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Hammered (Jenny Casey) Mass Market Paperback – 28 Dec 2004
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"Very exciting . . . very impressive debut."--Mike Resnick"A gritty and painstakingly well-informed peek at a future we'd all better hope we don't get . . . Elizabeth Bear builds her future nightmare tale with style and conviction and a constant return to the twists of the human heart."--Richard Morgan "Drugs, gangs and internet warfare run rampant . . . [an] ambitious debut novel."--Publishers Weekly
From the Inside Flap
Once Jenny Casey was somebody's daughter. Once she was somebody's enemy. Now the former Canadian special forces warrior lives on the hellish streets of Hartford, Connecticut, in the year 2062. Racked with pain, hiding from the government she served, running with a crime lord so she can save a life or two, Jenny is a month shy of fifty, and her artificially reconstructed body has started to unravel. But she is far from forgotten. A government scientist needs the perfect subject for a high-stakes project and has Jenny in his sights. Suddenly Jenny Casey is a pawn in a furious battle, waged in the corridors of the Internet, on the streets of battered cities, and in the complex wirings of her half-man-made nervous system. And she needs to gain control of the game before a brave new future spins completely out of control.See all Product description
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Except the author, having come up with those ideas, isn’t actually interested in them. This is a book focused on emotions, and emotions of an especially overheated sort. And they kind of just hang in space, not rooted in action or event. All the other characters think the cyborg heroine is utterly wonderful, but you are never told why. She develops this super-intense relationship with her saviour/boyfriend but it is just there, never explained or filled-out. And what is so terrible about her ex-boss, the evil thing that causes her to so loathe him? It’s all like this. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that while this book is notionally character-driven, there is actually very little characterisation: I finished it with no real sense of any of them, really. Add the fact that the writing is relentlessly but unnecessarily oblique (at times you have to focus hard to establish simple plot points, like WHERE THEY ARE) and you have a book that fails to tick the very boxes it draws up – especially since the interesting bits, the conspiracy, the revenge story, are casually finished off, tucked into a corner like inconveniences.
I suspect a lot of this is due to gender. This sets out to be more a bodice-ripper than a thriller. From that point of view, the overheated emotion doesn’t have to be plausible or explained, it is the POINT, the thing the author wants to get TO, and so is its own justification. It doesn’t help that the story, so slow to develop, ends before it has really started (rather, it just stops, inviting you to buy the next book). I genuinely do not know where I am supposed to find the pleasure in this novel. If you are into this emotionally-based stuff, it is probably great. If not, then you, like me, might find it a bit bewildering.
I enjoyed reading this book and I thought that it was full of excellent ideas but it is the first in a series and not everything is explained in this volume. That meant that there were times that I didn't understand what was going on because the author had not yet given me the information I needed. I usually find this way of writing unhelpful and often boycott the rest of the series in a type of protest but I did find that there was enough here to keep me engaged and to make me want more.
An elderly (50ish) heroine has been partially rebuilt as a cyborg (after an unfortunate accident with a helicopter and a shotgun) but with all the aches and pains of old(ish) age, and gets involved with a sinister Government agency, trying to outdo the Chinese to build a starship.
Elements of sci-fi (Alien technology) merge easily with tales of a world of gangsters, crumbling society and the occasional love affair. Oh, and Clarke's famous space elevators get a look in... very popular in sci-fi these days.
Lots of fun - lots of blood and gore - and an Artifical Intelligence who (I think) embodies the late, great Richard Feynman's brain and soul... What more could you want? Oh yes, a gangster who has had his teeth replaced by razor blades... Of course!
Highly recommended (like all Elizabeth Bear's books).
You wont be disappointed in any of the books in the series.