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Empire State (Empire State #1)

3.12  ·  Rating Details ·  2,119 Ratings  ·  391 Reviews
The stunning superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.

When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.

Adam Christopher’s stunning deb
Paperback, 445 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Angry Robot (first published January 1st 2011)
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Dan Schwent
Two battling superheroes open a rift into a parallel dimension. On the other side of the rift is The Empire State, an imperfect copy of New York. Empire State detective Rad Bradley's search for a missing woman brings him into conflict with forces from New York. But do they mean to save the Empire State or destroy it?

Why I liked this book:
Parallel universes are awesome, aren't they? One out of ever five Star Trek episodes uses them in some way. The Empire State is a copy of New York that reminds
Gabriel C.
Dec 08, 2012 Gabriel C. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, cory, 2012
I absolutely need to stop reading anything that Cory Doctorow recommends. He has absolutely no filter. Fool me once (I'm looking at you, Star Island), shame on Boing Boing. Fool me twice, there's more than enough shame to go around. Cory and I can share it with the author, the publisher, and anyone who knows either of them. There's enough shame here that we can give a big helping to anyone who has held a door for Adam Christopher or said to him "Excuse me, I think you dropped your hat." By page ...more
Veronica Belmont
Three stars means "I like" a book, even though it feels more like a "meh" when you see those three lonely stars up there on a review. However, in this case, it rings perfectly true: I liked Empire State.

I'm having some trouble being objective in this review, because I follow Adam Christopher on Twitter, he has been a friend to Sword and Laser, etc etc. But I had a hard time truly getting into this book as much as I wanted to.

Part of the problem is that the storyline is purposely convoluted. We'
Jan 27, 2012 Brandon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ebook, 2013, syfy
The Empire State is an alternate reality to what we know as 1930s New York City. Under oppressive rule, the inhabitants of the city are forced to ration all commodities to fund the war effort against an unknown force simply identified as “The Enemy”. When detective Rad Bradley is hired to investigate the disappearance of a young woman, he encounters visitors from New York. As Rad’s investigation continues, the truth behind the existence of The Empire State begins to unravel causing the detective ...more
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
This book is a hot mess. Often times, books which are a hot mess are fun to review, because I go into rant mode and just let loose on all the many ways I hated it. But, honestly, I didn't hate it. I didn't care enough about it to hate it. And, in a way, that's kinda even more sad than hating it.

It's just kind of there.

I think, overall, it just tried to be too many things. There's a smattering of Rocketeer like superheros. There's some prohibition/gangster kind of stuff that's mostly there for wi
Kate O'Hanlon
Take this with a pinch of salt, because though I'm immersed in geek culture enough to be passing familiar with superheroes, parallel universes, etc I don't have much contact with the primary sources, so maybe I just don't get it.

The plot moves along briskly but is complicated to the point of convolution and the writing style is often unclear. The main characters are cardboard cut outs and the supporting characters are tissue paper thin. The ideas were so interesting but they're mostly just waste
Tom Merritt
Jan 24, 2012 Tom Merritt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my. Where do I start? Do you like superheroes? How an noir ace detectives? Or perhaps steam punk? Alternate realities? Robots? If you're not absolutely salivating with geeky lust, then move along. There may be nothing to see here. But to those cleaning the drool off their tablets and laptops, stop now. Go to book store website. Buy Empire State. It's absolutely awesome. I want more Skyguard. I want more Detective Rad. I want more drinks at Jerry's. I want more robots. Well done Mr. Christophe ...more
During the last great superhero fight a blast of energy rips a hole in reality, the result Empire State; a twisted parallel prohibition-era New York City. But now the rift is starting to close and both parallel worlds have to fight for the right to exist. Adam Christopher’s Empire State tells the story of Rad Bradley a private detective investigating the disappearance for Sam Saturn which leads him to uncover something a whole lot bigger. This book is everything you expect in a pulp style superh ...more
From outside this looks like some cross-over of noir and superheroes with flashes of Watchmen and Wild Cards but when you drill down you find this confusing, tangled sci-fi heart of other dimensions, reflections of the real world and duplicity of the soul.

The book starts as a detective novel set in a 30's/40's blend of Prohibition and World War 2 era Manhattan, known as the Empire State. A woman is missing and it's up to PI Rad Bradley to find out what's going on. The more he digs the more he di
Ben Babcock
Empire State is a frenetic concoction of noir mystery, Prohibition-era gangster-style criminal conspiracy, and Golden Age superhero fiction. Reading it is like sitting in a bare room, concrete walls and a single steel table with an uncomfortable chair, as the clock above the door ticks steadily towards 3 AM. It’s minimalist and rough, sometimes surreal and always uncomfortable. Just when I thought I had it figured out, Adam Christopher changes gears and leaves me in the dust. I like that I was a ...more
Angry Robot is one of those publishers you just have to keep an eye on, because they come out with some unique, surprising fiction. Their books tend to defy genre conventions and often are impossible to classify. To mess with our heads even more, they then stick weird little filing instructions on them, such as “File Under: Fantasy [ Aztec Mystery | Locked Room | Human Sacrifice | The Dead Walk! ]” for Aliette de Bodard’s Servant of the Underworld, or “[The Mob & Magic | Ancient Secrets | Zo ...more

One of the most highly anticipated titles of early 2012, Adam Christopher's Empire State has been billed as superhero noir.  Angry Robot, recognizing the broad appeal of such a pastiche, has marketed the novel along with their WorldBuilder project.  WorldBuilder invites readers to create their own works based in the world of Empire State, which Angry Robot may publish (if they get anything good).  That's neither here nor there, but I thought it worth menti
Dec 03, 2012 Anna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi, terrible, noir
I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. 'Empire State' has been on my to read list for three years, as the combination of detective noir and superheroes seemed highly promising. I was expecting a standard thriller plot with some interesting world-building, rather than anything special in terms of writing or characterisation. Yet I was sad to find that none of the above were really achieved. At first I thought the problem was very similar to that of Aurorarama, which has a fantastic setting but fru ...more
P. Aaron Potter
May 14, 2012 P. Aaron Potter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Bait and Switch.

This book very nearly landed on my books-I-sort-of-regret-reading list (see my bookshelves), not necessarily because of any intrinsic flaw but because it indulged in the 'My Girl' sin: it promised to belong to one genre, then ended up somewhere else entirely.

The packaging, title, cover, back blurbs, press, and even the first chapter suggest heavily that this is going to be a noir comic-book inflected action story of super heroes among us, perhaps not on the order of Watchmen, but
Sam Reader

"You're late."

"No, actually, you're early." He rechecked his watch. "Actually, I am late, I think my watch is busted."

"Like your lip."

- Rad Bradley and Kane Fortuna


        I found this book in a very conventional way, for once. It was on the shelves of the local Barnes & Noble not far from my house. Now, I don't normally support big bookstores, but they've never steered me wrong much. In fact, a lot of the ones I visit inexplicably have smaller and mid-range press ge
Feb 18, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The art-deco style cover gives you a clue about this one. Here is a tale set initially in a 1920/30’s style New York, though not the New York City, but a place called Empire State. (Although the real New York City does appear, later.)

We have murder and gunshots in dark city streets, where it is always raining, detectives under streetlamps wrestling silently with their broody thoughts and dubious morals. We have Superheroes entwined with Gangsters. And with illicit booze, gang fights, car chases,
Ranting Dragon
Dec 26, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: michelle

Empire State is the genre-bending debut novel of New Zealand-born author Adam Christopher, one of Angry Robot’s exciting new acquisitions. Empire State successfully combines science fiction, Prohibition-era detective noir, comic book superheroes, and nearly endless plot twists to create a fast-paced and unique saga of surprises that is sure to keep countless readers up into the early hours of the morning.

Welcome to the Empire State
Empire State primarily te
Empire State
Written by Adam Christopher
Read by Phil Gigante

Empire State is a novel that sounds really great in concept but comes off a bit confusing in execution. This novel has it all - superheroes, detective noir, gangsters, prohibition, robots, alternate dimensions, you name it. If any or all of that sounds cool to you, this may be a book for you.

The story generally takes the form of a detective noir once you get into it except that the story's perspective does not only stick with the detect
Chris Bauer
There is a lot to like about this debut novel from Adam Christopher. The premise of Empire State is exceptionally fresh and unique. The mechanics behind the novel are also interesting. There were so many details and minor points alluded to in the book which I found utterly fascinating and thought-provoking.And the Worldbuilder system shows plenty of promise. But...

I could not sympathize with the protagonist(s) at all. Very dry, 2D and somewhat stereotypically "noir" in nature. The basic structur
May 17, 2013 Aaron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Confusing, rambling, and poorly edited. Angry Robot lost me as a customer when they put this book out.

Adam Christopher has a great imagination, and a good sense of where to focus when writing action sequences or descriptive passages. But this book is loaded with passages that needed a careful editor's eye, and Angry Robot apparently does not employ any careful editors. Typos, grammar errors, redundant phrases. This book read like a first draft that got quickly skimmed by an editor and put to pr
EMPIRE STATE is a blend of prohibition era shysters and superheroes ripped from the comic strip with a nod towards noir and the dime detective novels of the pulp era. There is also a liberal dose of sci-fi too with a multi dimensional New York/Empire State with access to and from via a fissure. This pocket and origin concept is a times confusing yet plausible within the limitations of Adam Christopher’s world he so craftily manufactures. Once I was able to get my head around it, the idea worked ...more
When this is inevitably turned into a movie it will be one of the very few cases where I recommend that people NOT read the book first. I'm giving this two stars because the premise is cool and I like stories about science fiction happening in New York.

This is an interesting premise, but the poor quality of the writing makes for a sluggish read. The characters never fully come into focus, the plot is needlessly convoluted, and the climactic final scenes are a sloppy action sequence peppered by "
Jun 11, 2013 Demercel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
It seems I am spoiled with reading mostly Hugo and Nebula award-winning books, so for me Empire State is a representative of the new, less-then-perfect generation of books. The book started slow, really slow. It is not an uncommon tool in authors' arsenal, but it still made the book not very well-balanced, because literally the first half is slow and introducing the characters and the setting, in the physical middle of the book the mystery is unveiled and the reader's suspicions are confirmed an ...more
Jen Williams
Dec 18, 2011 Jen Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prohibition-era New York, parallel universes, duelling superheroes... And the world of Empire State gets a lot stranger than that.

This is a great, punchy novel full of odd ideas and thrilling conflict, but what I liked best about it was the atmosphere, and the details that build it. Christopher constructs the sense of an off kilter world with layer upon layer of pulp noir strangeness, until the whole thing crackles with its own crazy energy. It's a fun house novel, where nothing is quite what i
Mar 12, 2012 Julian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was lured into buying this by the promise of a tale of an alternative reality where Prohibition was never repealed, and where superheroes went bad. And everything went really, really well until I started to read it. The first page established, at considerable length, that two men were in a car. On the second page we learned that the author is overly fond of adjectives, tending towards the inexperienced writer's belief that where none are necessary, three are better. We also learned that he is ...more
Dec 23, 2011 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fine mix of steampunk/noir/superhero/pulp in a story that I had a great time reading.

A PI takes a case to find a woman's missing lover in a thirties city in the midst of a war. Two superheroes, The SkyGuard and The Science Pirate, former friends now battling open the book.

The whole thing ties into two worlds threatened with destruction.

From the speakeasies to the blimps overhead to a fanatical preacher, robots, parallel universes, it is all great fun.
Mar 10, 2014 E.B. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Got this at a gas station on audiobook for a road trip...

Get ready for hours upon hours upon hours of scratching scalps. It's War Time, after all.
Travis Knight
For a debut novel, Empire State is quite a bang. Set in the shadow of the Empire State Building, it tells a hard-boiled detective story filled with damsels, dirty streets, gangsters and superheroes. Yeah, you read that right. Adam Christopher’s SF-noir novel is set (approximately) in the 1930’s, and that carries all of the distinctions of the prohibition-era Big Apple. Organized crime, speakeasies, religious fundamentalism and government corruption are all featured in Empire State. Booze is a bi ...more
Marc Aplin
Jan 23, 2012 Marc Aplin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marc by: Angry Robot
So, essentially, we as fantasy fans don’t mind a bit of repetition. In fact, I think the majority of us would admit that within our genre there isn’t a huge amount of variation. But, we don’t mind this – we read fantasy because we enjoy the young lad who against it all somehow manages to complete his quest. This could be taking a ring to Mordor, it could be defeating the evil Voldemort, maybe pulling a sword from a stone and rising up to become King? We love it. What we also love is the past – t ...more
David Schwan
I am giving this three stars but 2.5 is way closer. The plot is confusing, the world building seems incomplete, the writing at times gets too caught up in fight scenes. The characters on the other hand are OK, not great but good enough to be able to relate to them, but not all the characters some are rather stiff in nature. This book either attracts great reviews or terrible ones. I'm not sure what people see in this book.
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Around the Year i...: Empire State, by Adam Christopher 2 9 Mar 12, 2016 05:41PM  
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Book #67: Empire State by Adam Christopher 1 2 Jul 11, 2013 11:42AM  
The Sword and Laser: Reiterated my thoughts on Action in books 4 156 Jun 13, 2013 09:58AM  
The Sword and Laser: Need a new term (like "lemmed") 34 552 Apr 09, 2013 06:01AM  
Pulp Fiction: Empire State 12 65 Dec 03, 2012 05:49AM  
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Adam Christopher is a novelist and comic writer, and award-winning editor.

The author of MADE TO KILL, volume 1 in The LA Trilogy, Adam is co-writer of THE SHIELD for Dark Circle Comics and author of the official tie-in novels novels based on the hit CBS television show ELEMENTARY.

Born in New Zealand, Adam has lived in Great Britain since 2006.
More about Adam Christopher...

Other Books in the Series

Empire State (2 books)
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