Retro-review: Spares, Only Forward, One of Us - Michael Marshall Smith

Another retro-review of books I read around the turn of the millennium, and a three-in-one at that. Spares title is about human clones being kept to act as spare parts for the ultra-wealthy, but much of the plot actually concerns a weird kind of alternate space called The Gap, and the war there. Only Forward is about a future world where the people of The City live in themed Neighbourhoods. It turns out the protagonist got to the future by visiting a weird kind of alternate space, which is the source of the problems the narrator faces. One of Us concerns someone whose job it is to look after other people's memories. It fortunately doesn't have a weird kind of alternate space, but all appliances are sentient for no particularly good reason, and the ending twist beats the surprise arrival of yet another weird kind of alternate space for irritation.

I'm not a great fan of these books. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I bothered reading three, two would have been pushing it. They're all of a cyberpunk-adjacent, violent and sardonic mould, which I was more or less into at the time, but "sardonic" is hard to not make heavy-handed. For me, the main issue was the repeated pattern of a Really Big Twist Idea that just doesn't fit with the rest of the story, making the whole thing lumpy and uneven, like a snake that's just eaten something way too large. Meh, at best.

Posted 2022-09-08.