If you’re a child of the 80s, reading Ready Player One is like mainlining heroin-strength nostalgia. It’s so ridiculously fun that I frequently imagined author Ernest Cline giggling and saying to himself, “I can’t believe I’m getting away with this!”
It’s easy to be a hero when you’re saving the entire world or galaxy or species. Which is why the hard-boiled detectives are the most heroic characters out there. They’re not out to ram the bad guy’s spaceship. More likely, they’re trying to find justice for a murdered little nobody, or get an intensely offensive (but innocent) man out of jail.
This dogged deathgrip on principle directs the actions of private detective Conrad Metcalfe in a bizarre future world populated by talking animals, drugs for all, and the most authoritative state I’ve ever come across. It’s dark, funny, fast-paced, clever, and chilling.
Recommendation: Buy it new and place it in a prominent place. I’ve got it on a shelf right over my desk.
We like mystery because life is mysterious, and story-telling exists to help us figure out how to live. Mysteries help us figure out how to deal with the unending avalanche of unknowns in our own lives (probably not directly, unless you deal with dead bodies a lot).
Spin State by Chris Moriarty is a hard sci-fi murder mystery set thousands of years in the future on an alien planet. If you can wade through the tons of jargon in the first chapter of so (I couldn’t on the first reading), it’s a fun ride.
A famous scientist is burnt to a crisp deep within a mine. Tough as hell, severely cybernetically augmented Li and her world-spanning, snarky artificial intelligence ex-lover must figure out why.
I liked the characters, the dark mines where a lot of the action takes places, and enjoyed the fast-paced plot twists, even if I did get lost a few times.
Bottom line recommendation: Buy it used or get it at the library.