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Version 43, by Philip Palmer

Just finished reading Version 43, by Philip Palmer, a really good surprise.

The premise is very classic: a cybernetic cop is sent to a distant planet to investigate a particularly horrific crime. As the planet is populated only by convicts exiled from the solar system (and their descendants), suspects are none too few… and the cop is more than happy to reduce the local crime rate by shooting anyone who resists.

But the story gradually goes completely bonkers, first because the cop tends to challenge all of his previous insights every time he is killed and rebooted (which happens more than a few times – he is Version 43 initially, but we’ll end up with Version 55), but also because… No, better to leave you all the fun.

Overall it’s a very nice, light-hearted novel, somewhere between Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat and Douglas AdamsHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As an added bonus, it’s also very amusing to witness how Palmer has managed to revive the “Pulp” style and themes.

Highly recommended.