Jon Armstrong's "Grey"
By stern on Apr 24, 2008
I finished Jon Armstrong's sci-fi novel Grey last night and all I can say is "Wow." I can see why it was nominated for the 2007 Philip K. Dick Award, and at times it reminded me of Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe, William Gibon's Idoru and Pattern Recognition, the Fake Steve Jobs blog and my own horrible sense of fashion, dumped into a blender and set to "puree". It's set in a world in which fashion, heavy metal music, and family politics are all taken to extremes -- a world which is entirely plausible. Armstrong's descriptions of the talking heads on "channels" as forward extrusions of bloggers, and his exquisite use of detail in describing what passes for haute couture are alone worth a few nights spent reading the book. They provide a balance to the violent, morally upsetting scenes through the book, all of which are seen through the protagonist's fashion goggles. I got more than a few chuckles along the way, and I'm convinced that if I were truly able to use radioactive elements as fashion accents (as several characters do) that my inability to pair ties and suits might be overlooked.