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The Long Orbit

by Mick Farren

Mick Farren is one of those authors who keeps getting better. In "The Long Orbit," he blends a detective yarn with a future world that comes across as plenty strange. The hero's name is Marlowe, a "leisure-out" who pretends he's Humphrey Bogart, in exchange for which the government pays him a permanent "Guaranteed Income Maintenance." There are a number of "leisure-outs" in Farren's society, gathered together in "The Zone." Apparently, the government pays people who fail a test that measures opposition to authority. The lucky ones are simply sterilized, while the unlucky get sterilized and are refused the guaranteed income.

Hired as a pawn in a corporate power struggle, Marlowe has to find a woman who's decided to hide out with a group of vampires, most of whom have been surgically altered -- though not like Marlowe. Gun fights and chase scenes abound, with plenty of sex and drugs thrown in for good measure. The principals are kidnapped and hauled off to space where they meet anarchists, fascists, and Rastafarians (gosh, these rastamen are becoming almost indispensable to Cyberpunk).

Since anarchy is a hobby of mine, I'm happy to tell you that the good guys win. "The Long Orbit" contains a enough nifty concepts, characters, and plot twists to make it well-worth checking out.

(K. Bloom)


The Long Orbit
Mick Farren
Del Rey/Ballentine
1988, 264 pgs., $3.95


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