K.W. Jeter crossbreeds "cyberpunk" SF with visceral horror--as in his early Dr Adder
which was written in 1972 before cyberpunk emerged, praised by Philip K. Dick, and too over-the-top to be published until 1984. Noir
is distantly linked to Dr Adder
, but stands alone. A dark novel of corporate tyranny, layered betrayals, bad sex and literal hell on earth, it has an icy glitter of wit too black to be funny. Copyright-breaking is the ultimate crime: violators suffer eternal punishment, with their brain-matter plumbed into domestic appliances. Death is, likewise, no release for the debt-ridden as they are mechanically reanimated to work off financial obligations. Homeless folk have sheltering carapaces welded to their flesh so they can curl up like woodlice in the street. Antihero McNihil, a kind of private eye with retinas rewired to show reality as a period black-and-white movie rather than the world's actual ugliness, is coerced by the monstrous DynaZauber corporation into undertaking a heavily booby-trapped investigation. McNihil can't beat the system, but has an escape plan too nightmarish for sane contemplation... Complex, confusing and sometimes nauseating, Noir
explains some aspects of its ghastly future in detail while others remain obscure; newcomers to SF will find it difficult. But it's undeniably powerful.--David Langford
"Jeter is an exhilarating writer who always seems to have another rabbit to pull out of his hat....[He] accomplishes his goal of updating the genre, and he does so with commendable energy and imagination."
--"The New York Times Book Review"
"A master of dark visions, Jeter delivers his most...ambitious book to date....an SF equivalent, perhaps, of The Name of the Rose."
"From the Paperback edition."