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Spares - Michael Marshall Smith
"the most incredible DARK TRAGI-COMEDY-HORROR-FUTURE-THRILLER-SF-ODYSSEY type thing you'll ever read!", or near as dammit.
ARTICLE INFOIn 1996, promotional material for Spares proclaimed it as being "the most incredible DARK TRAGI-COMEDY-HORROR-FUTURE-THRILLER-SF-ODYSSEY type thing you'll ever read!" Hyperbole though it may be, this wide-ranging description is an apt summary of Spares's genre-defying excellence.
book by Michael Marshall Smith
rated 7.4/10 by 5 people
Often categorised as science fiction, MMS prefers to think of his novels as dark thrillers which happen to be set in the near future. In the case of Spares, dark is the operative word. Eschewing the fantasy elements of his first novel, Only Forward, MMS spins a bleak tale of long-buried secrets, vengeance and redemption but one that maintains the quirky humour punctuating his debut. Featuring a protagonist with a deeply traumatic past, five and a half cloned children and a talking fridge, Spares is nothing if not weird.
Compared to its predecessor, Spares is a much more mature work. A firmer control of the plot is in evidence and the focus on the seemingly hopeless plight of Jack Randall, the books anti-hero, never wavers. MMS has a talent for creating grey characters in his stories and none more so than here. Randall is flawed to the point of structural collapse, and a complete bastard at that, but is still a character you can root for. His hilarious observations on the world are neatly placed so as to lighten the mood and highlight MMSs precise use of wit and irony. The first-person perspective avoids multiple threads and so gradually winds up the tension as Randall begins to come to terms with his past and its continuing effect on his present.
The future looks bright for Michael Marshall Smith. Spares was optioned for film and a certain Mr Spielberg has favoured it for some time. With such a big name behind it, one can only hope that Spares will translate to an excellent film and one that will propel MMS to the forefront of (dark) thriller writing.