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36
3.6 out of 5 stars
Hammered (Bantam Spectra Science Fiction a Bantam Spectra Book)
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12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is the first book of a trilogy, and although I am not totally up to date on my Science Fiction, it is books like this that make me want to read much more new stuff. This book is fun. Serious, slightly twisted, but fun. It constantly takes me by surprise, and the characters demonstrate their independence by acting in their own interests, and not in the way i think they will. I think this book is a lot more human than genre cyberpunk, and it uses some of the archtypical elements of cyberpunk in interesting new ways. It is not a book to beat you up with its "look at me. i'm so kewel" attitude, it is a book to haunt you, to make you think "Gee, that was deeper than i first thought, now i get it". Can't wait for the next one, and the one after that and....
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Great first novel, with believeable near future technology, fast action, and well developed characters. Nice to have action in Canada and Connecticut instead of the same old New York and LA. A dystopic novel with a warm heart. Highly recommended. Can't wait for the sequel
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20 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 2062, the United States is no longer the biggest superpower on the block, thanks to a civil war in which Christian Fascists have taken over our nation. That leaves China and Canada as the supreme states! Yes, you read that right, CANADA has taken over the top spot from America. No slight on the Canucks, but this supposition turns this from science fiction into fantasy.

Jenny Casey, the heroine of the story, is bordering on senior citizenship, and in constant pain from an outdated cybernetic arm she received in a crash back when she was in the Canadian Special Forces. She lives in the slums of Hartford, Connecticut, trying to live a normal life as a mechanic, and being chums with the neighborhood ganglord, the pleasant Razorface, who is characterized as a pretty nice guy except that he kills people. Anyway, one of his people ends up dead from an overdose of Hammer, a drug usually reserved for the military. Jenny wants to live and die in peace but one of her old superiors wants to use her in an experiment and a cop ends up dead, and there is an AI roaming loose on the internet waves etc, etc, etc..... I'll spare you the details. Let's just cut to the chase.

This book was awful. It was average up to a point, but then came the turning point of the whole novel. I'm sorry to say that this book contains one of the sorriest, out-of-place, bumbling, and infantile sex scenes that I have ever read in my life. I mean with phrases like "..tasting myself on his mouth like butterscotch" or "present as an oak tree". Geez. It's horrible. And then there's the annoying use of French in the book. Ok, they're Canadians, but I felt the untranslated dialogue was pointless. I would expect it in Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, but come on! Another brillant use of metaphor the author uses is when Jenny feels as if "some part of me has been scraped out with a rubber spatula, the way you scrape the bowl out when you make cupcakes." There are countless other gems waiting for you in this book. The writing destroyed any hopes of the plot of the book succeeding. On top of all this, Hammered didn't even read like a sci-fi novel. It felt more like a television cop procedural drama. No sense of wonder and a vague feeling that it was trying to duplicate the feel of BladeRunner. Avoid this book at all costs. I feel insulted by this book simply because I wasted my time reading it.
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31 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not a bad first novel, incorporating a bit of a lot of different sf themes. It includes military, cyborgs, drugs, nanites, alien technology, global warming, cyberspace, love, hate, assassins, body-alteration, the end of civilization as we know it. Whew.

But it is a real pain in the ass to get to the end of the book, find that NOTHING is resolved, and the "sequel" will be out in six months for another $7. This is a bad trend in publishing -- split a "longish" book into two pieces and make twice the money. In this case, however, the first half wasn't really too long and it could and should have been marketed as a single published work.

So, the real rating is 4 stars for the book, and minus 2 stars for the publisher.

If it looks like the publisher is going to stretch this out to 3 volumes, I won't bother with the second.
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31 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hammered is the story of a former Special Forces soldier, because aren't they all? Jenny Casey is still paranoid and down on her luck, because aren't they all? And of course, someone is after her, because who wouldn't be? Luckily, the local gangbangers are on the older woman's side, and really, how could they not be?

Hammered is a classic first novel in the sense that one can easily pick out the author's autobiography and aspirations from the text. Ms. Bear is from Hartford so much of the action takes place in Hartford. Indeed, at one point Jenny Casey takes pains to point out that when another character speaks of "The City" he means Manhattan. Not that a Hartford resident would bother cogitating in such a way, but you know, kids with a poor sense of geography may be reading. Perhaps this is also why Bear takes pains to make sure that virtually every character, but primarily Casey, explains everything they experience and what's going on in the world around them over and over again. Life isn't lived here, it is summarized.

Ms. Bear is an admirer of Richard Feynman, so he makes an appearance as a lockpicking AI...ooh, just the way Feynman taught himself how to pick locks in real life. Ms. Bear has been online for many years and used to play or perhaps still does play RPGs, so a lot of the action not taking place in Hartford takes place in an online RPG. Feynman's chat with a bartender in a virtual reality has to be read to be believed -- it is so ham-fisted Bear must have been wearing pineapple bracelets when she wrote it. Does it make much sense when all put together? Of course it does, how could it not? Ms. Bear depends almost completely on cliché to drive the action forward.

We have evil corporations, pseudo-military slang, the improbable backgrounds of a Cyberpunk 2020 or Shadowrun RPG character (I'm French-Canadian! And a Mohawk Indian! And an elite soldier with cybernetic protheses! And I talk just like a 20th century American!), folks reciting the plot to one another endlessly, a space/terraforming programing, a generic climactic disaster, and in the background, the inscrutable Chinee hordes and their Manchu-ian plots for daring to become a non-white superpower (gasp!). This last is presumably because Japan's current economic stagnation makes them a less sexy set-piece.

To top it all off, Hammered is a frame story. For no particular reason, the entire text, complete with POV switching, the internal monogloues of an AI, Casey's constant trivial asides (and her endless cataloging of what she is doing with her "metal" hand in relation to her biological hand is only the most tedious), and howlers like Casey describing that she sees naturally on one side of her view but with heads-up displays and other cybernetic goodies on the other side (anyone out there with two eyes care to explain where Bear went wrong?) were written by other characters who knew Casey and who wanted to record this part of her life in the form of a "historical novel."

Yes, in the grim future of cyborgs and global warming, crappy novels will still be written, even though Casey mentions within the text itself that "they" don't publish much light reading anymore. (Again, perhaps like Bear herself, Casey digs those old paperbacks.) So then, why write an early 21st century pulp novel two centuries later for an audience that likely wouldn't be able to comprehend it any better than the average person today can flip through Tristam Shandy and instantly groove to its text? Who knows. This ain't a book for people who want to do any heavy lifting with their brains. If you need some literary soma, crack open Hammered. If you're looking for even the smallest spark of originality in ideas, a compelling vision of a dystopic future, interesting characters, or engaging prose, skip it.
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Please, do not be fooled by all the big-name writers perched on the fence crowing about what a great book this is. In today's publishing market writers (espacially sci-fi writers) are whores. "You stroke mine, I'll stroke yours".
If you're looking for a book where the hero does not have a guardian angel with near superhuman powers watching over her 24/7, this isn't it.
On the surface Razorface (if Elton John were dead he'd be spinning in his grave) is a ruthless druglord-gangster-kingpin, but in truth, he's a big-hearted ol' family-type goof just looking after the 'hood - and, of course, our heroine, Jenny. The book hints at a big mystery aching to be unravelled, but Jenny doesn't actually solve any of it, she merely waits for Razorface to put his "peeps" on it and then report back (Doyle IS spinning in his grave).
This has become such a common plot device (crutch for the plot-impared)it deserves its own category in literature.
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