Red Planet Blues by Robert Sawyer (2013)

SawyerRedPlanetBluesIf you’ve been following my reviews, you know by now that I’m a true fan of Robert J. Sawyer. One of the things I like about him is that he does not write the same book over and over: each one is really different. Here the real difference is more about style than story.

Alex Lomax is the only private eye in New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that centers on a different sort of mining: Martian fossils. He occasionally describes some interesting fossils, but most of Lomax’s time is spent doing what the police are too stupid or lazy (or possibly corrupt) to do: chase bad guys.

Complicating his work is the phenomenon of transfers: people whose identity has been transferred into an almost indestructible artificial body by a corporation called NewYou. So if he’s chasing or being chased by a baddie, they may be a “biological” now, but soon transfer into something that not only looks completely different but is almost impossible to kill. They probably paid the extra to have enhanced eyesight, hearing, and muscle strength. They don’t need to eat or sleep, nor do they need a pressure suit to go outside New Klondike’s dome into the nearly airless open plains of Mars.

Alex fancies himself a Sam Spade sort of character, and Sawyer is either going along with the gag or — no, wait, I’m confusing the writer with the story. That happens to me a lot in Sawyer’s books. He gets me on the inside of it without my even noticing. If you enjoy that sort of thing, read everything this lovable genius has written.

I originally write these reviews on a program called Shelfari ( which includes a separate section for descriptions of characters.  There were none at all when I posted my review, so all of the ones there are my own.  Here’s a taste:

Reiko Takahashi:  A petite, pretty biological who works for NewYou.

Lakshmi Chatterjee: Writer in residence at Shopatsky House, on Mars temporarily to write a book to add to the collection of the house and make money back on Earth.

There’s lots more, both biological and transfers.  And a few who don’t play by the rules laid out by NewYou.  Enjoy!

Statements in this review do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.