Reviews of Metropolitan (1995)
Review by clong (2005-01-16)
This is an entertaining, fast-paced urban fantasy, set in a world covered by an unending city (even the oceans have been almost completely covered by urban pontoons). It's neither clear nor particularly relevant whether this world is some far future Earth or some other planet entirely. There are two rather odd things about the world: (1) the planet is enclosed within a sky-shield which appears to be impervious to all energy except gravity, and (2) the basic energy source is a plasm which runs through the structures of the city and can be harnessed by some individuals. Various chunks of the city are run by independent political units dominated by three groups: people who have access to and know how to use plasm, bureaucrats whose sole purpose in life is to wait for those above them in the seniority chain to die so they can move up the ladder, and the profoundly corrupt security forces whose main and usually successful investigative technique is to offer big rewards to anyone who rats out their friends, relatives, enemies, whomever.
The story follows our heroine Aiah, a low level discriminated-against bureaucrat, who comes across a previously unknown well of this energy and decides what to do with it. She is plucky, inventive, and doesn't try to run from responsibility for the outcomes of her actions.
The narrative format is straightforward, and the book moves along quickly, building suspense and throwing in a fair share of surprises.