John Scalzi has a regular feature on his blog called “The Big Idea“, wherein writers can do a guest column about their latest books, describing the “big idea” behind them. It’s really kewl, and allows one to peep behind the book cover into the mysterious workings of authors as they view their books. I’ve gotten a few of the books listed, and enjoyed many of them.
One that sounded interesting was a SF book named Red, where the heroine–working for a multi-government police force in the future–was investigating the mysterious vicious murder of a girl. The premise was, “What if Little Red Riding Hood went looking for the wolf–and discovered it was herself?” It promised hawt werewolf sex and a mystery, and when I saw it in the airport bookstore while waiting for my flight to Phoenix, I promptly remembered the blog post and decided to give it a whirl.
Yannow, hawt werewolf sex can be overrated. Just sayin’.
Red, like Snow Crash (yesterday’s post), is set in a future world where the U.S. and other governments have been rent asunder. Whereas Snow Crash’s world was an amusing melange of corporate franchises running urban and suburban enclaves, Red’s world is a post-global-warming desert where water is a precious commodity and people live in collective apartments in domes erected to collect and hold moisture.
Or do they? Because most of the action in Red is centered in a small, dusty desert town located near ancient Phoenix, where everyone’s living quarters seem to be in separate houses separated by streets that tumbleweeds spin down.
Then there’s the question of the “Others”, fabled genetically engineered soldiers from the Last War. Are the “Others” a mysterious, mythical story believed by some but scoffed at by most? This is one presentation in the book.
Do they need to hide out in a small, dusty desert town, carefully not revealing their real essence, for fear of being victims of a bloodbath? This is another presentation in the book.
Or are they well-enough known to be the rallying cry for the election campaign of a racist pedagogue trying to gain chairmanship of the world council, as in “Let’s clean up our neighborhood and get the Others out!”?
Um, yeah. This is, IMO, a serious problem with the book. Either the Others (genetically engineered werewolves, vampires, and what-not) are well-enough known to be the stand-ins for the U.S. right’s illegal immigrant campaign, or they’re shadowy, mysterious, mythological, and laughed off. They can’t be both.
Then there’s the fact that this racist pedagogue is paying (blackmailing?) a werewolf into giving in to his hunter instincts so that he can drum up the pogrom against werewolves…the werewolves who are (supposedly) just a legend.
He’s also got a blackmailed vampire on his staff. At least, I think the vampire is blackmailed, because otherwise I can’t see why he’d be on RP’s staff.
To top it all off, everyone in the book talks about their “rest pad”. Dammit, I know humanity, and know darned well that even if the gummint called the standard issue thing a “rest pad”, the citizenry would call it a “bed”. Or, if “bed” were a verboten word, they’d come up with a slangy name, like “arpie”. Or something.
There were some good spots, but the howlers in the overarching structure of the book just made me read with a totally snarkerrific viewpoint. And the hawt werewolf sex scenes relied too much on phrasing like “she felt his throbbing c0ck pressing against her”, which didn’t do a damned thing for me.
Alas, I give the book an emphatic thumbs down. If you must read it, get it from the library, don’t spend your own money.