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''Please sir got any spare organs''
Spares - Michael Marshall Smith
Member Name: Jojoborne
Spares - Michael Marshall Smith
Advantages: Cool, witty and thought provoking.
Disadvantages: Not for you if you think fiction should model real life.
Michael Marshall Smith - Spares
Michael Marshall Smith or Michael Marshall, as he is known for his thriller novels, is a science-fiction writer with a difference who I have long admired. I have read many of his books and have had 'Spares' in my collection for a while but hadn't got around to reading it until recently. It was with great enthusiasm that I opened the book to the first page.
Spares is the story of Jack Randall. He's a burnt-out ex-cop with a recurring drug habit. After five years lying low, working on a spares farm, he is finally faced with a chance of redemption. The only problem is that the spares tagging along with him are now, along with Jack, fugitives after he broke them out of the farm. The story of spares is a breathless race through and strange and disturbing world that is close to our own and yet a million miles away. Spares is fiction, but only just.
What the critics said
''Comic, cruel, twisted and surreal'' - Empire
''Some books stretch the imagination. This one mugs it'' - David Baddiel
''A storytelling skill that can only be described as pure genius'' - Venue
''Tense, exciting and at times very funny'' - Time Out
''Smith masterfully moves the whodunit toward the future, opening up refreshing vistas for a genre rooted in the present'' - People Magazine
''Witty, hard-edged and coruscatingly imaginative...compellingly off-kilter'' - New Scientist
''Originality plus and a wicked flow of philosophical twists'' - Kirkus
''Compulsively readable'' - Publishers Weekly
Firstly, let me say that anyone who knows or has read Michael Marshall will know what an amazing writer he is. Like the Scottish writer, Iain Banks, he is a writer with an almost unrivalled imagination. He is also an excellent writer in terms of prose and intellect and he carries on with all those traits in 'Spares'.
The story begins with the enigmatic; love to hate lead character, Jack Randall, trying to buy himself back into his old neighbourhood, which to all intents and purposes is a floating metropolis that is lying motionless in the sky. The city within the metropolis, New Richmond, consists of different territories and the main living complex is a band of tall sky scrapers where the higher the floor you live on, the better off you are.
Jack has been away for over five years after retiring from his role as a policeman, believing there to be too much corruption in the force. He also had a bit of a problem with the local drug of choice, which is called rapt. This came about after he fought in a mystical place called the 'Gap', where soldiers took rapt to keep themselves from going crazy of dying of fear. For five years Jack has worked on a spares farm, a place where people's clones are manufactured and reared. The idea being that a person who needs a new arm or leg or an organ replacement, can go to the farm and get the replacement straight from their own clone. Jack however, builds up a relationship with some of the clones and believes they have a right to live. He breaks them out and the story becomes a fight to stay alive and save the clones. A friend is murdered and an old mafia boss comes looking for revenge and Jacks life is thrown into a nightmare akin to the gap.
I thought Jack Randall was fantastically drawn and he really is one of those characters that you are not sure whether you should like or not, at least not publicly. I loved him and thought he made a fantastic lead character. Some of the other characters are well drawn to and they all seem to fit and are not just thrown in to move the story along.
The world that Marshall has created is, again, so unreal but so believable and well thought out. Once you get the general feel of the place you feel as if it is as normal as normal can be.
The plot is rich with tension and high points and it is really well paced. I read it while on holiday and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It moves along nicely and you don't get bogged down in detailed descriptions of the fantasy world it is set in. I would say it is a book that is best read in a few sittings. Putting this one down for three weeks on end might leave you having to back track to keep up with the story.
It really does make you wonder where the human race will end up when it comes to the taboo subject of cloning.
The book was originally going to be turned into a movie starring Robert De Niro but it never came to fruition, although the script is still floating about and the rumour mill still running on the fact that it may still be made at some point in the near future. I doubt that it will be De Niro in the lead role now though; more likely to be someone like Jason Statham. I would like to see Michael Fassbender do it personally.
Overall I thought it was a very entertaining read and I would recommend it to fans of Marshall and Iain Banks alike. As for fans of Iain M Banks (as he writes his science fiction) I would say that Spares is science fiction but with Marshall's thriller writing thrown into the mix; a science fiction thriller if you like.
Summary: A future where we look to our clones for longevity and health.