Thursday, September 07, 2006

John Ridley's noir with a sci-fi kick

This is Soledad O'Roark. This is Bullet; the girl with the gun who'd been an operator on an element that'd taken out a telepath. Taken it out, mostly thanks to the gun. Hers. She'd been BAMF a record number of occasions in a record short span of time. This was one of the best cops ever to wear a shield.

So writes John Ridley of the LAPD's top mutant-hunter in What Fire Cannot Burn, the sequel to Those Who Walk in Darkness, O'Roark's debut appearance. O'Roark is among my elite group of the "coolest women in crime fiction written by men."

I don't read much science-fiction and I don't know what the sci-fi cognoscenti make of these books by Ridley, but I love them as terrific noir fiction that just happens to have a sci-fi kick.

About Those Who Walk in Darkness, from the publisher:

Officer Soledad "Bullet" O'Roark loathes her nickname--and the notoriety it represents. She didn't join L.A.P.D's elite M-Tac squad to fight the Brass or make rookie cops idolize her. She joined M-Tac to kill freaks.

Freaks, muties, metanormals--back in the day, they were called superheroes. They had amazing powers, lurid costumes, and snappy names: Nightshift, Civil Warrior, Nubian Princess, The Giggler. They seemed to be saviors and gods. But where there are heroes, there are villains. When a clash of superheroes and supervillains destroys San Francisco, the normal human population decides it will no longer live like spectators at the foot of Mt. Olympus.

Superhumans are now outlawed and hunted by cops. But it isn't easy to take down beings who are invulnerable or intangible, have super-strength or super-speed, or can throw flames from their body or telepathically control minds. The mortality rate for M-Tac units is nearly fifty percent--per mission. That's why Soledad has
customized hi-tech, unauthorized, very special ammo. Each freak has a different weakness, and her color-coded clips are designed to exploit every one of them. Soon Soledad is racking up a body count that makes her a legend on the force--and a nightmare in the freak underground.

But when Soledad guns down a radiant woman who can heal the sick, reverse catastrophes, and then fly away on great white wings, the cop may be starting the final war between normals and metanormals. Because Bullet O'Roark didn't just shoot down a freak. According to all witnesses, she's killed an angel.

For the inaugural post of the blog's "coolest women in crime fiction written by men" series, click here.

For John "Dawg" Pickard's case for "science fiction as literature," click here.

--Marshal Zeringue