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Customer reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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I am not a great advocate of science fiction. Anything can happen and in most poorly written books, it does. To me this book has a great idea behind it but that ideal of a parallel city New York/Empire State gets lost and the book becomes so confusing, So confusing that even the author gets the name wrong in the early part of the book replacing Rex with rad when, at that time Rad isn't involved in the book. Or was it the other way round?

To me the book is in two halves. The first half held my attention but the second half was where confusion reigns. There double crosses and double double crosses. You try to work out who the good guys are and then you have to work it out again.

There are so many loose ends and so many issues which do not add up. I didn't give up on the book but only because I had 70 a pages to go, if it had been more then this book would have been on its way to the charity shop early on.

Regret it wasn't for me. i like my stories to be straightforward and page turners, This was neither.
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on 13 April 2012
The multiple worlds that Adam Christopher has created for this book are genuinely unique and interesting places in which all manner of exciting tales could be told, but unfortunately this book is not one of them.

Three quarters of the book are taken up with clumsy exposition about the setting - pages and pages of characters literally explaining to the central character how the multiple worlds work - and the remaining quarter is filled with confusing and nonsensical action. The central character is supposed to be a private detective who is the key to an inter-dimensional plot, but he never does any detective work, and just gets dragged dumbly along, never doing anything to advance a story that in truth could have carried on quite well with out him.

The conclusion is supposed to be an exciting series of crosses and double crosses, but none of the characters' behaviour makes any sense, the betrayals being present more because the author felt they were required of the genre rather than because they had anything to do with the motives on the characters. I kept expecting a clever twist at the end that would suddenly make the rest of the book make sense, but when in came to the final page I was just left disappointed.

Ultimately Empire State is an ambitious attempt to cross multiple genres, but sadly it fails to satisfy in any of them. Disappointing.

(Also - why is the main character so obsessed with his hat?)
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In his office, a shabby, former hotel room, lit by the orange glare from the street sits PI Rad Bradley, waiting for his next client. At the back of the office is the tiny bedroom where Rad sleeps. Hidden in a basement nearby is Jerry's, the speakeasy where hespents his spare time. Welcome to the Empire State, a twisted projection of 1930s New York, isolated in its own "pocket universe" and created when... but that would be a spoiler.

Christopher's novel flits back and forth between Empire State and New York proper - a New York where superheroes battle amidst the mobsters and corrupt judges. As if the Chandleresque PI and superheroes weren't enough, theer are alsob robots, goggles, airships and fog. It's kind of SF-ish, noir steampunk-lite, if you're trying to find the right pigeonhole - but I don't think one really exists. All of which gives the book, especially the first half, a wonderful atmosphere, as Rad investigates a case brought to him (of couse) by a smartly turned out young woman - but with a twist I won't, again, give away. Cue a breakneck trip through the murky world of the Empire State, confused by (and intercut with) those superheroes, a shady preacher, hoodlums in gas masks and a great deal else.

It's enchanting, wonderful, and the pages keep turning. However, I was disappointed by the ending. As in an Agatha Christie story, pretty much everyone is gathered together (albeit in a Government warehouse, not a cosy library). In around 20 pages, plot is explained, alliances are made, broken and reformed and characters clash in various combinations. It was all a bit too much, a bit too intense; some of these characters are hard to tell apart - again, I won't say why (spoilers!) and, by the time I reached the end, I felt I'd lost most of my sense of what had really been going on. A degree of double (and triple) crossing and confusion is one thing, but I just wasn't convinced by all the twists and turns.

That aside, this is an atmospheric, enthralling and (in places) funny book - there is a running joke about Rad losing his hat, which might not sound funny, but by the end, is - and lots of allusions to pulp classics. But for the ending, I'd give this four stars rather than three - despite that, this is well worth a read.
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on 4 April 2012
If you've never read a steampunk novel, a graphic novel or seen the movie Dark City you may enjoy this book.
I thought the characters were one dimensional (ironic given the nature of the story). The rules of the author's world were conveniantly broken which ended up having a detrimental effect (why didn't the same thing happen to all the characters that travelled between the cities?).Combined with a typo that gave away a significant plot point made this a disappointing read, great cover though.
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This book has a great premise, but is ruined by being populated by utterly unlike-able protagonists and having most of the action set in a world that is, by definition, very flat and lifeless. A ultimately dull read where the main character flops around aimlessly with no real direction and with even the few poorly done action sequences failing to inject any spark. By the end, I had no interest in what would happen to any of the characters.

It has all the right ingredients, but the mix just doesn't come off.
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on 11 May 2013
There are some nice ideas in this story, and some imagery that should, in theory, add up to an innovative addition to the more usual alternate history/sci-fi stuff. Sadly though, Adam Christopher just isn't a good-enough writer to bring it all together in a convincing novel. The narrative is deeply confusing, and characters seem to shift personalities and motives. In the end, the story unravels into a big mess of people running around for no real reason.
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on 17 December 2012
Oh, I wanted to enjoy this. It looked so much like something I would dig. Noir, Chandleresque detectives, golden age super heroics, alternate realities... I despaired when this turned into my slog of the year. The genres are mashed, but not in a smart or invigorating way. They're just mashed. Ground up. Paid lip service, before being poorly implemented in a cliche-ridden way that avoids the heart of each, so that everything becomes tokenistic. The plot makes little sense, even though key characters repeat important plot points numerous times within each chapter so you don't miss them, the alternate reality is boring beyond measure, and the characterisation is hollow. A disappointment.
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on 2 September 2012
Let's get one thing straight, the whole idea about mixing up a Raymond Chandler/Film Noir-style detective story with Science Fiction and a helping of Super-heroics was a great one. No question. It's why I picked up the book in the first place. But sadly it doesn't work. Not because the basic premise is bad, far from it, it's a very good one. It's just badly written. It takes an eternity to get going, the Empire State is poorly described and the central character is unsympathetic. I'd hoped that 'Rad Bradley' was a tip of the hat to 'Slam Bradley', a detective created by Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, the men who gave us 'Superman'. When the owner of the illicit bar that Rad hangs out in is called Jerry, I waited on his partner Joe to turn up. Nope, the interview contained at the back of the book indicates that it was a typo owing more to Sci-Fi author Ray Bradbury. Shame. There are lots of unexplored avenues in this book. Why did the Skyguard and Science Pirate fall out originally? Why does the main villain character 'merge' when everyone else has separate and quite different versions on each side of the 'Fissure'? Why does Rad get caught up in it at all? The last is particularly problematic. We are endlessly told he's pivotal to the whole plot, but actually isn't. He's a passenger. He doesn't do anything of note. The author outlines in an afterword a 'Worldbuilder' project in which he invites, with some strict but understandable provisos, other writers to play in his world. My recommendation would be to go for it. It's an interesting world with a slew of different angles that could be taken. Sadly, none of them are on show here.
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on 25 February 2012
it's New York, and Rad Bradley is a private detective working to survive, as you do. Then he gets assigned a missing person case, and he is pulled into parallel worlds, the future, and many other places he'd rather not be. The aforementioned Parallel World is the Empire State, a very twisted Manhattan. Things will never be the same for Rad again...
It took me quite a bit of trying to get into this. Maybe it didn't help that I started it while in the bar area of the Hammersmith Apollo while whoever was opening for Thin Lizzy was playing. But still, I should have been able to get into this. But it just left me quite confused. I didn't really understand the whole thing concerning the superheroes, ie the Science Pirate and the Skyguard. This does get resolved alter with explanations, but it would have been nice to pick up quicker. The general world building, even of "normal" New York, wasn't very good at all.
I also couldn't really imagine Rad or Rex. Not good when these are the two major characters. This meant I couldn't really visualise lots of things happening, and some things that I could, I just wasn't sure if I was getting the right idea of those things.
Some things I did get though. The four worlds in this book are 20/30s New York (is writing a few days after reading and has forgotten fine details), 50s New York, the Empire State and the Space Beyond. All of these were well imagined and fit together neatly, even if it is very confusing to start with.
And we never get any explanation of why the superheroes exist. That I understood. Don't like that. I did like the time travel elements.
It's a very slow start. The first third, I wasn't sure why I was carrying on reading this, aside from just hoping that something would happen. Luckily, a mystery is built in time for me to stay hooked, developing further on in the book, and it definitely picks up further on in the novel.
2/5 to a promising and actionfilled, but confusing book. If you really do enjoy sci-fi/reading about Manhattan, then you should read this. Otherwise, maybe give this a miss.
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on 26 June 2014
This is steamclunk badly written with no sense of the period and a cliched writing style Avoid at all costs He writes a lot, unfortunately
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