I’ve got this thing for a guy named Spademan.
Armed with only a box cutter and a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, the former garbageman is out to save his corner of the world, and screw the rest of it.
I could continue to try and write this post in Adam Sternbergh’s sparse style, but will leave that to the expert.
The second book in Sternbergh’s post-apocalyptic series starring (not set in) New York City, “Near Enemy” features all the elements that made “Shovel Ready” a total guilty pleasure. There’s the hitman himself, the appropriately-named Spademan, who is thrust into a new career after garbage collection ends due to a two-pronged terrorist attack, which caused most city residents to flee or hole themselves up in their homes, where they plug into a new escapist universe called the linosphere. Spademan’s peers also find new ways to get by in the brave new world, whether it’s spying on the dreams of others in the limnosphere, guarding the vulnerable bodies of the wealthy while they’re plugged in, or joining forces with the new hierarchy in city government.
Sure, the story is far-fetched (or so I would like to hope). Sure, it’s told in an unflinching manner with a lack of subtlety, and I found that a significant amount of nuance could be found in the word choice. The truly incredible descriptions of dreams acted out in the limnosphere (or limn as the verbose Spademan calls it) are captivating, and the plot tears along at a fantastic pace, aided by the crisp and concise dialogue and rich imagery evoked from staggeringly few words.
There are computer geniuses and social outcasts, a baby born to a former church heiress, a convent overlooking Central Park, terrorists and hackers and some seriously badass villians with grotesque and unique methods of dispensing with other humans. If this series is ever made into a movie franchise I’d like to be consulted, because I can picture so much of it in my head and would prefer it’s handled correctly.
If you’ve never heard of Spademan and would like to get on board with an entertaining, gritty, and slightly tongue-in-cheek survival thriller, then go pick up “Shovel Ready.” They’re quick reads and you’ll be happy you started now.