Saturday, December 16, 2017

Exploded View by Sam McPheeters review

    EXPLODED VIEW by Sam McPheeters is a neo-noir cyberpunk detective story which tales place in that delightfully sunny and depressed city of Los Angeles in the year 2050. The skyscrapers have been converted into government housing for the poor, television is completely interactive, and everything is watched at all times by the police.

    LAPD Detective Terri Pastuzka is a lesbian and single mother who is suffering a mild case of depression due to the fact her wife has just left her for greener pastures as well as the soul crushing nature of her job. She spends most of her spare time mutilating the Nick and Nora Charles movies in order to make them dirtier as well as darker.

    I like the depiction of Terri and her struggles to make herself care about her life as the broken down detective is a great protagonist for any sort of cyberpunk work. The fact her daughter is acting out for lack of attention (including playing a highly illegal social media-based prank game called "Strangers on a Train") felt realistic for the environment. Her sexuality is treated no differently as any straight man's but worked well in the future environment.

    This isn't an action novel and most of the volume is spent exploring the tech as well as its implications in a poverty-heavy environment. All of the tech seems plausible with a bit of a stretch only for how interactive the programs have become in the future. Really, the most unbelievable element is the idea the United States would open itself up to millions of refugees from the India-China nuclear war.

    I love the vision of 2050 Los Angeles which Sam McPheeters presents and while I wouldn't say it's necessarily plausible like the technology, I will say it's certainly authentic feeling. This is a lived in and dramatic world that does not revolve around our protagonist or the plot. Indeed, solving the murders that our heroine obsesses over will do nothing to make the world a better place. It will just make her sleep better.

    In conclusion, this is an exceptionally good book and should appeal to fans of noir as well as cyberpunk. Terri is an excellent protagonist and I wouldn't be adverse to reading more of her stories as the conflicts within her aren't things that can be resolved overnight--if ever. The real lesson of her latest case wasn't that she had to get over her struggles but they will be there the next day and the next day after.


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