Fiction Review

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Title: THE PIXEL EYE
  • Author: Paul Levinson
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Pages: 334
  • Price: $24.95


Near-future rodent murder mystery

By Chris Wyatt     August 25, 2003

It's easy for Paul Levinson's writing style to grow tedious, as manifested in his current volume THE PIXEL EYE. Levinson is constantly adding pointed comments about pointless details. This character taps his glass during this sentence, this other character glances this other way while talking... This level of detail would be fine if it contributed to characterization, story or even atmosphere... but it doesn't. Many of Levinson's brief asides feel as if they're intended as busy work, meant to fill up space.

If filling up space is what Levinson's worried about, he shouldn't be. His meaty plots, and interesting concepts don't need the dressing up. In fact, despite the fact that Levinson's style begs for heavy editing, the book is nonetheless compelling.

THE PIXEL EYE centers on Levinson's near-future forensic detective Phil D'Amato (last seen in THE CONSCIOUSNESS PLAGUE). D'Amato now works for an adjunct department focusing on homeland security, operating under the auspices of the mayor of New York.

D'Amato's office has been tipped off to a drop in squirrel population of the city's parks. It seems like a silly observation, but it could be the first sign of advanced biological terrorism.

But as D'Amato begins to look into the problem, he finds indications of something much deeper. Researchers have begun to understand rodent brains, and can use them as data storage. Meaning, treated squirrels can work as an army of furry little spy cams, going all over the city gathering data.

The believable biological explanations of the science in Levinson's not-so-far-away future, help make the novel chilling and eerie. D'Amato is a charming narrator, and an intriguing character, which also contributes to PIXEL's successes. Overall the novel can be recommended to anyone interested in a political thriller with a sci-fi twist.

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