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Authors: Adam Christopher

Empire State

BOOK: Empire State
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EMPIRE STATE
 
"Adam Christopher's debut novel is a noir, Philip K Dick
ish science fiction superhero story. It's often fascinating,
as captivating as a kaleidoscope… Just feel it in all its
weird glory."
  
C
ORY
D
OCTOROW
, New York Times-bestselling author of 
Makers
and
Little Brother
 
"Adam Christopher maintains a punchy, bestseller prose
style that keeps the action rocketing along...
Empire State
is an excellent, involving read, and it fully deserves to be
the start of a new universe."
  
P
AUL
C
ORNELL
,
Doctor Who
scriptwriter, and author of
Stormwatch
and
Demon Knights
 
"A daring, dreamlike, almost hallucinatory thriller, one
that plays with the conventions of pulp fiction and
superheroes like a cat with a ball of yarn."
  
K
URT BUSIEK
, Eisner Award-winning writer of
Astro City 
and
Marvels
 
"A double shot of jet-noir steampunk nitroglycerine – a
startling, throat-grabbing novel that echoes Chandler,
Auster and Mieville while blazing its own mind-bending
trail and searing itself onto your memory."
  W
ILL HILL
, author of
Department 19
 
"Destined to be a science fiction classic,
Empire State
is a breathtakingly original noir tale of intrigue, mystery, and quantum physics, deftly played out in storytelling so brilliant I’m finding it hard not to hate the author.”
  
D
IANA
R
OWLAND
, author of
My Life as a White Trash 
Zombie
 
"Adam Christopher's
Empire State
is a fascinating debut novel that meshes noir sensibilities and science fiction together and keeps the reader guessing throughout.”
  
M
ICHAEL STACKPOLE
,
New York Times-bestselling author of
I, Jedi
 
"From first to last page, Adam Christopher's
Empire State
careens along at a furious pace. Along the way, he beautifully meshes the best noir tropes with science fiction and wraps it up in a world (or two) that rivals some of the classics of speculative fiction.”
  J
OHN HORNOR JACOBS
,
author of
Southern Gods
 
"
Empire State
doesn't screw around. Murders, mysteries and multiple realities are just the icing atop this pulp noir cake: the action starts on the opening page but it isn’t long before you fall in love with the characters and the unique world Adam Christopher has built for them.”
  C
HUCK WENDIG
, author of
Double Dead
 
"From the first explosive rat-a-tat-tat of bullets to the very
last twist and turn,
Empire State
surely cannot be a début
novel. The fantastical dreams of Verne and Wells mixed
with the noir reality of Spillane or Chandler, this is a book
that doesn't play by the rules – and is all the better for it."
  
T
ONY LEE
,
New York Times-bestselling author and
Doctor 
Who
comic writer "
 
 
ADAM CHRISTOPHER
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
F
OR SANDRA
,
without whom
there is nothing
 
 
 
 
 
 
AUTHOR'S NOTE
 
 
New York City is an amazing and fantastical place, and it doesn't need an author like me to make it any more so. However, the Empire State is Manhattan reflected through a clouded lens, and I have exercised artistic licence where the story demanded. I hope the reader will forgive any liberties taken, be they geographical, topographical, or temporal.
 
 
 
 
 
 
PART ONE
THE MEAN STREETS
 
 
"Judge Crater, call your office," said the man with the microphone.
  Everybody laughed.
 
 
 
ONE
 
 
JEROME GUNNED THE ACCELERATOR, and turned sharp left. Rex slid on the bench seat, but grabbed the leather strap dangling over his door fast enough to stop him landing in the driver's lap. Jerome whistled, knuckles white as they gripped the wheel. Rex looked over his shoulder. He sure as hell hoped Jerome knew where he was going.
  "For cryin' out loud!" Rex winced as his head met the roof of the car, the thin felt of his hat providing little protection as Jerome pushed two wheels over the curb to dodge oncoming traffic.
  "Complain later, boss. Keep yer head down and hold on." Jerome's eyes didn't leave the road. Rex frowned and hunkered down in the seat, gripping the top edge with both hands as he turned to look out the back. Two crates of green bottles rattled in the back seat under Rex's nose as Jerome navigated the wet streets as fast as he dared.
  Rex squinted, trying to see through the smattering of rain on the car's tiny rear window, but the droplets of water seemed to pull the light of the city in, refracting it into a thousand glowing, multicoloured points. The car shuddered against the gutter as Jerome swerved around another obstacle, throwing up a huge steam-like spray of runoff, obscuring the view even more.
  "What's the deal?" Jerome asked.
  Rex relaxed his grip and turned back around. Jerome was leaning over the wheel, his keen, experienced eyes picking out the path ahead in the downtown traffic. It was late, but New Yorkers had a well-known disregard for the time of day. Jerome was doing a fine job threading the boat-sized Studebaker through the maze of cars, but surely their luck was going to run out. Somehow they'd managed to avoid the police, but they'd be spotted sooner rather than later. Evading one pursuer was possible; add two, three, four cop cars and the odds shortened, and not in their favour.
  "Looks clear," said Rex. "Think we lost 'em. Nice driving."
  Jerome allowed one thin hand to unwrap from the steering wheel to tip an invisible hat. His face cracked into a grin so wide all Rex could see was a row of teeth stretching up from the driver's chin to his ear.
  "How about that, huh? People movin' in, causin' trouble. How's an honest man supposed to make a living in this town, huh, Rex?"
  Rex sighed. "Tell me about it."
  Jerome laughed and slapped the wheel. He began talking, but Rex tuned it out. His night was not going as planned and his partner's jabber was the last thing he needed. Rex closed his eyes and rubbed their lids, watching the purple-orange shapes float for a while. Then something flared red across his vision.
  "Jerome!"
  Rex grabbed the wheel and pulled it hard right. The driver returned his attention to the road just in time to see the side of another car slide past, right across their path. Jerome spun the wheel in the opposite direction as Rex let go, negotiating the Studebaker around the rear of the vehicle mostly by good luck. Rex grabbed for the leather strap again as the car slid on its rear wheels.
  There was a
rat-a-tat-tat
like a jazz drummer practicing a solo on a tin roof, and the rear windshield exploded, filling the car with the hot smell of cordite. Rex ducked instinctively behind the seat, and when he poked his head up to check the rear view again he saw the white car in hot pursuit, two men inside and one perched on the running board on the passenger side. The man raised his tommy gun just for a moment as the car bumped over a pothole, then brought it down again. Rex ducked as a second volley of slugs peppered the car, splitting the Studebaker's front windshield right in front of him, turning the pane of glass into an opaque spider's web. The car lurched as Jerome pumped the accelerator and brake in quick succession in the confusion. It was like suddenly driving into a blizzard.
  "Rex!"
  Rex twisted awkwardly in the seat. "Yeah, I got it." He lay almost flat on his back, and raised his right leg up over the dash. A few kicks and the crumbling windshield popped out, sliding over the hood with the sound of a tortured blackboard.
  "Shit," muttered Jerome as he bobbed his head down, squinting against the stiff, wet wind. They were in a four-lane street now, which was completely clear ahead in both directions. The white car took the opportunity and revved behind them, headlights sweeping through the cab of the Studebaker as they pulled out and around.
  Rex jerked his head right, in time to see the prow of the other car begin to pull up alongside. The gunner, fortunately, was on the other side, but Rex could see his head and the tommy gun being held aloft as he shifted to get an aim over the white car's roof.
  "Lose 'em, Jerome!"
  Jerome glanced right, then left, grin transformed into a grimace of concentration.
  "I see it. Hold on."
  Jerome twisted the wheel and the car bucked left, the rear end swinging out and the left-side wheels lifting as the vehicle attempted a hairpin at high speed. The white car saw and pulled away, but too late, the rear of the Studebaker connecting with the driver's door just as it jerked away. There was a crunch and the Studebaker bounced roughly but, as the airborne wheels made contact with the road again, traction was regained and Jerome floored it, sending them down the narrower side street with perfect aim.
BOOK: Empire State
2.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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