- LETHEM, Jonathan (Allen)
- (1964-)US writer who began publishing sf with "The Cave Beneath the Falls" for Aboriginal in 1989, and who has published at least 35 stories since, the best known of them probably being "The Happy Man" (1991). His first novel, Gun, With Occasional Music (1994), meticulously rehabilitates the noir narrative voice CYBERPUNK writers notoriously acquired from writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, not only through the exactitude of the stylistic miming involved, but also because the setting, characters and overall ambience of the tale directly homage the earlier masters. The setting is a cloistral NEAR FUTURE California; and the main character (who narrates) is a private eye in a world which has been reduced-rather than liberated-by the recursiveness of a culture near the end of its tether. In the terrified, shrinking world of Gun, With Occasional Music, it is socially unacceptable to ask personal questions;drugs like Forgettol continue to reduce the mental spaces available to humanity; a weary dictatorial police state gives thugs in its employ the right to punish citizens by reducing their "karmic points" until they have none, and are sent to deepfreeze; animals and babies, transmogrified by "evolution therapy", walk and talk. The nightmarishness of the bookderives, perhaps, from a sense that JL has-as accurately as or Steve ERICKSON-captured the surreal underlying bleakness of any future Hammettor Chandler might actually have imagined. JL's next novel, Amnesia Moon (1995), is eagerly awaited.JC
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.