|ISBN-10: 0765306115 ISBN-13: 9780765306111 Published: Tor Books, 05/07/2013 Pages: 304 Language: English|
Bewilderment is a sought-after effect rather than a flaw in this sub-genre, and Nasir thankfully avoids all forms of authorly hand-holding. His prose is spare and the exposition is practically non-existent, while his ideas are vast and ambitious. What it really feels like is William Gibson's brutal efficiency married to Philip K. Dick's LSD-fueled surrealism. It's a heady combination, so prepare to read passages over and over again to decipher gnomic phrases-- for example, one chapter begins "While it was slightly unusual to be wearing anonymizing gear in a neighborhood zoned to exclude infopush..."
The payoff is worth it, though. Nasir is concerned less with plot-driven mysteries than existential ones, and the entire back half of the book is a meditation on mortality. If you think spirituality is no-go territory in science fiction, Tunnel Out of Death will convince you otherwise. Instead of mutants with guns, Nasir's protagonist is threatened by paranoia, ennui, and the conflict between his mind and the needy meat-sacks that happen to carry it around. Also, there are mutants with guns. It's stuff you can seriously ponder, without being seriously ponderous (if I end up leaving this sentence in, you will know I have no shame). This book is kind of like what I imagine Jim Morrison thought of drugs: hallucinatory, mind-opening, and damn good stuff.