Luna-1 is spiralling
out of control, with rioting widespread, and a mysterious pirate station inciting
the people to break the law. Who are you gonna call? When you think about it,
the reason for sending Dredd to Luna-1 is pretty flimsy. You would think that
the Judges there could handle a bit or civil unrest themselves... but no, they
need the big guy to sort it out, and who are we to argue?
Swallow is not
a stranger to the world of Dredd, having previously written two of the Big Finish
audios: Dreddline and Jihad. The former of these even gets a nod during the course
of the novel. Writing a novel though, is a world away from writing an hour long
audio adventure. I'm not saying one is more difficult than the other, just that
they are different disciplines. So, can Mr. Swallow write a novel?
For the most part, yes he can.
First off, he does
good Dredd. There are one or two moments I wasn't sure about, but mostly, Dredd
is well written, with some good dry one-liners. The story for the most part, is
a detective tale, and Swallow has assembled quite a team to carry out the investigation.
Dredd is cast in a role as head of the team of detectives.
And it is in this
team the strength of the book resides. In particular, two of the characters, a
Brit-Cit and an African Judge, were very good. In fact, I found myself waiting
for some of the bits with Dredd in them to end, so I could get back to find out
what these two where up to. If Swallow writes another Dredd novel, I wouldn't
mind catching up with these two again. But as well as the newer members of the
cast, it is a chance to catch up with old friends, Judge Marshal Tex and the John
Smith creation, SJS Judge Kessler both make welcome returns to the fold. It's
hard to believe that it's been more than twenty years since Dredd made Tex permanent
Marshal of the Moon...
I described this
book as a detective story, which is true, but it's a Dredd one at the same time,
and that means violence. Violence is something that the author writes well, there
are quite a few big action set-pieces scattered through the book. The one major
problem is this: I don't think the author could decide what audience he was writing
for. In places, this book reads almost like a Dredd primer, with Swallow wearing
his research on his sleeve at certain points. Indeed to begin with, I thought
this book could almost be labelled 'New Readers Start Here'. Then, in other sections,
the book almost requires a Logan-like knowledge of the world of Dredd.
Now it's time for
me to go out on a big limb. I e-mailed Black Flame to ask them about my theory,
but did not receive a reply. So, do I use this to fuel my paranoia, or assume
there is an innocent reason behind it? Whatever, on with the theory. We all know
that SOMETHING BIG is going to happen in Dredd's world in a few months. Let's
just say that stuff happens in this book. Perhaps Swallow is setting it up for
another book, perhaps they are just loose ends. But maybe, just maybe...
One way or another,
come the autumn, I'll either look stupid, or be hailed as a prophet.
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