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Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith
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Only Forward (1994)

by Michael Marshall Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9972912,473 (4.08)38
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» See also 38 mentions

English (26)  French (2)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This review and others posted over at my blog.

This book is utterly weird and I loved it! It is the first book from my Mr. B’s subscription that my girl Melissa gifted me for my birthday. I’d never heard of M.M. Smith before (he also writes as just Michael Smith) and now I need to get my hands on more of his work.

If you like sci-fi that is also fantastical and strange and at times, really disgusting and scary, then this is the book for you. The description on the back really didn’t prepare me for anything that happened in this book, other than Stark being a detective. And that’s ok!

This is a tough book to describe and part of my enjoyment definitely came from not knowing what the fuck was going to happen next and learning the “rules” of this sci-fi universe. Stark is the lovable loser type (tropey, but it works so well with detectives that I don’t mind) who can’t seem to get his life in control or his advanced technology to listen to him. He does really care for his cat though. Who doesn’t love a man who values cats!?

Only Forward is one of those stories that doesn’t spell everything out for you. This is neither good nor bad – at times I enjoy a lot of detail and a rundown of the world’s rules, etc. but other times I like to figure things out for myself. This doesn’t mean I figured out everything about the Neighborhoods and the technology though! Far from it. Per usual, I think I was a little lost. But in a good way. I filled in some details myself and decided not to wonder too hard about others, which I think is what Smith is going for. This is a book more about the experiences and characters, not about knowing precisely how everything in their world works.

While reading I laughed, I mumbled to myself, I said “ew” more than a few times and scratched my head a lot. This was a very enjoyable read and I was certain it was a series. I mean, what book about a detective isn’t!? It’s the perfect set up! Alas, this appears to be a standalone (at least, from what I could tell during my furious late-night research after I finished this – Smith’s website doesn’t allude to any other Stark books) and I’m disappointed.

I’m happy to have discovered a new author to love though. If you’re into weird sci-fi (weird-fi? Weird-sci?) then I think you should give this a shot. If it helps sweeten the deal, Neil Gaiman does the forward in my edition. If Neil Gaiman enjoyed a book enough to write a forward, I’m certainly willing to give it a shot! ( )
  MillieHennessy | Jul 11, 2018 |
I don't usually read sci-fi, as I'm not fond of the genre overall. As an old fogey I usually have trouble understanding the alternate worlds frequently portrayed in this type of book. If I feel the need to read something different, I'll usually go with fantasy. But I'll admit this book has a little bit of everything, and is very well written. It was imaginative and a bit bizarre while remaining accessible and understandable. The pace was constant, and the book didn't drag anywhere. For anyone who likes accessible sci-fi, I would recommend this book. ( )
1 vote dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
It has a few gaps in logic, plot holes, whatever, but the general line of the story and the ideas presented in the novel are more than enough to make this one of the books I would recommend to anybody trying to hear anything about life. It makes no sense. ( )
  joehardy91 | May 21, 2017 |
The book started well, with a nice attempt at Noir-style writing. It was funny and surreal, with a wise-cracking anti-hero navigating a well constructed dystopian society, where technology malfunctions in a human way. I enjoyed it up until the point Stark and Alkland entered Jeamland, then it turned silly, and the ideas weren't strong enough to really grab my attention. It felt as though it wanted to be a Discworld book, but Terry Pratchett wrote far better than Michael Marshall Smith. Then it turned into a kind of supernatural horror story, something like Glen Duncan would write but, again, not as good. There were some nice touches along the way, but over all it seemed confused about what it wanted to be as a book. I made myself finish it, but I wasn't really interested in what happened towards the end, and there were moments when it felt as though Marshall Smith wasn't that interested either. The big reveal made me shrug my virtual shoulders. I doubt I'll read any more of his stuff. ( )
  missizicks | Jan 2, 2016 |
GENIAL. Devorei este livro em 3 dias e há muito tempo que não lia uma história tão bem conseguida e com uma complexidade fascinante. O heroí/narrador parte dum bairro chamado "Colour" que contém/recolhe/aceita pessoas que respeitem estar dentro de ambientes de cores. Para além deste bairro existe o "Red", bairro de extrema violência, o Centre, para os Actioneers (que não conseguem parar de pensar em trabalho) e entre outros o "Stable", um bairro isolado do resto dos outros bairros. A segregação selectiva através da divisão dum mundo por bairros é fascinante e mostra até onde o nosso egoísmo nos poderá levar. Mas mais fascinante é o processo de busca pelo nosso heroí dum "Actioneer" desparecido e as implicações que isso pode ter para todos, em especial sabendo nós que não se pode voltar atrás nunca => "Only Forward"
  bruc79 | Jul 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Marshall Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jaspersen, KnudCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my family - David, Margaret and Tracey - and in memory of Mr. Cat
First words
Once there was a boy in a house.
Quotations
You haven't seen untidiness until you've seen a room where gravity has failed twice in different directions.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553579703, Mass Market Paperback)

Only a handful of authors write with such startling originality that the uniqueness of their vision has become synonymous with their name. In Spares and One of Us, Michael Marshall Smith has earned that distinction. In this unsettling, suspenseful, and wildly imaginative novel he's written a tale that from page one hurtles us....


Call him Stark. If you have to. If you're lucky, you won't call him at all. Because if you do, it means you've got trouble. Big trouble. And the problem is that before Stark is done fixing something, a whole lot of other things usually get broken. Like laws and lives—and anyone who gets in the way. It's that attitude that's earned him his latest assignment: finding a missing VIP named Fell Alkland. The authorities believe Alkland has been kidnapped. Stark doesn't. He hasn't stayed alive this long without learning the basics of survival in a world hurtling straight to hell: Things are always more complicated than they seem. And when a job seems too easy, that's when something really ugly is about to happen. For Fell Alkland is about to become Stark's worst nightmare, a nightmare where anything can happen at any time—where friends can become enemies in a heartbeat and your most secret fear a soul-screaming reality. And the worst of it is that for this nightmare you don't even have to be asleep.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:31 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When a senior member of Action Center disappears, the authorities hire Stark to find him. Stark succeeds in his mission"and then the trouble begins.

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