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One of Us Paperback – 4 Jan 1999
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If you like the brain-stretching work of William Gibson (author of Neuromancer) and Philip K. Dick (author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?, which was the basis for Blade Runner), you'll feel right at home with this latest futuristic thriller from the author of the well-received Spares (available in paperback). It's 2017, and the first time we meet Hap Thompson he's being hassled in a bar in Ensenada by his alarm clock, which not only talks but walks and has a bad attitude. Hap, a prodigious computer hacker with a pretty bad attitude himself, works for an outfit called REMtemps, which offers a unique service--removing clients' bad dreams by sucking them into the heads of paid professionals. (Could Smith have been influenced at all by the title of one of Dick's best stories, "I Can Dream It for You Wholesale"?) Unfortunately, one of the bad dreams Hap is called on to swallow involves a real murder, and the search for the woman who dreamed it in the first place takes him--and us--on a literally mind-bending journey of scientific and philosophic discovery. But there's plenty of action, gadgetry, and snappy noir dialogue to make it all go down easily. --Dick Adler
Praise for Michael Marshall Smith:
‘Some books stretch the imagination; this one mugs it’
DAVID BADDIEL on Spares
‘A storytelling skill that can only be described as pure genius’
‘Comic, cruel, twisted and surreal’
‘Tense exciting and very, very funny… He’s worth every penny’
‘Smith is a genuine talent to follow’
‘Marks him out as a name to watch’
Top customer reviews
Here, for instance, is a story with an exciting sci-fi premise that in the future people can get paid to temporarily "download" nightmares (or if they want to break the law, they can also download memories). It's a concept just open to abuse, and sure enough our anti-hero has been stung with a memory that he has to return to its owner - memory of a murder. It's a concept good enough to be played straight but Marshall Smith refuses the easy way out. He peppers this book with strange, surreal humour (for instance household appliances that were a little too independent for their own good, like the alarm clock with whom he seems to have a running feud). He fills it out with many refreshingly original details, quirky and strange. It's hard to adequately describe what genre you're really reading. Sci-fi? Suspense? Humour? All of the above?
It's important too not to miss out on Marshall Smith's engaging moments of genuine emotional honesty. It's rare (especially in some science fiction which can be quite dry and stollid) to find someone who can make you stop, hold your breath and take stock of a passage that has just revealled something engagingly truthful about what it is to be a real flesh-and-blood human being. Remarkable and heady stuff.
My only trouble with Marshall Smith is that sometimes the action and suspense are underplayed (the ending seems particularly rushed) but this work is worth every penny of the asking price and more for the sum of its parts and for Marshall Smith's skill in weaving them together. This was my first taste of Michael Marshall Smith's writing and it has led me to buy all the work he has released so far. You won't find many writers like this, and it's well worth coming along for the ride. Trust me. You won't regret it.
I like this author. Alot. I read a paragraph from Spares (his second novel) once in a magazine, and eventually hunted the book down. It was a fantastic litterary experience. Read its reviews and you'll see that other people agree with me.
So then I read his first book, Only Forward. Which was nice. And then I decided to read this.
Now, I really thought I had a handle on Michael Marshall Smith - his books are so surreal it's almost unnerving. Yet again, he got the better of me...
How often have you been speeding away from something at breakneck speed, and have nearly killed yourself because you needed to swerve to avoid a group of toasters who were crossing the road? And how often have you been in the middle of a hopeless gun battle, when the fridge, washing machine and dishwasher come to your aid? Well, they're all normal occurrances in the Los Angeles of Michael Marshall Smith's future. Just don't drink the coffee (read it and you'll know why).
MMS is a master of the first-person storytelling style - so much so you'll think the events are happening to you. If you're like me, and you just love to immerse yourself in a book, get to know your characters, the places, the appliances, you'll love this book.
It'll probably leave you thinking the same as me. I just wish I lived in one of his worlds - though I would just like to sit down occasionally and have a rest. Something you don't often get to do with MMS.
Buy it. Read it. Love it. Then read it again.
What makes this book such a compelling read is the intricate plotting. As each new part of the puzzle is revealed, it's like you are in a maze that keeps restructuring itself. It soon becomes clear that the best thing to do is just hold on and expect absolutely anything.
I feel that Michael Marshall Smith tends to take accepted concepts and ideas, turns them on their heads and then adds liberal doses of the surreal for good measure. This makes for a truly exciting and invigorating reading experience.
There are also some deeply astute observations about the world and human nature in this book. So, as well as everything else, it is also very thought provoking. I really cannot recommend this book highly enough!
The character of Hap is a good one as he is funny and roguish without being annoying. He is loyal to his friends and essentially lives his life by a twisted but moral code. With intelligent white goods and a classic detective story 'One of Us' has a lot to recommend it.
However, by the final part all the good achieved by Marshall Smith is ruined by the confusing nature the book takes. Science Fiction is not the easiest genre to follow at the best of times but 'One of Us' just descends into utter confusion when all I really wanted to know was about the characters' personal experience.
I will read other books Marshall Smith has written as there is plenty of potential here. I have seen that people recommend his earlier books more than this so I must add my voice to this number. A good concept made average by over complication.