I picked up Damage Time since I loved Colin Harvey’s debut novel Winter Song so much. And I am more impressed than ever with his craftmanship this is a totally different kind of story.
Damage Time is a classic noir at first glance. Detective Pervez (Pete) Shah is drinking in a bar when gorgeous dame Aurora Debonis enters in need of his help and after a night in his place she disappears and a body is found. It has some of the classic themes of the genre ‘The Setup’, ‘The Fame Fatale’ and ‘The Boss’, but there is so much more to the story and Colin does a good job in making it all come alive.
Much of this story centers on memory reading or memory ripping technology. Pete is an expert at finding subtle clues in memory recordings. He is the best Memory Association Specialist in the NYPD. New kind of criminals use the technology to erase memories of their crimes from their victims and then selling selected parts on the Web. The mind changing technology also made me reflect a great deal on what makes a personality and what makes ones identity because here it gets a bit fluid. It made me think, I like that in a book.
The protagonist Pete is getting a bit long in the tooth for the kind of work he does but he does it well. Being a bit older is something I can relate to and it is also a refreshing change from the usual twenty-something.
I am impressed by the vivid and subtle world building. Colin uses small strokes to paint a big canvas indeed. There is no info dumps in this story.
Pete is a halfway lapsed Muslim, something that still seems to be able to stir up aggression among the people in New York. In his world money converts to calories, what is left of US just got its ass kicked in the Middle East by the Arabic League, the interest on the US national debt is larger than their BNP, a seceded California is behind a huge wall and inside Homo Superior Californius go about their own mysterious affairs (much like they do today?).
As most good stories it takes care of the characters. There is even some romance. The action gets personal and close-up and it still affect me emotionally when I think about it.
Damage Time is a gritty near-future noir involving chilling mind ripping technologies, thrilling action and a memorable hero. Colin Harvey is a new writer to watch. I wonder what he is up to next. I know I want to read it.
This is the second Novel I read by Colin Harvey. He lives in Bristol in the south-west of England with his wife Kate and spaniel Alice. His first fiction was published in 2001, since when he has written novels, short stories and reviews, edited anthologies and judged the Speculative Literature Foundation’s annual Gulliver Travel Research Grant for five years. Colin’s reviews appear regularly at Strange Horizons and he is the feature writer for speculative fiction at Suite101.
Title: Damage Time
Author: Colin Harvey
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot
Copy: Copy from the publisher
It’s 2050 and sea-levels have swamped today’s coastal regions. New York City is protected by tidal barriers and the USA is bankrupt.
Detective Pervez (Pete) Shah serves with the NYPD’s Web Crimes Division as a Memory Association Specialist. When he’s accused of murdering a glamorous woman in a bar, he must find the killer, save himself … and the world.
FILE UNDER: Science Fiction [Future Crime / Memory Specialist / Run for your Life / World in Danger]