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Red Planet Blues | [Robert J. Sawyer]

Red Planet Blues

Alex Lomax is the one and only private eye working the mean streets of New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that sprang up 40 years ago after Simon Weingarten and Denny O’Reilly discovered fossils on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, where anything can be synthesized, the remains of alien life are the most valuable of all collectibles, so shiploads of desperate treasure hunters stampeded to Mars in the Great Martian Fossil Rush.
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Publisher's Summary

Robert J. Sawyer, the author of such "revelatory and thought-provoking" novels as Triggers and The WWW Trilogy, presents a noir mystery expanded from his Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella "Identity Theft” and his Aurora Award-winning short story “Biding Time”, and set on a lawless Mars in a future where everything is cheap, and life is even cheaper....

Alex Lomax is the one and only private eye working the mean streets of New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that sprang up 40 years ago after Simon Weingarten and Denny O’Reilly discovered fossils on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, where anything can be synthesized, the remains of alien life are the most valuable of all collectibles, so shiploads of desperate treasure hunters stampeded to Mars in the Great Martian Fossil Rush.

Trying to make an honest buck in a dishonest world, Lomax tracks down killers and kidnappers among the failed prospectors, corrupt cops, and a growing population of transfers - lucky stiffs who, after striking paleontological gold, upload their minds into immortal android bodies. But when he uncovers clues to solving the decades-old murders of Weingarten and O’Reilly, along with a journal that may lead to their legendary mother lode of Martian fossils, God only knows what he’ll dig up....

©2013 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (454 )
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4.2 (404 )
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  •  
    Craig Seattle, WA, United States 04-06-13
    Craig Seattle, WA, United States 04-06-13 Member Since 2007

    I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.

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    "Gumshoe on Mars"

    Sometimes we listen to a futuristic novel and say to ourselves, "Yup, that could happen" or, "That is in the realm of possibility." We did not make our purchase expecting Fantasy, or Sci-Fi Comedic Opera; we purchased good old-fashined science fiction. Even if our story has a crime thriller theme, we still made our purchase based on the expectation of some solid, thought-provoking, science fiction brain-candy. Well, my experience with with Red Plant Blues was just the opposite. I found myself saying, "This is totally bogus. This is not Sci-Fi, it's a Jack Reacher on Mars novel." (Note: For those who have not listened to a Reacher novel...think Dick Tracy on steroids [sans the badge])

    Everything about the novel, Red Planet Blues, is far too fantastical to even contemplate. Not that human-consciousness androids are out of the realm of future possibility, its merely that Robert J. Sawyer, the author, presents them as such ludicrous characters that they lose their viability as plausible entities.

    The novel begins by asking us to empathize with a down and out private detective who is (for reasons unknown) exiled to Mars. The theme is thus: A Private-Eye, with nothing, gets a case that could make him rich if he pursues an unethical pathway (if he was ethical in the first place - we don't know that). However, the plot is so muddled with extraneous characters and unbelievable events that we, as listeners, lose sight of the big ethical questions. Hence, we are left with listening to a drama unfold about a guy that does pretty dangerous stuff on Mars without a believable motivation to risk dying in the near vacuum of its hostile planetary atmosphere. As the audience you will say to yourself..."That was pretty stupid, why did he do that?"

    If you can suspend credibility for ten hours and listen to this book as a sequence of interesting, but wholly unbelievable incidents on a planet with a hostile environment, then by all means, go for it. Otherwise, let the data-bits of this novel rest on the Audible servers.

    In memory of Mr. Ebert...two thumbs down!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hassan 03-29-13
    Hassan 03-29-13 Member Since 2009

    5 stars is i love and i will read agani and again. 1 is i hate and i never want to hear about it ever again. YES = :))) - NO= :'(

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    "Interesting Book!!! Full of twists and events"

    This book talks a bout the life of a detective called Alex in Mars, it shows you a futuristic life style and how people are living there .
    In the beginning of this book someone comes and hire Alex for a job, its not complicated case and its quite predictable.. But thats not the whole story, it was like an opener to the book.

    I don't want to spolie anything, let me just say that the ending of this book and the whole story were really good. Robert is a good writer and his books are awesome, am a big fan of the WWW series.

    The narrator Christian Rummel did a great job with the voices and the accents.

    summing all of that, is another great book with great plot.

    Highly recommended, specially if you have read Robert J. Sawyer's books

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy 04-14-13
    Judy 04-14-13

    An omnivorous fiction reader, I'm blown away when friends say they have no time to read for the helluva it. I prescribe Audible immediately!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ball of Confusion"

    As a voracious reader of the Younger Boomer persuasion, I may not be among the author's - or performer's - target demo, but I found Red Planet Blues' plotting hopelessly contrived, unnecessarily convoluted and forced and its characters totally flat, predictable and embarrassingly stereotypical. Its reader's delivery portrayed an adolescent's interpretation of the tone and cadence an "old-fashioned hard-boiled gumshoe" might employ - but, in Mr. Rummel's defense, Mr. Sawyer didn't give him much else to work with.
    If Sawyer was aiming for a sci-fi inflected riff on John D. McDonald or early Robert Parker, he's way off the mark.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kayla Santa Cruz, CA, United States 07-17-13
    Kayla Santa Cruz, CA, United States 07-17-13 Member Since 2011
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    "This stew of old ideas didn't work"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend this book to a friend or a Sawyer fan. It is the only Sawyer book that I've disliked so far. Heretofore I could count on the author to always give me a 5 star listen. He does fringe technology well and he does characters well, usually. From a pre-pubescent teenage blind girl in his www series to elderly people that get rolled back to their youthful states, in Rollback. Heck, he can even write Neandertals!

    But the characters in this book were two dimensional. I liked none of them, and was interested in none of them. The main character was a space cowboy womanizing type. The story was about treasure hunting. The science part was about moving a person's consciousness to a new non-biological form. Sawyer has been playing with consciousness for a long time in his novels. Maybe set the idea down for awhile.

    I'm 3/4 of the way through and I'm forcing myself to finish it, but not enjoying it.

    The reader does a great job. A good voice for the role.


    What could Robert J. Sawyer have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    honestly? written a different book. there wasn't any "new" science material in this book. No new ideas I haven't heard about before. That paired with boring characters made it a lousy read.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Imagery of a stripped down model without much flesh on it, but with a copy of someone's mind inside it.


    Did Red Planet Blues inspire you to do anything?

    Yes. There were a few places where the characters spoke of acronyms and mnemonics for learning scientific things. I added those to my personal toolbox.


    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 06-18-13
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 06-18-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Excellent sci-fi detective tale on Mars"

    Sawyer rarely disappoints and Red Planet Blues is no exception. Alex Lomax is the only detective in New Klondike, a frontier style town on Mars that is home to an eclectic collection of various sorts, those who want to drop out or disappear as well as fossil hunters (Mars has evidence of ancient, now extinct primitive life forms that command high prices from collectors on Earth). In his line of work, Lomax gets exposure to a cadre of shifty characters. The main plot concerns a wide variety of players, all out to lay claim to an almost mythical mother lode of fossils. Along the way, Lomax pieces together remnants of 30 year old events that differ from the "official" story, and solves the multiple mysteries, both past and current.

    The sci-fi is well done with attention to unique features of Mars' lower gravity and climatic conditions. Other than space travel (which is routine, but follows normal physics), Sawyer adds "transfer" where an individual can be uploaded into an android robot which livens things up quite a bit. People and their routines are fairly typical and readily identifiable, a sci-fi / western motif.

    The narration is excellent with good pacing and a great range of voices. In particular, Lomax's style with irresistible urges for bad jokes and old movie trivia is handled well and makes the storytelling quite engaging for a fast listen.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada 09-13-13
    Jessica Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada 09-13-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Why bother even putting this story on Mars?"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. This book takes place in a time when we are past being able to colonize Mars YET the much of the basic technology is what we use today - keyboards, ipad things, physical coin currency and of all things a bullet shooting Smith & Wesson. Maybe I have been massively spoilt by other Sci-Fi writers (Kristine Kathryn Rusch for example) who first of all would not have a Smith & Wesson this sort of weapon in a dome/biosphere because of the damage it could possibly do to the overall micro environment. Or how about cost of producing the bullets - is this done on Mars? Or are the shipped from Earth and If so, wouldn't that make them thousands of dollars a bullet? I don't know, it's never explained the author just moves on. At one point the protagonist is watching a dust storm, but where is it? Inside the dome? if so, why and how would such a storm be produced. If it is outside the dome, well how is he seeing it? does his office have a window that looks outside the dome? and if so why isn't that window as dirty and run down as the rest of the dome supposedly is. My point is there are so many loose and ridiculous loose ends when it comes to the world building and science end of this story that the author would have been far better off just to leave it on earth and make it a little bit in the future. As this story stands, it was frustrating and disappointing. I think there is loads of potential, but the lazy lack of imagination in the details has just left me cold.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert J. Sawyer again?

    Nope.


    Did Christian Rummel do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    He was ok with what he had to work with. I mean supposedly this is a very old Mars colony and yet the characters are described as having accents like a distinctive "Scottish brogue" or Latin for example. I mean after all that time wouldn’t they have their own accents, slang, patois, or subtle ways of non verbal communication??? (again spoilt by authors like James S. A. Corey)


    Was Red Planet Blues worth the listening time?

    Noooooooooo. For me it was not.


    Any additional comments?

    I love to be immersed in a world and I do not strictly read Sci-Fi. I am not a purist by any means. I can forgive allot if you can keep my attention, you are clever or can 'wow' me with interesting concepts and fresh ideas. But this book. Uhg. It was as if the author took a giant fluffy ice cream scoop of a bit of low fat, sugar free Raymond Chandler and flung it at Mars, stood back and said "Look I made a Noir/Sci-Fi!!!" NO. If you are looking for something that is Noir/Sci-Fi I would recommend reading "Noir" by K. W. Jeter - and I hope very much that book will be on Audible some day.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin FREDERICK, MD, United States 04-01-13
    Martin FREDERICK, MD, United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Multiple Murders on Mars! Why? Money!"
    Would you listen to Red Planet Blues again? Why?

    Yes! The Story moves right along and the Narrator does the interesting men, women, and others unusually well. Spoiler: Sorry, No bug eyed monsters. That's a good thing!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story is interesting and the pace is steady. No long boring blah blah blah will the Alien get the hero.


    Have you listened to any of Christian Rummel’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This was my first. Christian Rummel's performance made a very good story even better. I'll be looking for more of his audio books.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I liked moments like: How did you manage to get my Mars rover covered with mud? and how fast a normal dog could run under the only dome on Mars.


    Any additional comments?

    Another well written, interesting story by Robert J. Sawyer. Red Planet Blues is a solid mystery story. My personal favorites are Homonids & Rollback.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Val westwood, CA, United States 04-01-13
    Val westwood, CA, United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Another Great Story by Robert Sawyer"

    In true form, Robert Sawyer came up with a unique story line. It is fast moving, exciting and as all Robert Sawyer books, a unique twist in his story. I'm a fan of Sawyer, and I read every book. .He never disappoints. Though Hominids will always be my favorite Sawyer books, Red Planet Blues is really very good. He creates a believable planet history, love how he deals with aliens. It's hard to put down and once completed, you will ponder concepts for some time. Great author, one of my favorite sci-fi authors.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan montreal, QC, Canada 10-02-14
    Jonathan montreal, QC, Canada 10-02-14 Member Since 2011

    I like any kind of books that are smartly written but the narrator is very important!

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    "A detective story on Mars !"

    I found it an entertaining and easy listen.Good match of narrator and story caracter. I really liked the science of transference if a bit unetical, it is a fun listen. one of the few authors to explore those science themes.one of my favorite authors !

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 05-12-14
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 05-12-14 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Takes MEARS Out of Your Life"

    IN MY EXPERIENCE GUYS WHO WERE ANAL ENOUGH ABOUT USING THEIR FULL FIRST NAME, NEVER BOUGHT A ROUND.
    It has been a while sense a listened to Identity Theft, but I believe the first two hours of this book is that story or one similar. The first two hours is five star listening, but after that it gets old quick. I would not recommend buying this book, but I would recommend getting Identity Theft.

    STUPID HAD IT'S OWN VELOCITY
    Noir detective stories are usually good short stories, but not long books. After a while you lose interest. The action scenes where some of the worst ever. In the middle of a fight scene I found my mind wondering. Sawyer tries so hard to get a fight on Mars and it's low gravity come off as realistic that it is too detailed and too stilted. Parts of the book was sophomoric. All the women were curvy.

    HITHER TO
    There are parts that are funny. It is also interesting to consider if you could move your consciousness into a plastic, but real looking and feeling body, and be almost immortal, would you do it and what type of body would you get. It reminded me of breast implants. Suppose an old man could get a young muscular body, with a large endowment, so to speak, wouldn't he do it.

    Christian Rummel is a top tier narrator.

    I AM LOOKING FOR CLUES.

    I ALWAYS KNEW YOU WERE CLUELESS.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Simon
    Cambridge, United Kingdom
    5/23/13
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    "I couldn't put this book down (at least my iPod)"

    I found this story riveting. If you can get your mindset around a colony living on Mars and minds being transferred into robotic bodies, the science is pretty good with low G and almost no atmosphere.
    I really loved the 'Dirty Backstreet Private Investigator' style and in some ways this book reminded me of the movie Sin City.

    Best book (audio) I've read (heard) in a long long time!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Brett
    birmingham, United Kingdom
    8/4/13
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    "Good old detective story"
    Would you listen to Red Planet Blues again? Why?

    No because its a detective story with a twist if you know the ending what's the point


    Would you recommend Red Planet Blues to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes because it's sci fi


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes very very well read


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gary
    Carshalton, United Kingdom
    6/23/13
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    "Robert Mitcham on Mars"
    Would you listen to Red Planet Blues again? Why?

    This is a book that I will read a second time, albeit in 4 - 5 years and when on holiday. The narration was excellent and the story was a boys own adventure.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Although there were many twists and turns within the plot, except for the final scenes much of them were obvious although I do not believe the writer intended them to be overly complicated.


    What about Christian Rummel’s performance did you like?

    Superb, excellent, entertaining. I have already searched for further books Mr Rummel has narrated.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Philip Marlowe does Mars.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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