Wednesday 17 July 2013

Nova Swing

(July 2013)
       Three women and one man were picked up two miles from the Café Surf, in the back lot of another bar, where they were apparently trying to have sex with one another. There was some sense they didn’t know how to progress with this but were willing to learn.

Far-future detective fiction. Neon noir; a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of incandescent mists and star-bright shadows. I have no idea what it’s supposed to be about – in fact I rather doubt it’s supposed to be about anything much at all. Don’t let that worry you though, the prose is stunning. Set in the same continuity (though ‘continuity’ is a tricky thing here) as Light, we follow our protagonists as they negotiate the city of Saudade and their lives, and the strange unknowable contusion at the hearts of both. The three-page description of the fight district of Preter Coeur is perhaps the most vital thing I’ve read this year –

       By day the rain blew between the support pillars of its many unwalled sections, through oblique bars of sunlight which fell upon bodies – the lost, the sleeping, the dead… Now it sprang back to life at dusk every day, as big as a city quarter, in business for itself, self-governed, self-policed, self-made, a sprawl of food stalls, flop houses, flea markets, bookmakers, makeshift chopshops and tattoo booths around each ring, trawled by every kind of cultivar and fetch… All this under a mixed illumination of naptha flame or blank interrogatory halogen glare, and everything in between. In Preter Coeur the shadow of the pillar fell on you with the weight of the pillar itself; the next moment you were losing you sense of balance in the unpredictable jump and turn of smoky flickers like shoaling fish…
       Through this flow of light and smoke and people events, which you could describe every instant of, yet never predict its next state, the fighters moved with studied, looming, fuck-off grace, speech reduced by careful tuning of their inboard hormonal patches to the amused, confident, inarticulate growl of those who are invincible at what they do, and will never be less than what you are, and will always be more than you… A day old, if that, and already mythological, already dead.

Style over substance, absolutely. But what style it is.


  1. I need to read more of this. I never got around to writing about Light, but I probably should. Empty Space is allegedly one of last year's best, which means that I should read Nova Swing soon.

    1. Yep, that's the goal. After reading Light back at the start of the year I'm working my way towards Empty Space. Sometime before December, with any luck ;)