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Red Planet Blues

Red Planet Blues [Kindle Edition]

Robert J. Sawyer
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Book Description

From the bestselling author of FLASHFORWARD, meet the only private eye on Mars!

Product Description

Robert J. Sawyer, the author of such "revelatory and thought-provoking" novels as Triggers and The WWW Trilogy, presents a noir mystery expanded from his Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella "Identity Theft" and his Aurora Award-winning short story "Biding Time," set on a lawless Mars in a future where everything is cheap, and life is even cheaper...

Alex Lomax is the one and only private eye working the mean streets of New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that sprang up forty years ago after Simon Weingarten and Denny O'Reilly discovered fossils on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, where anything can be synthesized, the remains of alien life are the most valuable of all collectibles, so shiploads of desperate treasure hunters stampeded to Mars in the Great Martian Fossil Rush.

Trying to make an honest buck in a dishonest world, Lomax tracks down killers and kidnappers among the failed prospectors, corrupt cops, and a growing population of transfers-lucky stiffs who, after striking paleontological gold, upload their minds into immortal android bodies. But when he uncovers clues to solving the decades-old murders of Weingarten and O'Reilly, along with a journal that may lead to their legendary mother lode of Martian fossils, God only knows what he'll dig up...

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 520 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0425256413
  • Publisher: Gollancz (9 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CLRGA18
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #207,449 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer has been described as Canada's answer to Michael Crichton. Critically acclaimed in the US he is regarded as one of SF's most significant writers and his novels are regularly voted as fan's favourites. He lives in Canada.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Killie
Format:Kindle Edition
Red Planet Blues" by Robert Sawyer is slightly different from the more Space Opera styled Science Fiction novels I normally read. The book is an interesting take of the 1940's era pulp noir detective novel set that has been expanded from his earlier short story entitled "Identify Theft". It tells the story of a PI named Alex Lomax working on a frontier gold rush styled town on Mars. When Lomax gets involved in a missing android case he can't anticipate the adventure he is going to embark upon which leads him to unravel a decades old mystery surrounding the location of a mother lode of valuable Martian fossils.

In terms of the story, it was a fun read and the world that Lomax has created was particularly interesting with its gritty, dark feeling and a subtle sense of desperation. It is very soft on the Science Fiction side of things which I think works well alongside the novel's pulpy feel. Despite this softness, Sawyer does still try and tackle some interesting issues such as souls and how they are affected by the transfer of people's consciousness into android bodies was nice to see although it isn't really an original concept.

There are a couple of weak points in the novel, the first of which is linked to the structuring of the plot. The novel feels like a collection of three individual short stories the author has tried to shoehorn together rather than being a well-structured overall story. In addition these three elements all felt very similar, Lomax would investigate a little before initiating some form of action packed chase and stand-off. I would have appreciated seeing a little bit more thought and development being evoked which may have helped avoid the repetitive feeling.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Saywers best 20 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love Robert Sawyers books, they are engaging and explain science in an entertaining way as well as expanding to the "what if".

This book is a departure from his normal style, it's a detective novel in space. The idea is OK, the story is good enough but it's the use of detective clichés I thought was a bit below Mr Sawyer.

That said, it is a decent enough read, just not one of his best so don't judge his output by this alone, or the USA TV version of "Flash Forward", which seemed to have almost no similarity with the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant ideas around mind uploading 1 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The this books main thrust is a private investigator novel placed on Mars in the next century, the philiosphical conundrums around mind uploading and what it actually means to be an uploaded mind in a machine body were the most interesting parts of this book. Sawyer (as usual) mixes some interesting philosophy into his yarn.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  67 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Really Fine, Fun, Enjoyable Outing for Sawyer 21 April 2013
By Brian Driver - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Robert J. Sawyer continues to amaze me.

RED PLANET BLUES is a blast to read, an old timey gumshoe-detective story set on Mars, one of those "Who Did It" detective tales that's more "Who's DOING It," as the mysteries keep piling up with almost every chapter.

RED PLANET BLUES is sci-fi, to be sure - it's set in the future, takes place on VERY foreign soil, and about half the characters are "transfers" (robotic bodies into which humans have transferred their consciousnesses). But Sawyer is mostly interested in having fun this time around...his concepts here are not meant to push the edge of the envelope. Rather, consider it a novel that that USES sci-fi to allow that story to be told.

Being a private eye story, it's full of tricky secrets, hidden identities, spurious motivations, criminal shortcuts and ill-gotten gains. Our hero is Alex Lomax, or Double-X, as befitting each name's concluding letter. He's a drinker, a lover (who doesn't mind married or even artificial women), a fighter (who is often outmatched by transfers), and a romantic with a secret past of his own. But, most of all, his real secret weapon is his inherent cleverness that will prove to be more than a match for the labyrinthine twists and turns of a story that is quite literally out of this world.

Mind you, the sci-fi trappings are still there. The small-ish group of colonists on Mars lives within a dome about five kilometers in diameter and about twenty meters tall at its center. The colony exists because of the Gold Rush-like mentality that followed the discovery of Martian fossils, each more precious than the last. A prospector can make a fine living if he finds lithic evidence of early life on the planet, and to make matters worse, there is evidence that a major fossil site had been discovered upon the planet, once, many years ago, and every prospective prospector worth his salt believes he or she can find it.

Thus, the Great Martian Fossil Rush has began. And, while all might be fair in love and war, fossil hunting is downright cruel, and it doesn't hurt to have someone who knows his way around the planet and isn't afraid of a firearm.

And that's where Alex Lomax, Private Eye comes in.

And make no doubt about it: RED PLANET BLUES is a lot of fun. Author Sawyer, who usually writes serious novels about cutting edge conundrums facing us in our near or distant future, has let his creative hair down here. While his stories always are well paced and quick moving, this one really flies by, with a twist or turn in the plot taking place every chapter.

Additionally, the novel is rich in characterization..I really grew to like several characters within, which is usually not a trait of Sawyer, as his focus is rarely on more than the central character and maybe one other. Not so here...his characters are multi-faceted and vital, and there are several I cared deeply about. Alex Lomax is a tough dick with a good heart, and knows how to handle himself. The tale is rich with fistfights, shootouts, double-crosses, and back stabbing.

Science still abounds within this tale: I learned a great deal about the possibilities offered in a low gravity environment, as well as what is possible in Mars' thin atmosphere. (Hint: think airplane--with BIG wings.) As usual, Sawyer thinks out his environment, and his Mars society has life-support tax, airlocks and suit rentals, dune buggies, and a rocket still active decades after it was extremely well hidden.

But more than anything else, this is a fun book. While the author really seems to inhabit the hardboiled detective genre, enjoying his tough talk and muscle-y persona, he particularly displays a real delight with his language, as in "Airplanes on Mars need clear open stretches to touch down, just as they did to take off, and although Isidis Planitia was a plain, it wasn't a plain plain, and landing our plane was going to be a pain."

Another area in which Sawyer's playfulness shines is in his novel's lighthearted use of the transfers, the subject of his rather serious novel Mindscan. It was interesting to see Sawyer have fun with a topic that he had previously plumbed both topically and legally, through an auspicious court case.

To my way of thinking, it's one of the traits that makes Sawyer my favorite sci-fi author. Perhaps he will become yours.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average but okay story 30 April 2013
By Chad Cloman - Published on
"Red Planet Blues" is private-eye-based whodunit with the twist that it takes place on the Mars of the future. For me, the good part of this book wasn't the story line; rather, it was Sawyer's vision of the future.

Human life on Mars is limited to a single, large, domed colony built from native materials by nano-machines. Most everyone there is somehow involved with prospecting, but not for precious metals or gems; instead, they search for Martian fossils which fetch a high price back on Earth. Some people strike it rich, some don't. The colony is owned and maintained by a company on Earth, which puts it outside the realm of government. It's truly a wild frontier.

Much of the story centers around "transfers". Biological humans can have their minds transferred into mechanical bodies, effectively making them immortal. (Note that it's the mind that's transferred, not the brain itself.) These "transfers" are legally and socially considered to be the same person as the original biological human. The process is expensive, however, so not everyone is a transfer.

The writing is good, and the author continues to throw new twists at us while unfolding the big picture.

Overall, I find Red Planet Blues to be an average story, and I give it 3 stars out of 5.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inoffensive 14 Jun 2013
By Alpha - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sawyer is a good writer, but this tale had too many characters coming and going, w/o motivation, and w/o discernable differences. I was unhappy, but did finish it.

Edit: For those who like this genre, see "Altered Carbon"....
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kinda boring 26 May 2013
By Matthew Thomsen - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Clings to the gritty PI genre a bit too stiffly. Uninteresting archeypical characters, none of whom I connected with within the first few chapters.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, might have worked better as short story 15 Jun 2013
By B. Capossere - Published on
Red Planet Blues, by Robert Sawyer, is a sci-fi noir novel a la Raymond Chandler set, unsurprisingly, on Mars. More specifically, in New Klondike, the domed city built during the time of the Great Martian Fossil Rush (thus the name--Klondike), sparked when the pair of explorers who had found "Alpha"--the motherlode of pristine and incredibly rare Martian --died without having revealed the fossil bed's location. The rush was on to be the first to find it, but now, decades later, the rush has petered out and New Klondike is well past its prime, grim and seedy, a perfect setting for a hard-bitten detective to narrate his tale of double-crossers, sharp talking dames, young toughs, lazy and/or corrupt cops, missing husbands, unfaithful wives, murderers and thieves, buxom blondes, spaceships, brain transfers, near-immortal androids, disruptor weapons--all the usual tropes of a Mickey Spillane novel. Well, if it were set in the future on the fourth planet from the sun.

Our private dick narrator is Alex Lomax, who can't seemingly walk into an establishment without being told not to break stuff this time around. Early on he gets a missing husband job from a concerned wife, a stock plot point in this kind of work. The difference here is that the husband and wife are recent "transfers," meaning they've had their minds/consciousness uploaded into an android body and their original bodies destroyed. As is always the case, the missing husband case turns much more complicated, and soon Lomax is caught up in all sorts of intrigue that gets him shot at multiple times and leaves him (and the reader) unsure of whom to trust.

A problem with reading a Chandler-like pastiche is that all too often it leaves one wanting more of the original and less of the pastiche. Another is while all that focus on dames' breasts and pneumatic acts of love has some sort of sense-of-the-times appeal in a classic, when updated into modern form it can simply be off-putting. Which is how I found it here.

The plot of Red Planet Blues was interesting enough (barely), though I'd never call it compelling, but at the end it sort of devolved into one ending after another, with complication atop complication, and a long, far-less-interesting standoff that felt multiple times longer than it needed to be.

Characterization was weak throughout, with nobody really feeling like much more than either a caricature of a noir type or a simple plot prop. That's bad enough in the secondary characters, but when the book is narrated by such a creation, that's a tough obstacle to overcome. I get the whole Chandler-esque thing that Lomax is going for (though we get hit over the head by it a bit with all his references to old movies), but Lomax just never has the charm or three-dimensionality; he never feels more than what he is--a purposeful shadow of a type.

The future setting doesn't add much to the form save for constraining some actions and allowing others, say due to the lessened gravity on Mars, the problems with a non-breathable atmosphere, and the extra-durability of the android bodies (which makes them somewhat bulletproof). In other words, Mars itself never came alive as part of the story. Nor did New Klondike. Sawyer makes some nods to the complex questions surrounding the idea of shifting one's consciousness into a near-immortal body, but those questions are barely raised. Nor was there any sense of a larger context--how has this technology affected society, what is Mars' relationship to Earth, why are the androids (the non-transfer ones) so dumb, and so on.

In the end, I didn't feel like Red Planet Blues justified its length. As a playfully light, tongue-in-cheek pastiche of sci-fi noir, it probably would have worked as a short story, maybe even a long one. But over the course of a novel the shtick gets a bit tiresome, the tropes threadbare, and then it buries itself under the weight of its own self-imposed complexity of plot, trying to spin out one double-cross after another, one standoff after another. Not recommended.
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