M. John Harrison: Signs of Life

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Signs of Life is a beautiful book. The plot is of little importance, but the characters and the ambiance are brilliant. Actually, come to think of it, it reminds me of some of Steve Erickson's work - he too writes books that are almost incomprehensible, but still capture the reader. M. John Harrison is just even more magical; his description of the worn and used side of Britain is wonderful.

Signs of Life is about three people. Mick Rose is a courier, I suppose, who delivers medical supplies and takes care of toxic waste. He meets Isobel at an airport; she's working in the cafe there. They fall in love. That's what Mick wants: Isobel's love. Isobel wants to fly. Then there's Choe, Mick's immature and capricious business partner, bent on self-destruction. I guess he wants to be a real gangster.

All the characters want something and the book pretty much revolves around how they can't get what they want. It's really fascinating, in a rather morbid way. It certainly reminds me of The Course of the Heart - no wonder the two novels have been published as one book, Anima. They fit together well. Both are definitely worth reading. Oh, and Signs of Life is often marketed as science fiction. That's a bit of a silly label, as the book has very little science fiction in it. Don't let that keep you from reading the book. (Review based on the Finnish translation) [ Anima: Signs of Life/Course of the Heart (Gollancz S.F.) at Amazon.co.uk ]Signs of Life at LibraryThing ]

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