Irontown Blues by John Varley Berkley Publishing Group Ace Sci Fi & Fantasy Pub Date 28 Aug 2018
Luna has a thousand faces. Whether you want to live in a 1930s style noir city or a modern metropolis, all is available. If you want to change, lose or add body parts you can. Chris, for his own reasons, and his ultra smart enhanced bloodhound Sherlock run a 1930s style pi office. Most of his business is following cheating spouses until a mysterious woman arrives with a case that if true is a major threat to life on Luna. What ensues is a far more complex case than Chris ever imagined - linked to one of the most terrible times in Luna history. Thankfully he has Sherlock to watch his back.
Part of what makes this novel fascinating is how Varley alternates between Chris and Sherlock’s POVs. Sherlock’s approach is distinctly dog, though his elevated intelligence makes his thoughts accessible. In many ways Sherlock is the stronger partner - his love and support enable Chris to function despite his traumatic past. I applaud Varley for making Chris trans. It isn’t played up or exaggerated, merely accepted that when Chris became a teen she formally switched to he. Irontown Blues wasn’t what I expected it to be, and was all the better for challenging my expectations. Luna is a fascinating, quirky world, and the perfect setting for Varley’s narrative. There are also some extremely fun parts where Sherlock is interacting with other dogs during his search for Chris - I loved those.
Irontown Blues is character driven science fiction with just the right dose of noir. Fresh, unusual, touching and sometimes funny, I highly recommend Varley’s new novel.
5 / 5
I received a copy of Irontown Blues from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Description From a master of science fiction comes a brand-new noir novel set in the Eight Worlds universe, where a detective hunts for the biohackers who have created a dangerous new disease. Christopher Bach was a policeman in one of the largest Lunar cities when the A.I. Lunar Central Computer had a breakdown. Known as the Big Glitch, the problem turned out to be a larger war than anyone expected. When order was restored, Chris's life could never be the same. Now he's a private detective, assisted by his genetically altered dog Sherlock, and emulates the tough guys in the noir books and movies that he loves. When Bach takes the case of a woman involuntarily infected with an engineered virus, he is on the hunt to track down the biohackers in the infamous district of Irontown. But if he wants to save humanity, he'll have to confront his own demons.