Thick as Thieves is a pulpy adventure SF tale about a burly soldier-turned-tavern bouncer, Brick, who makes the mistake of agreeing to a simple plan and gets involved over his head in a heist. Although Lizzi is really telling more of an Elmore Leonard-style crime story than a straight heist. Lizzi gives us a quick, pulpy read (234 pages) that comes with surprisingly depth, economically doled out in small bits. It is a fun story, if not one that blew me away.
Since I spend a lot of time at the other site writing about crime fiction, this would seem directly in my wheelhouse. And it is, in theory. In practice, though, I wonder how insurmountable the challenges are to writing really effective crime fiction in a second world. I’ve written about some great SF at Hillbilly Highways, but every SF book I’ve posted on has been set in our world. Great crime fiction needs a certain cultural context, I think. There is a reason I love country noir, after all, and in particular that set in rural, Southern Appalachia. A storyteller could, in theory, construct this and give us the context on the fly in incredibly economical bites . . . but that is a tall order and that would be a truly masterful storyteller. I want to read that book! But even a very good storyteller could not quite pull it off.
And Lizzi did impress me. There is obviously a lot of knowledge and understanding of disparate phenomenon lurking underwater here. That is something that can really enhance SF done right. Comprehension of the mechanics of how the world and people work then fulfills the same sort of role in SF that observation of humanity and culture does in crime fiction. There is some depth here that caught my eye, even if the plot was good-but-not-great.
4 of 5 Stars.
Ken Lizzi on Appendix N.