Gun, with Occasional Music

Take one part Raymond Chandler and two parts Philip K. Dick. Or maybe it’s two parts Dashiell Hammett and one part Aldous Huxley. Let’s try all four. Then add three parts of George Orwell. Mix them all together, and you get Gun, with Occasional Music, by Jonathan Lethem, a noir science fiction thriller that successfully carries off this odd hybrid. I listened to the audiobook version, and I’m not sure whether it would have taken more time or less time to figure out what was going on if I had read it in print. Anyway, this odd tale of California in the very near future portrays a world of humanoid (“evolved”) animals, near-universal legal drug use, and a totalitarian government, all with a definite gloss of science fiction rather than fantasy. The noirish atmosphere is palpable and unsubtle. Characters are fairly interesting, the plot is intriguing, but basically the setting is all. Do read it (or listen to it), even if you don’t think it’s your cup of tea.

Categories: Books