Monday, June 06, 2005


What a breath of fresh air.

Alex de Campi has given us a vivid, intriguing new story that is refreshingly different from the current zeitgeist.

Smoke is the story of Rupert Cain, a good soldier who has not been repaid in kind for the sacrifices he has made. He is a pawn in the high-stakes game of a very corrupt government, but he is a dangerous pawn -- he is a government assassin. Cain is very good at what he does, but what he does is soul-killing and he knows it. When his mentor turns up dead, it's enough to shake him out of the unthinking rut he's put himself in.

If Transmetropolitan had been a political thriller, it may have ended up something like this. And I mean that as a compliment. De Campi has created a story that is very much a part of the Transmet, V for Vendetta, and Invisibles vibe -- a Britcentric universe that is too fantastic to be realistic, but in which we can recognize so much of our own politics and society. There are more direct comparisons, especially with the freaks and failures who populate the Walled City, the press shenanigans, the thoroughly rotten government and monarchy, and the general distrust and distaste of the gentry, but never to the point where it feels stolen.

Read the rest here


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really? I usually find your criticism to be spot-on... but this book, I found sorely disappointing. The vision of the future felt intellectually bereft... the work of a writer who admired the surface gloss of something like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, while lacking the rage, the focus and the heart which make the best of Ellis's near futures "click." I recently watched DEATH RACE 2000 again and was pleasantly surprised by its wickedly sharp wit, balanced by its honest sense of outrage and horror directed at the targets of its vicious sarcasm. I was hoping for something like that from SMOKE. Instead, I got a random grab bag of "cool weirdness in the near future" -- informed neither by a deeply imagined sense of how the world could turn out (e.g., Bladerunner), nor by a sense of absurdity directed by larger satirical intentions (see Brazil). The sharpest thing about the whole book was its cover -- which we all know now was ripped off wholesale from graffitti/art prankster Banksy. However, it was pleasant to see Igor Kordey vindicated. He always said his highest-profile Marvel work was his most-rushed, and that he felt like he'd been punished for being the only artist that Marvel could count on to meet a deadline.

Tue Jun 07, 05:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

It is pricey, but there is a chance to win it if you enter the contest the Isotope is holding. I know I sent my e-mail in:

Tue Jun 07, 10:14:00 PM EDT  

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