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The Private Eye Hardcover – December 2, 2015
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Top Customer Reviews
The writer playfully inverts retro-futurism so our current tech is outdated while some tech we consider outdated now is paired with speculative tech not yet available. The characters are not particularly notable other than the protagonist and the villains motivations, while clearly stated, seem unsatisfactory to support his extreme actions. The ending gets credit for a brave choice but an eye-roll for the unlikely epilogue. If you're a huge fan of Saga, you'll probably enjoy this although I think it pales when compared to Y: The Last Man which I still consider his strongest work to date.
Martin's artwork is again wonderful. His work can seem minimal at times, with stark single color backgrounds but he tells the story fantastically and all the required detail is there. The plot takes a loot at what's going on in the world today with things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. People are basically broadcasting their entire lives, but what if something happened that truly revealed everything. Every search you ever did, every email, text, or photo you ever uploaded, out there for anyone to see. That's what happened in this world and now no one leaves the house without some kind of mask or disguise on, the internet is no more, people get their information from books and libraries, and journalists are among the most important and respected people around.
Our main character works on the fringe of this society, he is a paparazzi. For a nominal fee he will do some digging to find out things would like to keep private and eventually one case goes a bit off the rails.
This edition also gives you some sketches as well as a series of emails between Vaughn and Martin as they discuss the book and what it eventually becomes.
It's a long framed book, made up of 300+ pages, a strong cover and sturdy spine. The pages are high quality and the coloring shines off of them. Physically, it is very nicely put together.
It's a very good story (my biggest complaint is that the murder that sets off the plot of the story doesn't make much sense). It is set about 50-60 years into the future in Los Angeles. Global warming has raised the ocean levels, marijuana is sold in Marlboro-like packages, the media has been nationalized and most significantly, the internet is gone.
My favorite character is the protagonist's grandfather - a miillenial-turned-senior-citizen who still shows the side effects of the prescription drugs that he was jacked up on at the start of the 21st century, has sagging tattoos (the current adults and teenagers don't), and so dearly misses the joys of the iphone and internet gaming. Vaughan uses him to comment on America in 2015. It's wonderful, funny and interesting.
I have convinced myself that there is a trilemma when it comes to science fiction writing.
Either you have a good plot, or you have a good setting, or you have interesting characters. You can have two of the three, but never all three. The action and the people can be awesome, but usually for me the setting is off, there’s a failure of world-building because the author was trying to tell an interesting story but forgot that the economy wouldn’t really work the way they described it and maybe there’s a handwave or something to make it work. This kind of thing lessens my enjoyment.
That didn’t happen here. In fact, and for the first time I can remember in my readings, in “The Private Eye” the world is the star. In this future, the world has gone analogue after the “Cloud Burst” happened which revealed everyone’s secrets and society decided as a whole to unplug and find the joy in books and records. There is a character from our present, who is by this future an aging hipster with faded tattoos who is the most interesting character in the book because he shows the tension between the world as it is now and the imagined world. Alas, he is just a side character in the larger plot which involves an unlicensed reporter (in this world, the press has combined with the police as the arm of justice) solving a mystery. In the process, the big wall holding the Pacific gets a hole blown in it. That’s what I want to see and read about. The plot, for me, lacked tension that would pull the story forward and the world was the star. I definitely want to see more of this world from Vaughn and company. I just don’t care about most of the characters that live there. It’s an odd tension I’m not entirely used to.