JEDEDIAH BERRY THE MANUAL OF DETECTION PDF

These days, you can barely pick up a speculative fantasy without finding a zeppelin or a steam-robot on the cover. Containing few punks and a good many posh ladies and gents, most of these stories are better described as steam operas. Cyberpunks were what the likes of Bruce Sterling and William Gibson called themselves when first signalling their break with conventional SF. What identified cyberpunk was a sophisticated interest in current events, a guess that the Pacific Rim might soon become the centre of world politics, a keen curiosity about the possibilities of post-PC international culture and a love of noir detective fiction. Characteristically, cyberpunk revived the noir thriller and might as easily be considered a development of the mystery as of science fiction. Airships also appear in The Golden Compass and Watchmen, among other recent movies: they signify you are in an alternate reality.

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These days, you can barely pick up a speculative fantasy without finding a zeppelin or a steam-robot on the cover. Containing few punks and a good many posh ladies and gents, most of these stories are better described as steam operas.

Cyberpunks were what the likes of Bruce Sterling and William Gibson called themselves when first signalling their break with conventional SF.

What identified cyberpunk was a sophisticated interest in current events, a guess that the Pacific Rim might soon become the centre of world politics, a keen curiosity about the possibilities of post-PC international culture and a love of noir detective fiction.

Characteristically, cyberpunk revived the noir thriller and might as easily be considered a development of the mystery as of science fiction. Airships also appear in The Golden Compass and Watchmen, among other recent movies: they signify you are in an alternate reality. Once the wide world gets hold of an idea, however, it can only survive through knowing irony.

Its tools, its icons, its angle of attack are absorbed into the cultural mainstream. The genre has started to write about itself, the way Cat Ballou or Blazing Saddles addressed the western. Steampunk no longer examines context and history but now looks ironically at its own roots, tropes and cliches. Thankfully, it does it in a book as good as The Manual of Detection. Jedediah Berry has an ear well tuned to the styles of the detective story, and can reproduce atmosphere with loving skill.

The city in which this mystery is set is never named. There are brooding skyscrapers. Unwin is fascinated by a woman he sees at Central Terminal station, where he is recruited by a detective. Someone is murdered. A brooding sense of doom dogs him as he reluctantly uncovers not only a new and terrifying case but realises many earlier famous cases were not properly solved. In a world suddenly populated by somnambulists, everyone has their alarm clock stolen. The whole city is dreaming or falling asleep at odd times.

Even the hallowed Agency Manual, as Unwin discovers, contains mysteries. Larger threats and mysteries increase. Helped by an old museum guard and his own plucky girl assistant every detective is issued with one , and taking his life and sanity in his hands, Unwin proves a dogged investigator. Soon, he is forced to question the truth of the Manual itself.

By the end, almost too many mysteries are explained.

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The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

Even a quick perusal will tell you that The Manual of Detection is genre fiction. But the more deeply you dig into the book, the harder it is to decide which genre. The book constantly shifts gears from detective story to fantasy to science fiction to adventure tale and back again to mystery. Rarely have I encountered a novel that so insistently avoids confronting that most basic of questions: what kind of book is this? The story starts simply enough, and with all of the familiar trappings of the mystery tale. Charles Unwin is a clerk at the Agency, where he works filing paperwork for a famous detective. Yet one day Unwin is surprised to find that he has been promoted to the status of detective himself.

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