EMPIRE STATE is a blend of prohibition era shysters and superheroes ripped from the comic strip with a nod towards noir and the dime detective novels of the pulp era. There is also a liberal dose of sci-fi too with a multi dimensional New York/Empire State with access to and from via a fissure. This pocket and origin concept is a times confusing yet plausible within the limitations of Adam Christopher’s world he so craftily manufactures. Once I was able to get my head around it, the idea worked really well and added another ‘dimension’ to the characters.
Empire State is a city confined by a mysterious and everlasting fog, it’s in a perpetual state of wartime with fleet after fleet disembarking to join the war effort. The calendar spans back a mere 19 years with its inhabitants having no memory of their history. It’s a strange place which gets a whole lot stranger following the fusion of the cities when the Science Pirate is murdered and Rex, a gangster is plucked from New York straight into the heart of Empire State.
Rex’s Empire State counterpart (for each person in Empire State is a mirror of those in New York), Rad, is a private investigator tasked with discovering who is responsible for the murder of a young women with a distinct likeness to the Science Pirate. It’s this investigative angle that allows Christopher to fuse sci-fi with the common noir elements.
Personally I would’ve liked to have seen more of the prohibition era gangsters and speak easy establishments, however, the battles involving the superheroes and ever changing landscape between good and evil make up for this.
EMPIRE STATE is not an easily definable novel in terms of confining it within a single genre as there are simply too many facets and faces to the story Christopher tells. I found EMPIRE STATE to be mostly enjoyable if not a little confusing at times with some interesting characters and a unique place-setting. This is a must read for fans of superhero and sci-fi fiction.