reMix
Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Cover I found reMix highly amusing. It is an excellent book for aficionados of the cyberpunk genre.

LizAlec is the daughter of Lady Clare Fabio, Minster for internal secruity to the Prince Imperial of France. The book opens with LizAlec getting kidnapped from the moon where Lady Clare has sent her to boarding school.

Fixx Valmont is a former mega-star with a talent for music and tek and a passion for party drugs. He is also the guy LizAlec is in love with. Needless to say Lady Clare is not pleased about this, which is why she had Fixx arrested for statutory-rape and had LizAlec sent to the moon.

However Lady Clare has bigger problems than who her 15 year old daughter is sleeping with. The fourth Reich are camped on the outskirts of Paris and ready to invade. They would have already invaded except the nanetic a Azerbaijan virus sweeping across Europe has turned all ferric materials to a fine powder. And to cap it all off storms are washing what is left of Paris down the drain. Lady Clare is desparetly looking for a way to save the Prince Imperial and the Empire. LizAlec's kidnapping is just an additional problem and the only solution Lady Clare can come up with is to send Fixx to try and find her.

All of this happens within the first few dozen pages so I'm not giving away any of the story, but it should give you any idea of the complexity and pace of the book. There are a few other principle characters as well; Brother Michael and Sister Aaron who are creating the new Eden on a space station; Count Lazlo, the Minister for External Affairs and Lady Clare's political nemesis; and General Que (retired) one of the worlds richest and most powerful men. I can't say more about these principle characters without giving away important bits of the plot.

The book is interesting in that there is no one character driving the events of the story and no single over arching plot. There are three major story lines; the kidnapping of LizAlec, the near defeat of Paris at the hands of the fourth Reich, and the spread of the Azerbaijan virus. The events in each affect the direction and future events in the others. The three story lines are separate, each has it's own objective, but they are so closely entwined none of them could be removed without destroying the others. This creates a very complicated and strong book.

One point that did annoy me was the constant change in perspective. There is nothing wrong with changing the viewpoint character in itself, except that Jon often does it in the middle of a scene with no clear delineation. There are a few points where it is unclear as to who was thinking what as a result.

Explicit sex scenes are a feature of this book. I have nothing against them as long as they are necessary to the story. The majority of the sex scene within reMix are relevant. They serve to help define the nature and personality of the principle characters. However there is one scene which just seemed superfluous. It could be taken out entirely without altering the story in any way. It's eight pages of graphic sex between Fixx and a minor character called Jude who runs a bar on the moon. It's well written, but adds nothing to the story or to Fixx's character. It should have been edited out in m opinion.

Violence and action are another strong feature of reMix, hardly surprising as the book is cyberpunk. Most of the combat scenes were described in a way which left no doubt as to what the combatants were doing, but a few of them were a little vague as to the actual actions taking place. This was due to the use of undescribed jargon. In the clearly written combat scenes the moves the characters go through are described as physical actions as well as given their technical martial arts name. The unclear scenes simply use the technical description which makes it impossible to know what has happened if you don't have a detailed knowledge of martial arts.

The final chapter does resolve all the story lines, but in a somewhat un-satisfying way. Some of the conclusions reached don't seem a logical concomitance of the events within the book. It's almost as if Jon thought, the books long enough. Time to stop and wrap it up.

In spite of these criticisms, which are essentially minor quibbles, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It blends sex, violence, drugs and music with a cynically twisted sense of humour. What more could you ask for a great cyberpunk novel. I intend to delve into Jon's other books based on the quality of this one.

I'm looking forward to reading Jon's earlier books as I had a nagging suspicion, while reading reMix, I was missing some things. There are references made about the past of some of the characters which I think would make more sense if I'd read Jon's earlier books. This doesn't mean reMix doesn't stand by itself as a separate novel. It does so, admirably, but I may have enjoyed it even more if I'd read his earlier books.