(Victor Gollancz, £6.99, 426 pages, paperback; first published
2000; this edition 14 June 2001; ISBN 1-85798-890-6.)
Roger Levy's first novel bears more than a few resemblances to those
of Philip K Dick:
strange events on distant colony planets; the end of the world rumbling
inexorably on regardless of hi-tech wonders; strange alternate worlds
overwhelming our own, etc.
Towards the end of the 21st century the world looks distinctly like
that portrayed in Blade Runner: dark, grimy and wet. The planet
is dying, racked by earthquakes and pollution - even hope itself seems
to have died following the failure of an interstellar expedition to
colonise (first peacefully and then by force) the Eden world of Dirangesept.
The so-called Far Warriors have returned home, defeated and in disgrace.
But it's not all bad! Virtual Reality games have become remarkably
sophisticated, so much so that one company has been recruiting former
Far Warriors to test their latest one - but people have been dying after
playing the game, and Jon Sciler decides to find out why when an old
friend and comrade drowns, despite having a phobia of water.
I found Reckless Sleep a frustrating read. Roger Levy writes
well: situations flow off the page smoothly, and characters are portrayed
believably and naturally. His world has a surreal Dickian quality to
it, sf touched with a hint of Magic Realism, such that you can never
be quite sure what might happen over the page. Unfortunately,
as the story develops it turns out that what might happen over
the page is far more interesting than what actually does - Reckless
Sleep is rather dull and confused (like most of its characters),
and unsure what kind of book it wants to be. Not much happens, and the
entire story seems infected with the same ennui that grips the ruined
future world. I had to make myself stick with it till the ends, and
by the time the mildly inventive conclusion was sprung I just wanted
Hopefully Levy's second novel will be better because, as I said, he
can write really rather well - it's just a shame that he wrote this
Review by Stuart Carter.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: