No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

#25: Tourniquet: Tales from the Renegade City -- Kim Lakin-Smith

Renegade City. So morbidly exotic: like the dark side of Eden. But what is it really? Nottingham reincarnate. A fairy-tale of flawed ideals?

Tourniquet: Tales from the Renegade City is Kim Lakin-Smith's first novel, published by Storm Constantine's Immanion Press. It's reminiscent of a Gothic Bold as Love, an alternate present or near future where rock music (in this case, gothic rock, with smatterings of punk) is really as important as it's always thought it should be.

The 'renegade city' is recognisably Nottingham, and it's been pretty much colonised by the fans and followers of Origin, a goth supergroup who left behind the trappings of fame and retired to the city to (a) subvert local government (b) drive out decent, Mail-reading folk (c) rule as vampyric demi-gods over an enthralled populace (d) all of the above.

The Renegade City is not quite the happy hippie utopia that Origin might have hoped for. Years before the opening of the novel, Origin's lead singer, Roses, died in a fire that may not have been as accidental as was reported. The inhabitants of the Renegade City have fractured into tribes: Skinwalkers, Trawlers, Castclan, Fae ... The city's as riddled with what one character terms 'apartheid' as any playground, and the murky, shiny city streets -- this is cybergoth territory, not some pretty glittering faerie realm -- are dangerous for anyone who doesn't belong.

Tourniquet revolves around two quests: Origin's drummer, Druid, is trying to solve the murder of his brother Roses, and a young Fae woman, Jezebel, is in search of her lost brother Harish, last seen mid-mob pursuing Jezebel. Together, and with the help of various colourful supporting characters (including witch-eyed street-kid IQ and his redoubtably Boadicean grandmother Queenie) the two embark on an epic quest, or pub-crawl, or both.

Lakin-Smith's language is rich and spiky as wrought iron, and occasionally teeters on the brink of purpleness. There are some tremendously evocative passages and some vivid imagery -- I'm reminded of both Tanith Lee and Steve Aylett.

The novel seems to lack conclusion and resolution, to dissolve in a smoky haze rather than provide closure for reader or characters. I imagine there is more of this tale to come. I'd like to see more of the rest of England, beyond the city limits; I'd like to learn more about the other tribes, the infrastructure, the economy (there are definitely tourists, and more live music than you could shake a stick at).

Read for review, for Vector: VECTOR REVIEW HERE

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