Red Noise

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Pub Date Jul 14 2020 | Archive Date May 08 2020

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Caught up in a space station turf war between gangs and corrupt cops, a lone asteroid miner decides to take them all down.

Broke and out of fuel, a wildcat asteroid miner comes to Station 35 looking to sell her cargo and get back to the life of solitude she craves. Instead, the cheating thieves who run the place leave her deep in debt.

Desperate to get away, she finds herself swept up in a three-way standoff between gangs and crooked cops. Faced with the decision to take sides or clean out the Augean Stables, she breaks out the flamethrower...

File Under: Science Fiction [ Jane Got a Gun | Gangster's Paradise | Debts and Deceptions | There Shall Be Blood ]
Caught up in a space station turf war between gangs and corrupt cops, a lone asteroid miner decides to take them all down.

Broke and out of fuel, a wildcat asteroid miner comes to Station 35 looking...

Advance Praise

'This fast, fun space western is pure entertainment' - Publishers Weekly

'A snarky, grungy, hyperkinetic space romp that reads like a Neal Stephenson novel collided with a VHS copy of A Fistful of Dollars at high speed.' - Marko Kloos, author of the Frontlines series.

'Stylish, funny, action-packed, cinematic, Red Noise is the wise-cracking, gravity-defying, bullet-lasering Yojimbo-in-space you've been waiting for.' - Ken Liu, award-winning author of The Grace of Kings

'This fast, fun space western is pure entertainment' - Publishers Weekly

'A snarky, grungy, hyperkinetic space romp that reads like a Neal Stephenson novel collided with a VHS copy of A Fistful of...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780857668479
PRICE $14.99 (USD)

Average rating from 25 members

Featured Reviews

An excellent example of "show, don't tell" writing. Absolutely no info dumps. Its action, dialogue and a bit of internal monologue. Set in a single solar system, presumably ours, it is a space opera with action on a personal scale. Reminiscent of a western movie such as Silverado or High Noon.

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Do you want a wild ride from start to finish? You've found it. Red Noise is a zany sci-fi western that sees a badass woman called The Miner roll into town - er, a space station - where the locals make the mistake of ticking her off. Chaos ensues.

I had so much fun reading this. Action and shocking twists - and sometimes it even tickled my funny bone. I quite liked this book. But I did wish there was a bit more world-building - or galaxy-building, as it were. I didn't feel like I had any grasp on the broader setting.

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Red Noise is very good space opera with gang wars and badass main character.

The Miner - our protagonist - decides to dock her ship at station 35 to fuel and make some money. There she finds out that the place is abandoned except three gangs with three heads of power leading them. They fight each other constantly, making a station a living hell.
So she decides to bring them all down.

As a plot is decent, the characters are what keep this book alive. The most interesting is of course our protagonist - The Miner - who we know almost nothing about. She definitely has a rich past. She has a lot of scars that can prove it. She's also intelligent and pretty badass in combat.

But still we don't know almost anything about her. There are scrapes of her story here and there, but nothing solid. And I think that was my main issue with this book, and that's why I give it 4 not 5 stars. The Miner is great, but you can't create such interesting character and tell us that she obviously suffered some loses without giving us a full backstory. I want to know what happened to her and why she became who she is now.

I have no more complaints. This book is well-paced with a good kind of humour we encounter along the way.

4 stars

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Raucous mashup of Kill Bill, Westside Story and Tombstone (the Kurt Russell one). Great lines, for instance:

“Somewhere, the Miner could have sworn she heard a chainsaw rev.”

“Where the fuck did you get the grenade? Are you out of your mind? Then she ruined the Miner’s comeback by passing out.”

Whatever you do, don’t forget to check your guns at Station 35’s airlock!

No one knows who Jane is but she’s a miner, an augmented special forces operative and she’s here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and she’s all out of bubblegum. She has an unknown backstory that’s merely alluded to and I can’t wait to hear about.

Fun story, snappy dialogue full of mayhem, hand grenades, a nuke or two, swords, sex, drugs and rock and roll (if play heavy metal while you read) - what more do you need?

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A clear homage to Japanese samurai films (and, by extension American Westerns). Like those movies, the novel starts off with "the mysterious stranger" entering a corrupt town; in this case, the town is a near-abandoned and sparsely-populated space station. There are three leaders vying for control (including the cops, with a moustachioed "sheriff"), though none are ideal rulers. The stranger, only called The Miner decides to lend her particular brand of assistance. With a sword.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t really get was why. In the films, the character is a trope, but this novel (while I was completely addicted to it), suffers a bit with regards to the miner’s motivation. We don’t learn enough about her to understand why she wouldn’t just leave. It never felt to me like she was trapped (by money or other reasons), as she always seemed to have an answer or the ability to escape whatever situation she found herself in. There were attempts to have her wrestle with leaving, but there wasn’t enough of that or it didn’t go deep enough. I get that in the movies the character doesn’t need such a rationale, but from a book I expected a bit more.

At the same time, I really liked how we don’t learn that much about her - just little tidbits here and there - it kept her mysterious and each reveal was a fun surprise.

I loved the dialogue, the diversity, the general degraded ambience of the station, and how no one was sacred in terms of violence bestowed upon them. Yet the three leaders, and Mary and Raj, needed more background; I found I didn’t care much about them as people, though they were fun to read about.

The book is an absolute blast. I loved the amount of women in the novel and the dark humour (I laughed out loud quite a few times). The dynamic between the bartender and his regular (another Western trope - the saloon!) was so much fun, as were the action scenes.

You don’t need to know/like Westerns to find this a fun, gritty, action-packed adventure that just happens to be set in space.

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Pondering the big mysteries of life and asking philosophical questions are things that science fiction does very well. But sometimes, you just want a big old scrap. In space, if at all possible. And wouldn’t you know it, John P. Murphy has given us just that. Red Noise is the story of a lone badass interposing herself between two warring gangs and looking to make a tidy profit off each of them as they escalate the conflict, with bloody skirmishes leading to even bloodier showdowns.

If this sounds familiar, it’s no surprise - Walter Hill’s prohibition-era Western Last Man Standing and Leone’s Spaghetti Western classic A Fistful of Dollars sprang to mind as I was reading, and doubtless others will be able to bring to mind more examples of this setup than I can. But there’s a reason why the same stories come around again and again - it’s because, done right, they’re a hell of a lot of fun.

And damn, Red Noise is fun.

Putting his own twist on those Western tropes, Murphy transfers the action from the usual dusty boardwalks and corrals to Station 35, a former military installation built into an asteroid. Our drifter hero is, quite literally, drifting, as she’s an ore miner looking to offload her cargo and resupply. With no other stations within her fuel range, she’s forced to dock at Station 35, a location soon to be made infamous by her actions. Witnessing the situation that the inhabitants are enduring - one of warring gangs and corrupt law enforcement, as well as having been thoroughly ripped off herself, “The Miner” downs tools and straps on her sword to right some wrongs, and maybe get a decent payday while she’s at it. Yeah, that’s right, she’s the woman with no name too. Perfect.

What unfolds is some highly entertaining, rapid-fire fun, with a cast of colourful thugs and crime bosses, sympathetic characters stuck in the middle of it all and more foul language than I could have wished for in my most puerile dreams. Seriously, there are some very colourful insults in there, it’s really a lot of fun. With the dapper Feeney in his rundown hotel and his traitorous former enforcer Angelica Del Rio in her captured casino, a lot more than insults end up flying across the galleria that separates them though. The action is stylish and cinematic, particularly as station rules prohibit firearms, allowing The Miner to show off her augmented close combat abilities as she slices and dices her way through more than her fair share of goons. There are plenty of nice touches to her meathead opponents too, whether it be a description of their interesting cosmetic gene modifications, their piercings, or their armament. All of this helps flesh out the world and give us more little details about it, and it’s done very subtly.

Things don’t proceed in quite the straightforward way you might expect them to either, with plenty of twists and turns through the winding corridors of Station 35, as deals are made and broken and other players enter the game with their own agendas. Uneasy alliances made before The Miner’s arrival are tested, and The Miner will need her wits to be as sharp as her sword if she’s to survive the machinations of either side unscathed. There’s a lot of attention given to the consequences of The Miner’s actions, as the rival gangs attempt to work out what her angle is and whether or not they can trust her, with some really nicely developed character arcs in there too. As likeable as The Miner is, she is very much a character who has done a whole lot of living already, resulting in her being the infinitely cool weary loner that she is, but one that doesn’t really have much reason to change in terms of her character. Bringing in these other characters and developing their arcs makes this a much more satisfying story than it otherwise might have been - not that it isn’t fun to see a lethal veteran take on some cannon fodder, but it could have been a bit one-note. Happily, that isn’t the case at all.

Cartoonish, stylish and slick, Red Noise is just as much fun as I hoped it would be, with a satisfying conclusion and plenty of sardonic, detached cool to boot. If this was Murphy’s A Fistful of Credits, here’s hoping we get For a Few Credits More.

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Red Noise reminds me of the old westerns I watched as a kid - a stranger gets into town, tangles with the local corrupt law and criminals, and decides it's their mission to clean up the town. John P. Murphy does a great job of maintaining that ambience - his stoic protagonist goes about her self-assigned mission with dedication and a willingness to do what it takes to accomplish her goal. Along the way, Murphy expands upon her history and the history of those around her, including the station, without heavy-handed exposition or asides. A clean read, Red Noise could be the start of a great series (like the Dollars Trilogy of Clint Eastwood fame) or a fantastic stand-alone novel.

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An highly entertaining, fast paced and action packed story that I loved.
The author can surely write a story that will keep you hooked.
The world building is interesting, the plot flows and the characters are interesting.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

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There is a certain type of film that I love. It has a central character wronged in some way and this gives them the flimsy premise to basically kill all the bad guys. Death Wish, John Wick, The Equaliser, to name but a few. Red Noise by John P Murphy is the science fiction equivalent with a dark slice of humour throughout. Who would not want to land on a remote space station full of the Universe’s worst reprobates and then take the trash out? It would help if you are a former member of Special Forces tricked out with the latest military augmentations.

At first, she is simply a miner who lands at Station 35 for a routine drop off. On arrival, things start off badly when the corrupt Customs Agent charges her too much for landing fees and things are about to get worse. Station 35 is no longer a functioning mining station but instead its denizens are all from two criminal factions or the dodgy police force. To make enough money to get off Station 35, the miner is going to have to become the Miner and rely on skills she has left dormant for a while. These skills are to manipulate, maim and kill.

Red Noise is a book that has a lot of killing in it and an antihero at the centre who is not always that easy to like. And I loved it. The book is not played for laughs, but those that remain on board the station is mostly made up from those not clever enough for Mad Max, you cannot help but chuckle at their stupidity. When someone as competent and experienced as the Miner enters their world, there is only going to be one winner and they are not even aware yet.

The book is not a relentless gorefest as there are reasons behind why the Miner does what she does. Like John Wick’s dog, there are reasons for her to seek revenge. At first, she is happy to leave, but they just won’t let her. More fool them. The great thing about the character of the Miner is that she is an introvert but also a psychopath. Her past means that she has no problems exacting maximum damage to achieve her goals, even if this may leave a hole open to the vacuum of space.

Although central to the plot and driver of most of the narrative, there are other characters we get to meet and spend some time with. The leaders of the two faction, some henchmen and a bartender who just wants to make a living once again. Murphy create a space station that feels like it existed before the Miner arrived and will carry on after, if she is ever able to leave. There is a sense of it being lived in and worn down over time.
The entire Universe of Red Noise feels a little battered and weary. Rather than these making things depressing, it makes it more amusing. Think Red Dwarf as the tech starts to slowly break down over time. You get the sense that over on Station 36 they will have all the mod cons, but here on Station 35 you must make do with punks smashing up the place for fun.

The tone of the book is kept quite light just by most of the characters being stupid or half baked. At the core, the family relationships are almost Shakespearean, but we are provided melee weapons rather than iambic pentameter for our entertainment. You get to know and even like some of these characters, but many go the way of Tybalt and exit stage left before the book closes. This gives a sense of tension, as although a character may be daft, you still root for them.

The greatest asset of the book remains the Miner. She is that classic women with no name, entering a situation without baggage or loyalty. Constantly she takes actions that stir the hornets' nest and another great action sequence or fight breaks out. Among all the fisticuffs, Murphy still finds time to develop the characters. The Miner does have small changes of heart throughout the book, but thankfully she never deviates too much from her anarchic nature.

Despite of, or maybe because of, the abundance of violence, swearing, drinking and drug taking in Red Noise, the book is one of the most fun I have read in a while. It is so outlandish in parts as to be comedic but never forgets to build relational dynamics that make sense and give purpose to character’s actions. The Miner herself is a joy to follow. Any fan of revenge mission films, or books, will find a world they will love, with the bonus of some black comedy.

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An asteroid miner, looking to refuel and stock up on necessities such as food and, water, and oxygen, heads to the nearest space station (Station #35) with a cargo of ore to sell, which should get her enough to purchase her supplies. The Miner (as she is named throughout the book) is met be the station's self-described 'welcoming committee' who try to intimidate her with a show of strength and a slough of fees for services for services that may or may not be rendered.

A corrupt stationmaster is not entirely unexpected and The Miner is willing to pay the ridiculous fees and receive a less than standard take for her ore - in part because she's not sure she can make it to the next station on the fuel and oxygen she's got, and there's no telling if the next station isn't just as, or more, corrupt than where she's at.

But the 'locals' don't exactly leave The Miner alone (which they will come to regret) since she's new blood on the station and she doesn't look like she would put up much of a fight. The Miner then finds herself in the middle of a three-way stand-off among the station administrators, law enforcement, and engineers. She will choose a side, then switch, and play them all against one another until they come together with a common goal - to get rid of her.

This was one of those books that came as a total surprise to me. I knew nothing of the author and read no descriptions prior to starting the book. It's published by Angry Robot and they are a publisher from whom I will typically read everything they put out, and I do it precisely for this reason - to find something new that I will really enjoy.

In essence, this is a 'western' story turned space opera where the confident gunslinger walks into a quiet town and rescues the innocent locals from the various threats. Except this gunslinger is a woman with a katana (Japanese sword).

The story is fine. We can predict a little bit what will happen, though author John P. Murphy does bring in new sources of conflict at just the right times, but what really makes this book soar is the characters. The Miner is fantastic. Think of Clint Eastwood as the Character With No Name in <em>The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly</em> - appropriate not only because we know her only as The Miner (no name) but also because of her confidence and her very evident abilities. The town she saves is Station 35, and despite a three-way fight between the locals, there's still a resident or two who are worth saving.

The Miner's got some bad-ass skills, and a little bits of her past are revealed through the course of the book ... just enough to satisfy this reader, but also with just enough mystery still that another book is easy to anticipate.

This is not a 'cozy' story - there's a lot of blood shed on and around Station 35, most (but not all) of it inflicted by The Miner. But it's not graphically detailed and we definitely understand that The Miner would rather the antagonists lay down their weapons and walk away, but that she'll fight to kill if given no option.

Murphy's writing is tight and deliberate and it is very easy to fall into this book and not want to leave until the last page is read. I had a great deal of fun here and The Miner is the kind of hero (heroine) that a reader can really rally behind.

Looking for a good book? <em>Red Noise</em> by John P. Murphy is exciting space opera with great characters. If you like westerns in space or adventurous sci-fi where the good guys win and the bad guys lose, then you'll love this book.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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