Thursday, November 04, 2010

SF/F: Katja From the Punk Band by Simon Logan

So I’m calling this novel SF/F. I’m not sure that’s correct. It seems possible to me that you choose call it something else. But I wanted to stick a label on it that would A/ enable those who want to read it to find it and B/ connect it with other books that might be sort of -- though not exactly -- like this one. And that’s the rub, in a way. The thing that makes this whole labeling thing difficult and sometimes even questionable. There’s nothing quite like this. As a result, the publisher created its own label for Katja From the Punk Band (CZP), calling it “Jackie Brown meets the Sex Pistols -- a face-paced industrial crime-thriller,” but -- of course and as you know -- there actually is no such thing.

In the end, though, this labeling goes where all such things must because, call it what you will, Katja From the Punk Band is a terrific, fast-paced read and author Simon Logan is a writer who is coming up fast.

You’re never quite sure when (and even sometimes where) you are. It is a work island somewhere probably near Eastern Europe but what’s more important than that is the fact that no one actually wants to be there. Like just about everyone, Katja is willing to do what it takes to get off the island, so she shoots her boyfriend and steals a drug-like substance that she feels having will help get her off the island in one piece. Of course, none of this goes as Katja had planned and she ends up with a whole platoon of whacky post-punk characters out for her ass with blood in their eyes. It’s exciting stuff.

Though the story is compelling enough to make you want to keep reading, Logan’s storytelling decisions here are what really elevates the whole experience. Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective, a device that sounds awkward and, truthfully, sometimes is. But the ambition to even attempt it speaks volumes for this author and there are times where -- despite the grit and the tawdry surroundings -- Logan comes very close to creating something like art.

There are times that Katja From the Punk Band is so good its almost scary. William Gibson fans might like this one as well as those who appreciate the colorful half images that China Mieville creates. But don’t be doing too much comparing as you read Logan’s book. I suspect that, before long, reviewers will be using this one as a basis for compare.

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