Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Damage Time - Colin Harvey

A post-Collapse cop story.

An elderly detective literally about to retire gets forced back to work thanks to unfortunate timing, one day short of a pension.

A lot of the standard characters are to be found here. And, boringly and unfortunately it is set in New York - when lots of others places in this world sound way more interesting. However, that may be to place this old detective and a muslim in a bit of an outsider role. The USA is broke, and other economies less dependent on petrochemicals after the crash have done better. California has seceded and has artificial intelligences. He is also it is implied one of the remaining dyed-in-the-wool aggressive heterosexuals compared to later generations.

So you have your hooker with a heart of gold - but she is intersexual. You have the crimelord, but Asian. The suffering department widow - but also a co-husband. The thuggish dumb crimelord's son - but a memory ripper, making the whole story a bit Strange Days. Memories can be stolen. A tolerant partner who is bisexual (so yeah, things don't go well for him). A new rookie partner, a gruff captain who does what he can for his people, an honest Internal Affairs cop, etc. A junkie daughter.

So all pretty standard cop stuff, but made more interesting by the energy poor setting. Where the flatfoots actually hoof it around town, or catch the train. Complete with pedal bikes you can use to offset the train's energy use and get a discount if you are a garden variety passenger. Same with gyms in buildings. So interesting background. When the cops here say they are sick of sitting around, they mean it, they don't race off to plant themselves back in a car. The towns are worse off for resources and energy, and population has crashed in the 'Dieback' as part of the conflicts and hardships of previous times. An 8 million packed in city is now only 3 million. But does still have the lights on in places. That is all good - the ability to extrapolate a plausible and believable future that has fought back to survive. Personal communication technology has advanced from phones to eyepieces. Identities are controlled in a very fascist manner, a la Walternate and Fauxlivia's world in Fringe. So quite a bit of rather nasty here, but done with intelligence. Not your garden variety post-fall all we have left is a donkey, three shotgun shells and a couple of gaslamps to fight off the cannibal mutants with.

A long simmering conflict between cop and crimelord erupts into violent and memory ripping attacks when the dumb son makes one mistake too many, giving law enforcement an opening. Our protagonist is an expert on the use of memory technology analysis in crimesolving, so they are hitting him where it hurts.

The title comes from another background setting tweak. The power supply is of course not stable, so brownouts can come during professional sporting events, making electronic timing erratic. Therefore the referee on the ice can manually add on a little extra between regulation and extra time for what he thinks is the difference - Damage Time.

A high 3.5 if you like.

3.5 out of 5

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