Tag: Neo-Noir

Movie Review: The Big Lebowski (1998)

Posted December 20, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Movie-Comedy, Movie-Neo-Noir / 0 Comments

Title: The Big Lebowski
Released: 1998
Director: 
Joel CoenEthan Coen
StarsJeff BridgesJohn GoodmanJulianne MooreSteve BuscemiDavid HuddlestonTara Reid and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Genre: Neo-Noir/Black Comedy

One of my favourite movies of all time is the Coen Brothers 1998 black comedy The Big Lebowski. Most people have seen this film, but if you have not, it tells the story of Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), an LA slacker who finds himself being mistaken for millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston). Thugs break into his house demanding money and urinate on his rug before leaving. Since the rug “really tied the room together” The Dude confronts the millionaire Lebowski seeking compensation. This leads to events that have The Dude searching for Jeffrey Lebowski’s kidnapped wife Bunny (Tara Reid).

This is a complex story to try explain, I did not even mention The Dude’s friends Walter (John Goodman), a unpredictable Vietnam veteran and Timid Donny (Steve Buscemi). Not to mention Jeffery Lebowski’s personal assistant Brandt, played by the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman. There is a lot going on within the film and so much of this is worth talking about. I was drawn to The Big Lebowski at a young age for its humour and quotable lines, but now I see the movie in a completely different light.

the-big-lebowski-rug

The Big Lebowski is loosely based on The Big Sleep, a great film noir movie which is in turn based on the Raymond Chandler novel with the same name. In a 1998 interview with Indiewire, Joel Coen said, “We wanted to do a Chandler kind of story – how it moves episodically, and deals with the characters trying to unravel a mystery, as well as having a hopelessly complex plot that’s ultimately unimportant.” I know there are even scenes that pay homage to The Big Sleep (which starred Humphrey Bogart) found in this film but I need to do a rewatch of the classic film to compare. However there are also references to the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland in the movie.

First of all, both The Dude and Alice has similar carefree lives, and they both take a drug that makes them smaller. The similarities do not stop there, Jeffery Lebowski wife’s name is Bunny and the numberplate on her car reads ‘Lapin’ which is the French word for rabbit. You could even compare Walter and Donny to The Walrus and the Carpenter, maybe Maude Lebowski is The Red Queen and Jackie Treehorn is The Mad Hatter, you probably can go on and on making comparisons to the two movies.

However the comparison to The Big Sleep is what interests me the most. Despite the comedy and the colourful aesthetic, The Big Lebowski pays homage to film noir in multiple occasions. The movie makes multiple references to tropes often found in film noir, such as a fall guy, a double cross, a ringer and so on. Do I even have to mention the fact that this film is even set in Los Angeles? Film noir was the result of America’s post-war (World War II) affection for morbid drama, having The Big Lebowski set in post-gulf war time as a similar effect; although America’s involvements in the Middle East were far from over.

Interestingly enough The Big Lebowski was a commercial failure, it only become a cult classic after 9/11. I do believe that the anti-war messages found in this film might have something to do with this. Especially the rants that Walter says about defending his country and what it means to be a Vietnam veteran. This film talks a lot about war almost predicting the state America would be in with their involvement in the Middle East. Something about the way deals with this real issue and the humour seems to speak to fans.

war - the big lewbowski

This movie even sparked its own religion, Dudeism, which is actually a registered religion in America; the official name is The Church of the Latter-Day Dude. It is a modern day interpretation of Taoism based on the philosopher of The Dude. Though considered more of a philosophical and lifestyle movement about going with the flow, or remaining cool headed. Rewatching The Big Lebowski reminded me why I love this movie, plus gave me a whole new appreciation for this cult classic.


Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

Posted May 13, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Dystopia, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Shovel Ready by Adam SternberghTitle: Shovel Ready (Goodreads)
Author: Adam Sternbergh
Published: Hachette, 2014
Pages: 256
Genres: Dystopia
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

He is only known as Spademan, former garbage man in New York City – that was until a terrorist attack on Times Square killed his wife. Now he is taking out more than trash; a gun for hire, he will do your bidding as long as you are willing to pay. “I don’t want to know your reasons. I don’t care. Think of me as a bullet. Just point.” Shovel Ready is a fast paced science fiction thriller set in the wasteland, which use to be known as New York City.

Adam Sternbergh combines his favourite parts of neo-noir, cyberpunk and science fiction and mashes them all together to make an action novel that is crying out for a movie adaptation. Shovel Ready is so dialogue heavy that one might think it is written in a way that could be converted into a screenplay without any effort. Only problem with this is the publisher’s choice to leave out quotation marks. I hate when they do this and in a book with so much dialogue it really can be a deterrent.

Spademan is a strong protagonist, an anti-hero with strength, wit and his own set of morels. “I kill men and I kill women because I don’t discriminate. I don’t kill children because that’s a different kind of psycho.” I understand why he turns from killer to protector of his target, the runaway daughter of a wealthy US televangelist. However something didn’t sit right; a hitman is often an unemotional, uncompromising character but Spademan wasn’t. He reads like a psychopath but then every so often his actions feel uncharacteristic and that really throws me out of the novel.

Take out Spademan and just look at the world Sternbergh has created and you won’t be left wondering where he drew inspiration from. This world feels like Bladerunner and the virtual reality world know as the limnosphere reminds me of The Matrix mixed with Surrogates. In fact, it feels like the author borrowed so much from different science fiction movies and novels it is hard to pick an original thought.

When reading Shovel Ready everything whisks along and the reader never has time to stop and think about anything. I really enjoyed the novel but once I finished reading it I noticed just how much was borrowed from other mediums. I do, however, wonder if Shovel Ready was really trying to explore the issue of social disengagement that our world is heading towards but during the reading of this novel I never picked up anything so in depth.

For a fast paced science fiction/action novel, then Shovel Ready is the book for you. I do believe the film rights have already been acquired and we may see an adaptation. Adam Sternbergh is also working on a second Spademan novel and I’ll probably read it. Despite all the flaws, it was a fun, quick read and I did enjoy the experience; it was only after I got mad. Don’t expect anything deep or life altering in Shovel Ready but sometimes you just need some light entertainment.


Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted November 24, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

Moon over Soho by Ben AaronovitchTitle: Moon over Soho (Goodreads)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant #2
Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Published: Orion, 2011
Pages: 396
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Constable Peter Grant is back and this time he suspects sorcery in Soho. Jazz musicians in the area are dying; brains scans show they have been magically drained. When the girlfriend of one of the victim’s ends up in bed with Peter, complications are ensured. DCI Nightingale is still recovering so it is up to Peter Grant to handle this one alone.

One of the things I loved about the first book in this series, Rivers of London, was the fact that Peter Grant was a new police officer and new to wizardry. Moon over Soho is a natural progression from that; except that Peter Grant has improved in leaps and bounds. There are still mistakes being made but he is starting to come into his own element, it is like watching him grow as a character.

I’m not sure why the humour has been scaled back in this series but the urban fantasy style seems to be well established and I’m excited to read book three. The series is starting to give Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files a run for his money. While not as dark, the London setting and humour in all its nuance makes for a fantastic read. Ben Aaronovitch’s series may in some parts feel very similar to other urban fantasy novels; I’m impressed with the way he stands apart from the others.

I want to say it is the real English flavour that makes this series enjoyable; I love that style of crime and comedy. This could be because more urban fantasy novels are set in an American or fantastical setting. The uniqueness of the style makes this feel fresh, and then you get all those tropes from urban English novels thrown in as well, like slang.

When it comes to plot, the novel is pretty standard in relation to urban fantasy. I think the characters, the setting and humour is what makes this novel and series interesting. I was in a reading slump when I worked my way through this book. I tried it as a way to break the slump; I was able to read and enjoy the novel but never got out of my slump.

Unfortunately I’m still in a slump, but reading this novel was fun and entertaining. I’m almost tempted in reading book three just to work my way out of the slump. I will talk more about slumps later but reading books like this might do the trick in breaking my reading problems. Peter Grant is a fun character and the series is really enjoyable, I can’t wait to read more.


Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Posted April 5, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

Fool Moon by Jim ButcherTitle: Fool Moon (Goodreads)
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #2
Published: Roc, 2001
Pages: 421
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only professional wizard, so when another unusual murder happens it’s not surprised that Dresden will be dragged into the middle of it. Lt. Murphy calls on Dresden when a henchman is found murdered near a group of wolfish paw prints. A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses and the first two don’t count…

Shortly following the events from Storm Front, Dresden is back to save Chicago from yet another evil force. You get the idea of how this series is structured but while this is purely escapist fiction there is something about these novels that makes me want to keep reading. While I’ve always said I’m not a fantasy fan, I do like the urban fantasy/noir style novels and Harry Dresden is probably the best protagonist I’ve found in these books.

With a new monster, it does not mean that this book will be exactly the same as the previous but the plot style does seem very much so, but it is developing characters that really stuck with me. There is this hidden desire within Dresden to use dark magic, almost like an inner sociopath just waiting to be unleashed. This is what attracts me to these series the most; I’m just waiting to see what other dark secrets we can discover about Harry Dresden while he battles the inner turmoil between good and evil.

The growing relationships between journalist Susan and Murphy are coming along nicely as well, I’m expecting one or both of these relationships to combust and I like the fact that Jim Butcher has let this slowly develop without playing his cards too soon. As for the plot; this is pretty average. Comparing Fool Moon with Storm Front, I can say this is the weaker of the two and I hope that Jim Butcher does offer something a little more in the series or I don’t think I will make it through all of them.

In between reading Storm Front and Fool Moon I watched the 2007 TV adaptation of the series which don’t seem to have any connection to the novels apart from the characters, but now I can’t help but think of Harry Dresden as looking like Paul Blackthorne. Its weird to have an English man, play a Chicago wizard in a Canadian TV show, but I think he portrayed Dresden so well that he is who I picture when reading Fool Moon.

I hope book three, Grave Peril is an improvement and offers something for me to keep reading. I don’t mind a bit of escapist fiction after reading something overly deep or dense. I have Grave Peril on my shelf so I will give it a go but if it is too much like Fool Moon, I think this is where I will leave the series. I don’t want to invest in another twelve books if it offers nothing more than just a new book, new villain situation.


Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Posted March 27, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Altered Carbon by Richard K. MorganTitle: Altered Carbon (Goodreads)
Author: Richard K. Morgan
Series: Takeshi Kovacs #1
Published: Del Rey, 2002
Pages: 526
Genres: Pulp, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In the twenty-fifth century, technology has advanced so much that human personalities can be digitally stored on what is known as a Stack. These stacks can be downloaded into new bodies or sleeves, so when you die your stack can be stored indefinably and you can be resleeved and continue living. Death is virtually impossible, when Laurens Bancroft commits suicide (destroying his stack) he is resleeved from a backup, he has no memory of his actions but believe this was an actual murder attempt. He hires Takeshi Kovacs to investigate his death and find out what happened in those 48 hours between his last back up and suicide.

Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk hard-boiled novel that really reminds me of When Gravity Fails, they have similar genre style and while both of them have a completely different feel to them, both well worth reading. Takeshi Kovacs is a former United Nations Envoy; an elite solider whose last death was a particularly painful one. He finds himself being resleeved one hundred and eighty light years from home back on earth.  Without time to deal with his own issues, he is thrown in to solve this dark and disturbing conspiracy.

In this dystopian like future, death is never something to fear, a resleeving will fix things and if you have the money you can put yourself into a better body at any time. If someone is murdered they are resleeved to testify of the crime. This makes the Catholics a popular target for murder, as they have arranged not to be resleeved if they die so their souls can go to heaven instead. The reason I bring this up is to give you an idea of what the world is like in Altered Carbon. In fact there is a subplot involving the UN altering its legal position to authorise the temporary resleeving of a Catholic murder victim to testify in her murder trial.

I was eager to pick up this book as I’ve heard so many great things about it and I love the idea of a good cyberpunk hardboiled novel; it reminds me of Blade Runner and how much I loved that movie as a kid. Technology has advanced so much in this word but people haven’t, there are still divisions between the classes, races and religions. Mankind has not evolved at all, they have just found a way to cater to their vanity as well as immortality.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan is one hell of a journey; there are all these little plot threads blended together with the real story arch to help build this dark and gritty future. Being the winner of the Philip K Dick award for best novel in 2003  told me that not only was it going to be a great science fiction novel but winning this award meant there will be some interesting ideas that will stick with the reader well after finishing the book. Like Philip K Dick, Morgan has put a lot of thought into his future and came up with a great concept that really works.

I’m so impressed with Altered Carbon I’m thinking about reading the rest of the series; only problem is I’ve heard the other books don’t really work in the same way. So I would love to know of more cyberpunk hardboiled novels worth reading; I think When Gravity Fails is probably the only other one I’ve really read and enjoyed. I know people will probably tell me Snow Crash or even The Diamond Age and yes, I will get to those books eventually. But I’m sure there are plenty of great books in the style out there.

I’m so happy to have finally read Altered Carbon; there is so much in this book we can talk about. I have avoided the main story line in the hopes that I’ve left this review relatively spoiler free. I would love to talk more of the world and the concept of resleeving but  most of my readers may not have read this book yet. For fans of science fiction and even crime novels, don’t be scared of Altered Carbon; it is worth your time and effort.


The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher

Posted March 11, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction, Thriller / 0 Comments

The Age Atomic by Adam ChristopherTitle: The Age Atomic (Goodreads)
Author: Adam Christopher
Series: Empire State #2
Published: Angry Robot, 2013
Pages: 416
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Empire State is dying due to the fissure connecting this reality to New York disappearing. The populace is in a panic, demanding the return of prohibition and rationing of energy. Meanwhile in 1954 New York there has been a dynamic political change. A new group called Atoms for Peace are preparing a robot army for a trans-dimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.

Private Investigator Rad Bradley is back in the sequel to Empire State. This time the twisted parallel prohibition-era New York City is falling apart and a robot army are planning to invade. Adam Christopher spent a lot of time building this amazing inter-dimensional city with some wacky atomic age technology and doppelgangers; in Empire State he has this brilliant tech noir story happening which I really enjoyed. But then we get to The Age Atomic and all noir elements have gone and the plot just feels like a generic atomic age thriller.

The world building he has done to give up this trans-dimensional New York is great and Rad Bradley is a wonderful character, so I can understand why he would want to stay in this world. I just think I was expecting another neo-noir type novel but was left we a pretty average science fiction thriller. The term ‘killing your darlings’ is often used and I’m wondering if Christopher should have just used the same world and created new characters. The return of Rad Bradley (an obvious homage to Ray Bradbury) just meant I expected more hard-boiled adventures from him.

I love this world but I’m very disappointed with the way this book turned out, I think Adam Christopher has the skills and tools to write great alternative reality or neo-noir novels but for me I think the genre switch left me dissatisfied. I recommend you read Empire State and if you are planning to continue to series, be warned, it’s not the same. I’m pleased to see that Adam Christopher added his writing and editing soundtrack again. This book could have been better, I will have to check out WorldBuilder again and see what other people have done with this world, since that is the most interesting part of the whole book.


The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams

Posted February 23, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad WilliamsTitle: The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Goodreads)
Author: Tad Williams
Series: Bobby Dollar #1
Published: Hodder, 2012
Pages: 416
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Bobby Dollar is an angel, his role here on earth is to advocate for the souls caught between heaven and hell. As a result of this, Bobby knows about sin, in fact, he wrestles with a few himself; pride, lust and anger. Whether it’s pride or just instinct, Dollar can’t trust his superiors or his fellow earth bound angels so when souls start disappearing, things are bound to get bad; end of the world bad.

Like the Dresden Files, The Dirty Streets of Heaven blends urban fantasy with hard-boiled crime. Bobby Dollar is a great character, but while he isn’t fully hard-boiled he plays the role really well. I don’t think I would want him to be more hard-boiled; as an angel he does need to have a bit of a moral compass and he does have to try to be good, so in this aspect I think Tad Williams got the balance right.

I’ve never been much for fantasy novels, but I really like these urban fantasy novels that take old hard-boiled and noir styles and blend it; I just can’t get enough of them. I believe this is Tad Williams first attempt at this genre but he has done this masterfully; the conflict between heaven and hell with Bobby Dollar and not knowing who to trust makes this novel. I will admit the Angel and Demon warfare aspect of this book is what I enjoyed the most; Williams added some interesting concepts and blended some theology in as well and I think it balanced out nicely.

I wasn’t sure if The Dirty Streets of Heaven was going to turn out anything like Dogma or The Dresden Files, but I think the author took parts of both that he liked and made it his own. It’s dark and gritty, fully of sex and violence but there is also pop culture references and humour with this book. The humour within this book was great; it didn’t over shadow the darkness of the novel and often came unexpectedly.

“You show me what someone listens to; I’ll tell you everything you want to know about his soul. (For instance, a bunch of Nickelback albums would have indicated he never had a soul in the first place.)”

I’m pleased this is the first book in a new series for Tad Williams; currently there are another two in the works and I am excited to be thrown back into this world. The more I discover these Urban Fantasy Noir novels, the more I want to read them; I really should read some more from the Dresden Files while I wait for book two. Does anyone have any recommendations for books like this, because I really enjoyed this book, more than I ever expected.


Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted January 8, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

Rivers of London by Ben AaronovitchTitle: Rivers of London (Goodreads)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant #1
Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Published: Orion, 2011
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Probationary Constable Peter Grant has big dreams to become a real detective in the London police  but has found himself as part of the Case Progression Unit, doing paperwork while his friend Lesley May has landed her dream job. But one unexpected encounter finds him being recruited into a small branch that deals with the supernatural.

At first glance this urban fantasy novel sounds very much like the Dresden Files series and it is; but there is a bigger injection of humour in this series that makes it very enjoyable. The humour is really what makes this novel, it’s funny and at times unexpected; for example the desire to motorboat a river goddess doesn’t occur to everyone does it? Constable Grant is a great character at times, he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but what do you expect? Becoming the first apprentice wizard in fifty years doesn’t happen every day and it really helps drive him.

Unlike Harry Dresden, Peter Grant is still very new to wizardry and being a detective so he doesn’t have the years of experience and cynicism behind him, which at times can be a little disappointing but for the humour element, it seems to work best. The case that this book is centred around isn’t too well explained so I felt a little lost at times and often questioned the character’s ability to draw conclusions without any information at all. But in the end this is just a fun read.

I will admit when I finished reading this book I immediately wanted to start reading book two which is a good sign of how much I enjoyed this book. I even wanted to read some more from the Dresden Files series but as always I moved onto something completely different. The desire to read the next book is still there and I’m really looking forward to immersing myself into this world again. It was a fun, pleasurable read and I think might make for some good comic relief after reading a dense novel.


The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Posted January 4, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction / 0 Comments

The Last Policeman by Ben H. WintersTitle: The Last Policeman (Goodreads)
Author: Ben H. Winters
Series: Last Policeman #1
Published: Quirk, 2012
Pages: 316
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

If a huge asteroid was heading towards earth threating to destroy all mankind, what would you do? Would you even bother to continue working? Would you worry about solving a crime? Detective Hank Palace is determined to solve a suspicious suicide even when the rest of the world doesn’t care in this apocalyptic whodunit, making him The Last Policeman.

I love the idea of blending apocalyptic fiction with a pulp type crime novel. The world is in decline and Hank Palace has only just made detective. So without anyone else caring about this crime, why would he spend so much time trying to prove himself as a homicide detective? This really is the driving force of this book; you are always questioning the motivation of Palace when the rest of the world wants to live life to its fullest.

Personally I would have liked to see Hank to be a bit more hard-boiled but the idea of being a newbie to the force wanting to prove himself was pretty enjoyable. He was a little unsure and sometimes too timid but he never gave up. I would have loved to see more depth to the character but as this is a planned trilogy I think the author is saving some more for the next two books. Unfortunately all the others are just background characters and they never had the development they deserved. I think this might have been just a lack of experience from author Ben H. Winters; best known for his mash up novels Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina.

The crime itself was pretty straight forward and even predictable but the problems with solving the case was trying to do it without any forensic or police help, so I feel like I can forgive Winters for this. Then there is the subplot which forces more on the apocalyptic struggle to try and survive aspects. I felt like this was the biggest let down of the book, I know he wanted to help his sister but as a reader I felt like it was just fleshing out the novel and trying to make sure it’s at least 300 pages long.

I’m interested to see what author Ben H. Winters does with this trilogy; I’m hoping he grows as a writer and incorporates more pulp elements in the next two books. Detective Palace has real potential as a protagonist; he has some appeal to him already but with some development he could be great. I like the Science-Fiction pulp mash-up and I hope this continues, Winters has a great idea here and with some love and hard work this will turn out to be a great trilogy.


Empire State by Adam Christopher

Posted July 4, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Empire State by Adam ChristopherTitle: Empire State (Goodreads)
Author: Adam Christopher
Series: Empire State #1
Published: Angry Robot, 2012
Pages: 445
Genres: Pulp, Science Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

During the last great superhero fight, a blast of energy rips a hole in reality, the result is Empire State; a twisted parallel prohibition-era New York City. But now the rift is starting to close and both parallel worlds have to fight for the right to exist. Adam Christopher’s Empire State tells the story of Rad Bradley a private detective investigating the disappearance for Sam Saturn which leads him to uncover something a whole lot bigger. This book is everything you expect in a pulp style superhero novel; you have the super villains, airships, robots, organised crime and prohibition (to make it feel more like a pulp novel). This is all a brilliant back drop for the main plot; the case the gets Rad Bradley tangled in a complex web of robotic killers, inter-dimensional doppelgangers and science.

The whole tone of this book feels very much like a superhero novel but never loses sight of the noir style narrative. The whole story cast is wonderfully unique and mystery that will keep the readers on the edge of their seats while reading this book. There are some things that didn’t quite work within the story and the constant world shifting can get the reader lost. I think in the end there turns out to be at least three different worlds; Prohibition New York, Empire State and New York 1950’s. The world, the crime and the characters show potential for a lot of great stories to follow.

Adam Christopher and publisher Angry Robot Books have invited others to create works based in the world of Empire State. Writer, artist, musician, sculptor, puppeteer, interpretive dance major, or poet, are invited to create their own stories with what they are calling WorldBuilder as long as you stick to their Guidelines and Instructions. They are authorising fan-created content to be created under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License which means content can be posted on the internet or beyond as long as it’s in a non-commercial way; publication rights of the stories are still in the hands of the publisher. There are plans for an eBook or Print-on-Demand anthology of the best stories which is pretty exciting; I’ve never seen a novel do anything like this, making for some interesting stories to follow. I think this world is capable of millions of other great stories whether superhero, science fiction, alternate history, organised crime or even pulp stories.

I’m curious to see what the results of this creative common might lead to but as for this book, if you want a fun, exciting novel with twists and mystery, then you really should give Empire State ago. There’s a certain uniqueness within this book while remaining familiar with the writing style. I feel nostalgic towards a good pulp novel and this blends that with science fiction elements with such ease. This genre is often called neo-noir (a genre that blends pulp with updated themes, content, or style, often blended with Science Fiction) and there have been some great books that have come out in this style, but Empire State is definitely one of the better ones.