Something More than Night by Ian Tregillis
|Book Name:||Something More than Night|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Audiobook / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Fantasy / Mystery / Science Fiction|
|Release Date:||December 3, 2013|
If you’re thirsty for pulp fiction flavored with angels and cosmic rays, then Something More than Night by Ian Tregillis was written for you.
Enter a not-too-distant future where a city glows a moldy hue with luminescent tattoos and graffiti. The newest rage in body modification leaves street denizens bleeding endlessly from paired wounds on their shoulders in the shape of severed wings. They are wrong. A true angel in this world has six wings, and they light the sky in a meteor shower as Gabriel dies.
The protagonist sees his fellow angel murdered and knows he has a job to do. He’s Bayliss, a weaker angel with a last-draft-pick name. Has to dress a dying human’s soul with a halo to plug the divine hole left by Gabriel’s death. Then Bayliss has to sleuth his way to find the murderer.
The dame he taps for a new set of angelic wings is named Molly. She’s newly not-dead, disoriented, and armed with reality-warping powers. The angels are charged with maintaining the universe. More aliens than spiritual guides, most angels have nothing to do with the human “monkeys.” And by most, I mean all but Bayliss.
He tips his fedora to Molly and leads her into the extra-dimensional pocket of space-time he calls home, a greasy-spoon diner. Molly ends up creating her own cavity of heaven—her own Magisterium—but hers is trashed by an overcurious pair of cherub thugs, their “diaphanous wings more transparent than a rich widow’s grief.”
If you’re not familiar with pulp fiction, the genre revolves on the detective’s tough-as-nails narration. Raymond Chandler could turn a phrase on a dime. Ian Tregillis follows in this tradition with such gems as, “My loose fillings echoed with the music of the spheres.” A cigarette is never written as that but a “pill.” Carrying a gun is instead being “rodded.” Ian Tregillis repeats those same terms, something that past gumshoe narrators would never do. I suspect he made this concession in consistency due to other complexities in the book. The first involves the infinite.
When Bayliss ask where to find the murder victim’s home, he’s told, “Gabriel’s Magisterium exists inside the teleological conundrum of unbeing. It is the tremor of awe begat by contemplation of perfect, empty eternity.”
Some address, eh?
Heaven in Something More than Night is more of a spinning cosmos than a place of fluffy clouds and trumpets. Electrons dance for the pleasure of the angels. Readers hoping for sexy studs on wings or understanding immortals will instead come away with a pocket full of quarks. The story has more of a science-fiction flavor than fantasy, despite it being listed as the later when I picked it up.
I asked Ian Tregillis on Twitter where the novel would be shelved. His answer was technical, but I’ll quote him in full:
The second point of complexity in the story is the perspective. It shifts from first-person to third to follow Molly. She’s the budding new angel, more relatable than Bayliss and less hardboiled in her choice of words. I was surprised that she ended up as the protagonist in half the scenes, and I admit a touch of regret. I had sat down to read a pulp fiction, after all.
Ian Tregillis bucks all the traditions. He even writes a short passage from two perspectives simultaneously with multiple columns of text on the same page. Readers looking for something new and challenging will love this book.
Speaking of new angels—I mean “angles”—Molly is gay and has little patience for Bayliss’s stubble-chinned charm. He says she “walked like the world was made of red carpet.” Molly is more interested in helping her grieving brother not self-destruct. She also tries to communicate with an ex girlfriend, but her uncontrolled halo causes a brain hemorrhage. Now Molly has to master her powers in time to save the girl she put in a coma. Bayliss is busy getting roughed up by the Thrones of Divinity, and it’s up to Molly to investigate a lead on Gabriel’s murder.
Prior to igniting into holy fire, Gabriel had his eye on a priest dusting off a relic called plenary indulgences. The church used to dispense these to the highest bidders. A plenary indulgence wipes away all sin, leaving a person squeaky-clean and ready for that jump into heaven. In this case, the leap comes sooner than later because all the recipients of these exonerations start dying, the priest leading the way to the afterlife.
With cosmic angels involved, the story takes some unexpected turns, and otherworldly ones. The last I’ll say about it is how I loved the Magisteriums. In Bayliss’s divine diner, he meets with one of his genderless angel buddies. “It ordered toast dipped in a fractal space with negative dimensionality. I guess it was on a diet.”
Molly’s Magisterium starts as her favored apartment but then gets trashed in superhuman style. The place leaks with emotions, strewn with a confusion of memories. “She tripped over the sensation of being sneezed upon by a sick horse.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to polish up my own Magisterium. It is located on the numinous that rises from soul’s despair. You know the place.