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By Michael G Kurilla on 21-11-13
Gritty detective tale with aliens
Polar City Blues by Katherine Kerr is an ambitious attempt to render the traditional "film noir" detective tale in a sci-fi format. Basically, the planet where the actions takes place lies at the juncture of Earth limits alongside two alien races. Earth is clearly the weakest of the group and the frontier / inner city environs is coupled with an understaffed and under-resourced Earth infrastructure. The murder of a diplomatically tied alien launches the tale and the local police chief (Bates) along with a street wise ex-military lady (Lacey) gradually piece together the clues while trying to prevent galactic warfare.
The sci-fi elements are limited to aliens along with flying cars, extra-terrestrial bacteria, and certain individuals with psionic abilities. There's a bit of romance and unrequited love thrown in for good measure. Sadly, Bates who manages to deftly handle alien interactions and eventually saves the day, receives minimal attention throughout the story resulting in a lack of character identification. The attempt to parallel the characters and situations to a traditional earth-side tales is overdone and the baseball fascination seems a bit too much.
The narration is passable, but the various voices lack clear definition.
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