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  1.  (10964.21)
    I really enjoyed this book a lot. Warren Ellis does such a great job of creating compelling characters, and I love the use of humor and sometimes vulgar :) descriptions to break up some of the tension in a scene. I'd like to see more stories with the detective, he's a great character. So were the CSU detectives.
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2013
    You can watch them all this autumn on FOX :-)
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2013
    i've re-read 'crooked little vein', then dove straight into 'gun machine'. finished now.
    a couple of thoughts - *NO SPOILERS*:

    - it's rather minimalistic.
    not in its style, but in its scope. it might seem full of information and background. but it's all actually quite focussed on the prota-/antagonist relationship and their respective (symbolic) connection to manhattan.

    - it's not really about people but about a place.
    at least, that's how i felt about it. sure, the characters move the plot and colour it, but in my first reading the star of the show seems to have been manhattan and its history as channeled through ellis' cast. in that respect it was vaguely reminiscent of moore's 'voice of the fire'.

    - it did not feel anticlimatic to me.
    seems that many thought the novel's ending left a lot to be desired, which i do not want to disagree with, as that's a very subjective and personal thing. however, to me it seemed like a very natural, organic way to resolve the crime fiction facet of the novel. as in: 'crimes were committed. crimes were solved. thank you, good night.'

    - it's very masculinistic.
    which is a thing with mr. ellis, i suppose. most of his writing has a strong masculinistc tinge to it, even though he's usually concerned to offset this by diffusing social gender issues. as he has done in 'gun machine' through the very likeable duo of supporting characters to the protagonist. but even one of them is actually masculinist fantasy manifest (partially, at least), so the point stands. ok, no, wait, while writing this i realized that what i'm perceiving is not 'masculinism' in the current, strictly scientifical meaning of the term, but a, well, perhaps 'neo masculinism', where the images (and imaginings) of masculinist worldview have been uncoupled from biological gender views and attributed to the social male gender (in all its varieties). sort of 'hyper social-sex-chauvinism'. does that make sense? i guess, i need to mull this over a little bit more. feedback very welcome.

    - it is a movie script.
    seriously, you could turn this into a movie straight off the book. i'm not a script writer, so i'm sure i'm wrong about that, but from a layperson's point of view it seems that 'gun machine' just screams to be wed to a visual medium with minimum effort.

    - it's quite enjoyable.
    was hooked from the beginning and it wouldn't let me go until the last page. i even found myself longing to be reading the book, when i was doing other, more pressing and important things (such as continuing my work, which pays my bills, of which i have many). that, in conclusion, is (imo) the most vital key to discern 'good' from 'bad' books. (by which i mean: books that i want to read and those i do not.)

    and now a little tangent that came to while going through the novels and i hope some of you will share their thoughts on with me (it might dilute this thread a bit, so if you feel this is something that many of you want to get into, we should move it to a seperate thread):
    i used to think that warren ellis is this steel-skinned lizard warlock, this streetwise cyber-shaman, who walks through shadow culture (at large and in detail) without being much touched or impressed by it. a monitor of sorts that conjures connections and information, where it was hard to see before. sometimes very intelligent, sometimes not so much. always interesting. i have the impression that most of his work, at the very least his more iconic output, has a ritualistic aspect to it. it's very obvious in 'crooked little vein', it's a theme in 'gun machine', it's the modus operandi of spider jerusalem throughout the entirety of 'transmetropoltan', 'supergod' looks at the fallout of a ritual gone awry, there's the process of ritualisation in 'doktor sleepless' and 'global frequency', i believe 'the authority' and 'planetary' and 'desolation jones' make strong use of symbols of ritualistic empowerment to fuel the main characters. and so on and so forth. but now something gestates in my brain: i used to think that all of this was to help visualize the cultural traits of the symbols and tropes and themes he was using for our benefit, for the 'uninitiated' who cannot see like he does, but now i'm suddenly thinking that, no, it's actually the other way round. i'm thinking that warren ellis is deathly afraid of all these 'others', these various sundry of human culture(s) and would love if he could freeze it all in place, but that he's fortunately brave and smart enough to realize that to be a tremendously stupid idea and instead chose to dive into it all, even become a futurist for it, and channel it in a ritualistic manner as to get a grip on it and not be afraid of having no control... yeah, i'm not sure where i'm headed with this...
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2013
    I'm about half-way through, and enjoying it.

    Regarding PLACE:

    Here and there I wonder about certain settings, like an abandoned hardware store. Even in crummy parts of Manhattan, retail places are too valuable to leave around. But that's just a tiny nit.

    Mostly, there's this: I used to commute, every goddamn day, from my parents' house on Long Island to Rockland County . . . up along the Hudson and across a bridge.

    I got, over many years, a feeling or impression of the land around the Hudson. The great forested hills on either side of the river, the rock outcroppings vegetation and seasons. And it dawned on me that Manhattan, that extraordinarily artificial place, was once like all-that.

    A wild place, then a thinly settled place.

    Clinton-deWitt's leveling of the place was an extraordinary thing, both ghastly and wonderous, the virtual elimination of wildness and landscape over most of the island, turning land into a machine of sorts. When I visit, I think about the land-that-was.

    So. The Hunter's odd visions aren't so odd to me. (NB: Nothing else about the guy is remotely relatable.)

    If your library has the DVD set, I highly recommend Burns' PBS series about New York. By European standards New York is a young city . . . but what history there is, is astonishing. The New York of old photographs, that's not even the end of the beginning.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2013
    Read it, liked it, need to read it again. Ending seemed a bit sparse and left things unexplained that i had hoped would have been. I too noticed the Ellis voice breaking through once or twice, i wasn't upset by it, nor by a little exposition here or there, the story had momentum enough to carry my interest through any little rough patches.

    One thing i noticed above anything else; for a story set in Manhattan, there were an awful lot of little nods to Whitechapel scattered through it. He is a fine and interesting gent, yer Warren Ellis.
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2013
    Finished it this morning, enjoyed it a great deal. As others have said, it's still got Warren's prints all over it, but it's not nearly as "RAAGH GOOD MORNING SINNERS WHERE IS MY RED BULL AND CANE AND SILK CUTS" as Crooked Little Vein was. As was said upthread, it felt honed, and better for it in my opinion.

    One of the things I really liked was the ending, in that there was a real sense of humanity there. It would have been easy to
    kill off the hunter, but I think that keeping him alive and recognising that he was in need of treatment added a nice dash of compassion to an otherwise brutal tale.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2013
    Finished the night before last.

    What curb said.

    One minor aspect of the book, not really plot related but atmospheric, struck me as . . . unrealistic?
    I grew up on Long Island. We got NYC's TV stations, and the city was the center of the local news and cultural universe, really.

    Occasionally, in Gun Machine, Tallow tunes into the police scanner, and hears horrible, horrible stories. Awful murders, maimings, people eaten by rats and dogs, etcetera. We get the idea that this is a usual thing, one of the things slowly wearing Tallow down.

    Now, look, NYC is a major American city, and gets its fair share of awful crimes, but I think I can authoritatively say that any one of those horror stories would set the city back on its heels. 24-7 coverage, editorials in the Daily News.

    I know, this is part of Warren's shtick, and I liked it in Transmetropolitan and Crooked Little Vein, but it was a little jarring in Gun Machine, which seems like a more realistic novel.

    That quibble aside, I liked it a lot. I would love, love to see these characters in a movie or TV series. The latter of which I think is a thing, right?
  2.  (10964.28)
    Well damn, finished the book a couple of days ago, and it's my second favourite Ellis piece after Transmetropolitan. Loved the atmosphere and the pacing almost to the end, which felt a little bit abrupt, but it didn't really bother me that much. Was left waiting for some piece of escalation or turnaround before the third act, but hmh. Really worth reading as crime fiction goes!