More than 9,000 years in the future, civilization is again in decline, having clawed back from a complete collapse of technology, the environment and society. Of the great flying cities that were originally built to lift people above a polluted world, only Autumn remains. The city is populated mostly by genetically enhanced humans, along with human-animal hybrids providing manual labor, and a very few “artisanal” humans — those born the traditional way of un-enhanced genetic stock. “Arties” are fetishized by some, but otherwise treated as second class citizens.
Valerius is an Artie, and a private investigator. A seemingly chance encounter brings him in touch with his latest client, an ageless android who asks for help preventing his own murder. It’s a case that has him confronting the powerful institutions that control much society, as well as questioning long-held beliefs about what was myth and what was real.
“A Fall In Autumn” is a heady mix of speculative fiction, dystopian future, science fiction and mystery story. It all unfolds as a sort of memoir written by Valerius. As such, the story-telling may not appeal to some, since it involves more “telling” than “showing”, but the ideas that unfold in the telling make it much more readable than you might think. In fact, if the book has one flaw, it’s that it introduces more ideas about what the future may hold than it can follow up.
Valerius is a very interesting character. He’s a private detective right out of the Sam Spade mold: World-weary and cynical from having seen humanity at its worst, but still a good man trying to do the right thing. Valerius meets a lot of different people in the course of his investigation, and each of them is presented in a way to make them seem real and unique. Some of them could even justify a story of their own.
This was a slow read for me, mainly due to all interesting concepts introduced, as well as the writing style. I found it fascinating, although I also suspect some might not.
“A Fall In Autumn” is available from Amazon.