36 Streets Review: Gumshoe gangster – SciFiNow

Set in a cyberpunk future of Vietnam, author TR Napper brings a new sci-fi take on the gangster thriller with 36 streets.

When a mysterious tech tycoon responsible for creating Vietnam’s most controversial virtual reality game goes missing on Hanoi’s lawless 36 streets, an eccentric British billionaire turns to local gang leaders who roam the streets for find it. Recruiting their most unbiased enforcer to play detective, Lin Thi Vu must try to unravel the mystery of the disappearance and collect his salary, without inciting a gang war.

In her debut novel, Napper created a deeply textured vision of the future, where race and nationality still play a significant role in damaging justice systems and culture. Filled with Kill Bill-flashback-style training montages and complex geopolitical conspiracy mechanics, 36 streets is full of new and inventive ideas on how to deliver a gripping sci-fi thriller.

In the world of 36 streets, technological implants, and memory-erasing technology are commonplace, with some characters experiencing cyborg levels of bodily augmentation. We get images of body shock and graphic violence similar to mortal combatbut with the concept of memory erasing, Napper cleverly eschews the trope of the unreliable narrator and instead finds inventive ways to subtly explore the game’s impacts with memory and reality, tugging at that thread with rhythm. method of a traditional detective thriller.

While the mystery of the disappearance is what drives the story, it’s the background and world-building that ensure 36 streets stands. Napper cleverly injects references to the historical events of the real Vietnam War and distracts both the reader and the characters from the story with manipulations of this collective history in an almost Mandela Effect way. Ever present, but hidden in the background, are disturbing political machinations that corrupt Lin Thi Vu’s world and subconsciously influence the choices she must make. The characters are twisted by circumstance and opportunity, their humanity twisting with every turn of the page.

For his debut in a sci-fi novel, Napper packs an enormous amount of ideas and successfully condenses them into a cohesive story. While there are points where the story starts to feel fuzzy and jerky, these digressions provide the kind of tangential texturing that begs you to live in this world a little longer. A futuristic noir crime thriller that’s as far from blade runner as possible, 36 streets is imbued with a wistful brutality that shines a light on war-weary people, dissecting layered motivations with new insights from an unfamiliar eye.

36 Streets is now out of Titan Books. Read more news and book reviews from SciFiNow here.

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