Only Forward (1994)

Backcover Synopsis: Stark is the hero the future is waiting for – God help it. He’s smart, alarmingly cool, and has immaculate taste in shirts. He’s a troubleshooter in the City, a lawless sprawl of neighborhoods which covers the country from coast to coast. Each is totally geared to the desires of those who live in it, from can-do corporate types, through deranged criminals, to people who just don’t like loud noises. Stark accepts a job from Zenda Renn, the human face of the Action Centre – where people who have to be doing something all the time hang out. Someone’s missing. Zenda needs him found, and soon.

The debut of Smith is almost a flawless novel. It’s a strange mix of elements from horror, science fiction and detective fiction. The story has some very neat twists that are nearly impossible to foresee. Smith’s future is highly inventive, even if it often sounds implausible, Smith makes it somehow work while it lasts. It’s as if you read a strange dream and you know, when you wake up it won’t make any sense, while you’re dreaming it does.