Irontown Blues – John Varley



On the moon, a hard-boiled detective and his dog are hired to find justice for a mysterious woman nefariously infected with a virus. Naturally, they find more than they anticipated.


I’m a fan of some of John Varley’s work. The Gaea Trilogy was an eye opener for me, but I also loved The Golden Globe. I liked The Ophiuchi Hotline and the Thunder and Lightning series but wasn’t bowled over by them. Still, Varley doesn’t write a lot, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I picked it up. It fits fairly well in the ‘liked, but didn’t love’ box.

Irontown is listed as an Eight Worlds novel, which is apparently a shared universe including The Golden Globe and Steel Beach, though I hadn’t known it. Despite having read one (perhaps both) of those books, this felt very much like a sequel – heavy on references to the backstory. It was well presented and not confusing, but it often felt like an inside joke.

The story is told in part from the viewpoint of the dog, and, rather to my surprise, that worked fairly well, as does the narrator’s own self-deprecating humor. The society is reasonably credible, if thinly sketched. Unfortunately, the plot is just as thin. A good part of it is told in flashbacks, and significant portions are told only by implication. There’s quite a bit of reliance on happy coincidence. Overall, it was mildly amusing, but I didn’t really come away with anything. It was effective time filler, but a story that will vanish from memory almost immediately.

I received a free copy of this
book in exchange for an honest review.

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