When a senior member of Action Center disappears, the authorities hire Stark to find him. Stark succeeds in his mission and then the trouble begins. The author of Spares sets his latest sf action thriller in a color-coded near future, where independent neighborhoods vie for dominance in a dangerous and deadly high-tech world. Smith combines a whirlwind plot with a genially laconic hero to produce a fast-paced tale that belongs in large sf collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In a future world a lot weirder than the present, only a lunatic or a desperado would seek the services of Stark. Somehow, when he is on the job, everything seems to go screwier as Stark makes a sentry dog seem more like a gentle house pet. Thus, when Actioneer Zenda Renn introduces Stark to Darv and C of the Action Center's Intelligence Agency (ACIA), he knows they must be in extreme trouble, which they are. Apparently, three days ago someone abducted Senior Actioneer Fell Alkland who was doing highly classified work at the time. Stark is to find out who kidnapped Alkland, how they did it, and bring him back alive. Stark thinks the case has nothing to do with abduction, but knows that any inquiries in any of the Neighborhoods can be very perilous to one's life even if the case appears quite simple like this one. However, even the ultra-cautious Stark is not yet aware that Murphy's Law has been renamed for him because he soon becomes the target of friend and foe alike. If anyone had doubts before Only Forward was published that Michael Marshall Smith owns the absurd futuristic who-done-it sub-genre, they will not think so after this wild novel. Only Forward is weird, yet also amusing and entertaining. The story line is filled with a strange world loaded with intriguing but hard drive error gizmos inside a wonderful mystery. Stark is a great protagonist while the support cast provides depth to this surreal world. Not for everyone, Mr. Smith satirizes the mystery and science fiction genres while ripping every One Of Us with its acerbic tongue in cheek plot.
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