I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Antony Ewing on 26 Jun 2000
Format: Paperback
This was my first MMS novel and convinced me to read everything he has written to date. The dialogue is quick and sharp, the characters gritty and well-relaised, the edginess apparent, but still unexpected when it grows and turns on you. Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrells, meets BladeRunner. I have not seen this stle in his other works, but this you BUY.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By George Kelly on 21 Feb 2014
Format: Paperback
"Hu is where you go to worship the devil properly without being bothered by sane people. Hu is the very end of the line. If you're in Hu you're either dead, about to be dead, or squatting in a dark abandoned building, chewing on the bodies."

Only Forward is primarily about a private eye in the future who has to find someone who might-or-might-not-have been kidnapped by a group of psychotic renegades. It's a futuristic world in which everybody lives in their own set community, depending on their personality. People who like colours, for instance, live in "Colour"; people who like beer, live with alcoholics; people who like to kill, usually end up in Red. And this futuristic landscape plays an integral part in the novel. But you don't find that out until later.

Which is one of my main problems with the story: the novel heads in one direction for a good third of the book, then suddenly veers into something completely different, almost negating everything before. Almost as if the author suddenly came up with a great idea and tried to segue into it. Or maybe he started this novel, didn't know how to finish it, then came back at a later date with a new angle. Either way, I was experiencing one thing--this humorous PI novel--and then it switched into a more sinister deep darker novel, with horror coming to the forefront, which, although interesting and gripping, was slightly out of left field. There's even a one-page epilogue at the end that wraps up every mystery from the first hundred pages or so in a couple paragraphs.
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