Saturday, September 01, 2007

K. W. Jeter: Farewell Horizontal

K. W. Jeter's Farewell Horizontal is a reasonably well-told straightforward hard SF story. The story follows a single character, Ny Axxter, as he wanders around the outside of a free-floating cylindrical habitat. He's a free-lance graffex artist, barely scraping by on the last of his savings, and the very occasional odd job. He recently abandoned life in the "horizontal" internal spaces, and has yet to find a stable role outside the cylinder, where gravity constantly threatens to pull everyone and everything down the wall.

The setting and the conflicts were moderately interesting, but Ny was a little too clueless for my taste. There were several times that Axxter blithely walked into situations that were clearly set-ups of one kind or another. Sometimes he did so against solid advice from people he'd recently met, and other times in the face of clear warning signs.

Even the resolution was a little too much of a set-up for me. Axxter is in sole possession of evidence that the universal information system that everyone trusts and relies on has been subverted, and if he passes it on to the right faction, maybe they'll do something about it, and reward him with a job! Nope, they're in it, too. But Axxter lucks out; it turns out that his private channel to the faction's leaders was leaky, and everyone in and on the habitat got the message, and decided that enough was enough.

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