Blade Runner: Replicant Night

Until yesterday, I was unaware that Jeter wrote a third novel, Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon, in this series.

However, given my thoughts on this one and that even a paperback copy of it costs over $70, I won’t be reading it anytime soon.

Incidentally, the Science Fiction Encyclopedia’s Jeter entry says the series makes “use of some original Philip K. Dick material”. I presume that means unpublished material that Jeter saw.

Raw Feed (1999): Blade Runner: Replicant Night, K. W. Jeter, 1996.Replicant Night

While I appreciated that parts of this book were a homage to Philip K. Dick, I didn’t like this book.

I found large parts of it tedious and other parts implausible.

The Martian setting, arid, desolate, and producing people who eventually almost lapse into total catatonia and a new generation of children who seem alien seemed to be inspired – at least as I remember it, by Dick’s Martian Time-Slip.

The talking briefcase – a very Dick touch – I liked with its artificial copy of Roy Baty’s consciousness. I also liked the very Dick-like stage setting of Deckard’s life undergoing a real and fake reprise – and change – in the orbital movie studio where a film recreating his android hunt is being made.

However, the middle part was frequently tedious.

The worst part was the idea of a cable monopoly (in keeping with what seems an anti-corporate view attitude by Jeter in general) being necessary in staving off sensory deprivation on Mars. Are future generations in the electronic age so bereft of ingenuity that they can’t stage (a la Old West pioneers) their own amusements in plays, sporting events, and games? I found that unbelievable.

I also thought Jeter belabored the plot device of Sarah Tyrell confronting her own past and insanity when she entered the Salander 3 and met Rachael Tyrell.

Tyrell and Deckard’s murderous relationship seemed reasonable, though, given the events of Blade Runner 2.

We don’t get a clear explanation of early stardrive toxicity, and, in keeping with Jeter’s horror writer tendancy to present fantastic elements with little or no sf rationale, we get J. R. Sebastian as pocket universe god, a pocket universe entered simply via drug ingestion. Nor does Deckard, as first implied, enter a virtual universe somehow encoded in a drug molecule or a sensory experience created by it. Deckard takes physical relics out of the pocket universe. The notion of alternate universes entered by various means, including drugs, is Dickian too, but he carried it off with breezier elan than Jeter.

The same holds true for Jeter’s conspiracy plots.

The plots are so convoluted and counterintuitive that, in two assassins, Jeter has characters answering objections by Deckard that sound like surrogate plot objections that the reader has.

And Jeter, by novel’s end, doesn’t really convince us of the believability of the plot, and the final revelation, human and android exchanging places in space, was not that exciting.

This novel had Dick features – confused reality, eccentric mechanical devices, conspiracies, domestic trouble, and mental illness – (not to mention being based on a Dick novel), but it did not capture the charm of even his lesser novels.

 

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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