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Fade to Black (Shadowrun 13) (v. 13) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1994
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Even the etiquette, which is usually what is praised about this novel, felt stilted. Not to give too heavily a spoiler, there's a moment where the protagonist outright threatens and gets into a physical confrontation in a Yakuza club. With the guy hiring him, and his bodyguard. Not only did Smith take *deliberate* care to point out how much the Yaks don't stand for this kind of behavior, it also stretches belief to the point of injury for the reader to expect ANYONE to take a life or death job from someone they just had a near fatal standoff with. Rule number one of running the shadows is the facade of respect, and it seems every single character in this entire novel exists to try to out-amazing one another. Tedious, at best.
I'm not even going to get into the rampant and all-pervasive sexism, which it seems Smith is convinced is a hallmark of the SR universe. I'm no social justice warrior, but the level of misogyny in this book is literally cringe-inducing. Even the insanely cybered-out killing machine bodyguard is beneath any notice except for how good her body looks, because she's female. And this is from the *main character*. We're far beyond anti-hero or dark protagonist, and running fast in the direction of "I want to see this guy fail".
The only reason I didn't give this tripe 1 star is the fact that I've read Striper Assassin, by the same author. That book is bad enough that it can make other books worse, simply by sharing a shelf.