Nova Swing - M. John Harrison Nova Swing is not quite as "metaphysical" as its predecessor [b:Light|119322|The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)|Philip Pullman||1536771] but it still carries Harrison's typical mood: Reality is a construct, constantly changing as its participants think and act. As some reviews here have complained there's no story/plot to speak of. It's a "day in the life" of a collection of people living along a particularly active warp in mundane reality - the Saudade Event Site. You don't have to have read Light to take an interest in the various characters but it does help in understanding what the Kefahuchi Tract is and some of the background mentioned.

The main characters are Vic Serotonin, Liv Hula, Antoyne Messner and Irene, Edith Bonaventura and Lens Aschemann.

Though billed on the dust jacket as the chief character, Vic is only one among several, and (IMO) the least interesting. He's a largely amoral opportunist whose ignorance drives most of what action there is in the novel. He works as a "travel agent," someone willing to take "tourists" into the warp, a highly illegal activity. Liv is a former starship pilot and now a bartender. Antoyne is another washed-up pilot who links up with Irene, a so-called "Mona" - a gene-tailored prostitute ("Uncle Zip" is the McDonalds of gene tailoring in Harrison's universe). Edith is the daughter of Emil Bonaventura, a once famous travel agent. The most interesting character for me was Lens Aschemann, a detective on Vic's trail, and a the easiest for me to identify with on a mental level.

I think the primary "message," if any, of this book is that people have an active role in creating the reality around them. It's nothing as simplistic as a pop-culture fad like visualization ("I see myself RICH!") but everyone's lives change for the better when they take action to change them. Harrison just manages to avoid a "too happy" ending where all live happily ever after. The Kefahuchi Tract and the warp that's fallen to this unnamed planet is a physical symbol of Harrison's belief in the nature of reality.

I can't really recommend this to anyone since it's a book (and an author) where you either like it or you think it's a bunch of pseudo-intellectual tripe - there's little grey area.