Nocturnal – Scott Sigler (2012)

During a recent interview on Skeptics Guide to the Universe (a great podcast for science and skepticism geeks) Scott Sigler discussed his new book Nocturnal.  He said that barring “some exceptions” everything in the books is scientifically plausible and extensively  researched.  I just don’t buy that.  I’ve tried reading another of Sigler’s books and didn’t enjoy the first chapter enough to even venture further.  However after hearing this interview and being intrigued by the premise, I bought this new one.  650 pages later; nope didn’t enjoy it and would not recommend it nor will I be reading any more of Siglers books.

Now first things first.  I have to give credit where credit is due.  Scott has written several books, as I understand it the first few self-published and now under the auspices of Borderlands press publishing.  So that’s great for him.  I can’t deny that he has (at least this one) written a 600 page novel which is no small feat. One can tell he enjoys writing, he get’s a kick out of his own characters which is felt via the page and again that’s wonderful.  I just particularly didn’t care much for the style and prose that Sigler chooses to write with/in.

During the interview he makes reference to a team of Phd’s and other fact checkers that he employs that will uncover the science of, say how a man can jump several stories or feet (I don’t remember exactly) and land unharmed.  This and other situations within the book harken to his term of “hard science horror”.  This exact thing happens within the novel and somewhere along the line we’re given the idea that maybe this character has some characteristics of other characters within the book that have hardened muscle tissue and hardened bone structure due to some unknown gene.  That’s where the science begins and ends for the reader.  There is a lot of referring to science and talking about genes and DNA etc. but how it all “really” works within the story to me falls very short of my expectations of a “hard-science” horror novel.

Nocturnal takes place in present day San Fransisco where strange sadistic murders are being committed and the two cops who want the truth are sidelined at every pass; making them wonder are the murders being covered up?  We are also brought along the journey of a young teenager who is bullied and tormented viscous at the hands of a teenaged gang and mother.  Our young victim and one of our cops are having strange dreams that eerily mimic the murders.  Oh and the violent murder involving dreams give both characters hard -ons.

The other half of this “hard-science horror” is a “love letter” to 80’s buddy cop movies.  Now I love Lethal Weapon; its one of my all time fav flicks that isn’t even a guilty pleasure because I can defend it’s qualities as a well made film.  This novel is not of that caliber.  One cop “Pookie” is simply juvenile; every word spoken (written) is either a lame catchphrase, unflinchingly homophobic, degrading to women or other wise sexual.  I understand the want to create banter between your buddy cops but no one talks like Sigler has his cops talk.  No one calls every single person he/she knows by a silly nickname EVERY time they refer to that person.  Reading this was lowering my IQ.  Fiction written and published in Playboy magazine is not this juvenile.

Sigler says (in the SGU interview) that there is a rational explanation to every “crazy” thing that happens.  Unless I missed a bunch of explanations I believe he has misled me.  There are “crazy” things aplenty with no explanation, supernatural or otherwise (zero science for some).  Furthermore, if there is, and I am mistaken that there are “hard-science” rationals for the exploits in the novel, they are not written out in such a way that the reader was explained said science.  I’m not saying that everything must be wrapped up in bows and explained in color by number fashion, I hate that if film and prose; but there were a lot missing numbers in my opinion.

While discussing the dichotomy between his cop characters, Sigler describes one cop, Clauser as a skeptic and atheist and his partner “Pookie” as a devout religious man.  This is written on one page, and for the most part dropped completely.

All in all, the novel is nothing like I was wont to believe from the interview and the novel itself was written in such a way that all I walked away with was that violence gave characters hard-ons, the cops smelt pee because the bad guys marked their kills, hard – science must mean something different in my world and the only witty banter between two cops can consist of anti-women, anti-homosexual jokes that are popular with fifteen year olds.

Sorry but I was not a fan of this book.  To be honest I’m disappointed in Scott Sigler who obviously had some really wonderful  ideas, wrote liked he loved writing, and for the science that was discussed read like it was fully researched, but lowered what could have/ should have been something of intellect to a lowest common denominator hokey young adult boys novel.

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