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One of Us

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,773 ratings  ·  88 reviews
It's not what you've done that counts it's what you remember....

If you could sell your conscience, could you get away with murder?

Hap Thompson works the gray area between truth and lies. He works for REMtemp, taking on other people's memories. It's illegal, but usually harmless. Maybe a petty criminal wants to pass a lie detector test. Or an unfaithful spouse wants to enjo
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 6th 1999 by Bantam (first published 1998)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  1,773 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Philip Dick, sci-fi noir
Shelves: sci-fi, mindbender
I've chewed on this review for a ridiculous amount of time. After two months, I'm left with a movie analogy:

I think Only Forward is the The Fifth Element, (spoiler for those who don't want images) (view spoiler)
merged with Blade Runner (old school, not the new one).
(view spoiler)

One of Us, like the movies and Smith's other book,Only Forward, is a genre mash-up. Noir mystery, future science fiction and somewhat mystical fiction with a grim ov
This book is loaded with more Awesome than many I have come across...How much Awesome you ask?...More units of Awesome than a Vulcan DJ or Robocop riding a Unicorn……
That is significant Awesome!!!

6.0 stars. This is the fourth book I have read by Michael Marshall Smith (MMS) and the lowest I have rated any of them is 5 stars (with this book and Only Forward being on my list of All Time Favorites. I guess you could call me a huge fan of his work.

One of Us is a "hardboiled" style science f
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is only the fourth MMS (including The Straw Men, by his alter ego, MM) that I've read.
The great thing about this guy is that he has such a rich imagination, it's exciting to start one of his novels because you have no idea where he is going to take you.

Having said that, I'd have to say that One of Us left me wanting just a little more. Indeed, he ultimately took me to a bizarre and original place, but it is the one novel of his that I've read that didn't have as much of the amusing and poig
Just on originality alone this book gets full four stars all fat and juicy -- I also had a rollicking good time reading it being that it's so goddamn funny in parts and running on high-octane adrenaline in others. It's such a mish-mash of genres it left my head spinning in places, but at its core, after you strip away all the fun bells and whistles, this is a "noire-ish" hard-boiled detective story. There's an anti-hero on the run, trying to solve a mystery before time runs out, there's a best f ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Early Jeterians and Lethemites, with occasional music
Recommended to Alan by: Uncle Hugo
It's a shame that Michael Marshall Smith never quite achieved breakout status as a science-fiction writer, because the novels he wrote before he switched names (to Michael Marshall) and genres (to more conventional thrillers)—SF like Spares, Only Forward and the novel currently at hand, One of Us—were really original, and really good. I'd compare One of Us with classic works of weirdness like Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music or K.W. Jeter's novel Noir (the latter also from 1998, by t ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was not very good but it is rather hard to review. There is no clear way to explain even what this book was about and the synopsis on the jacket is inaccurate. The sci-fi concepts and worldbuilding are terrible. The main character is an unlikable petty criminal. The story unfolds unremarkably until a certain point in the book wherein the plot derails into complete nonsense.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the author's earlier books - a sci-fi mystery with a dark sense of humour. Alarm clocks with lives of their own and people who hold other people's memories - for a price. Hap Thompson makes a good living out of taking on other people's memories, until something really bad happens. A young woman leaves him with the memory of a murder and won't take it back. Hap ends up on the run from the police and hit men (including his ex wife) while people in his life keep disappearing. It's a bizarre ...more
Jayanth - A Capricious Reader
The story went from being entertaining and interesting to being a dumpster fire as it approached the climax. I did not expect it to go downhill like it did.

I'll add more thoughts about the things I liked when I put out the fire.
May 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Few books have as pacey, engrossing and spectacular a start as this novel. The setting, premise and world are introduced with a deft hand, and a skilled walk on the tightrope between alienation and overexplanation. At heart of the novel is the first person narrator, Hap Thompson, who acts as storage bank for annoying dreams and memories. Except, then there is a memory that could cost him dearly if it's found in his possession...

One Of Us stays the course of a ripping sci-fi yarn for almost three
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody who reads humouristic sci - fi
Shelves: reviewed
I do not have a clue how this book ended up on my shelf, I can only remember it appeared there about a year ago and was subsequently neglected until I picked it up last week.

Needless to say, this was my first novel by the author and I was, especially for someone who doesn't read sci - fi all too often, thoroughly impressed. Smith's writing style is so fluid, full of matter - of - fact British humour and throughout the book you have the impression he is sitting opposite you, while he is telling y
Apr 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Michael Marshall Smith keeps exploring a certain "noir" feeling in a near future, almost close to current events and yet different from what we would call "normal" life.

In this case the premise is less wild than others, dealing with transferred memories and dreams. A not-very simpathetic criminal with good friends gets tangled up in a metaphysical chase, getting ahead by a mix of smartassness and bloodymindedness, supported by a healthy dose of luck.

What makes you read MMS is not the plot, or ev
May 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Man, Smith is nuts. I mean, I knew this and it's part of why I've always loved his books, but One of Us really rams the point home. I read it when it first came out in 1999, and just reread it as part of my rereading-MMS kick, and I still have no idea what it's about. God? Guns? Why alarm clocks really deserve to have the %^#@ kicked out of them? Who cares? I love MMS books for their atmosphere and skiffy insanity; I don't demand coherence. One of Us is pretty much an everything-jammed-in mess, ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Hap Thompson looks after other people's memories for agreed periods of times and gets paid well for it. One night he looks after a longer memory'... and finds a murder! This surprising mix of speculative fiction with Chandler-esque noir and some dark comedy, is an interesting concept; however the lightening up of the dark humour as the book progresses ruins the overall feel of what is actually pretty good sci-fi noir. One for the charity shop I'm afraid... ain't ever reading this again... still ...more
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Michael Marshall Smith's sci fi books are always full of the unexpected - which is very refreshing. ...more
Apr 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
The oddest compliment I can give this fine almost-sci-fi novel is that I would read it again, if only because I can't remember how it ends. I found the writing compelling and the storyline interesting enough to keep me reading on a long flight. Didn't like the other Marshall Smith novels I read, so this one felt like a fluke, or a gift. ...more
Trip Maus
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I really enjoy a first-person tale, esp when as deftly written as this. It is an interesting SF mystery. Very evocative. Loved the clock. Just go read it.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it
it was nicely written but I don't think it was my cup of tea. Michael has a vivid imagination and I applaud him for it but I think this book was just a bit too out there for my tastes. ...more
Sam Reader
May 13, 2014 rated it liked it
"Sorry. Ambient light projector."
- God

I should have known a book by Michael Marshall Smith wouldn't play straight with its own premise. Walking into this, I was ready to talk about a book that was just some kind of dark, twisted Noir story about a man who deals in memories and dreams for a living. I was ready to tell you that this was a slow, brutal burner about things going slowly wrong for Hap Thompson as he tried to dig himself further and further out of a slowly-tightening net. And I was a
Ian Casey
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fixing things doesn't solve everything: Your life will still have been broken. But at least you can use it again.

One never doubts that they're reading the same author between Michael Marshall Smith's first three novels in the 1990s. Even if the settings aren't explicitly intended to depict the same canonical universe, they may as well be with their darkly humorous late-stage-capitalist dystopian societies including such shared absurdities as appliances with personalities and agency.

Smith veers s
Paul Westwood
It's been a couple of weeks since I finished this book so I will have forgotten many of the points I wanted to make in this review, but I'll give it a go.
This is an exciting, well written, science fiction novel. It's written in the style of a pulp detective novel but is unashamedly SF in its content with concepts like walking, talking AI household appliances, futuristic gated communities, dream and memory transfer technology and a virtual reality world similar to the one in Ready Player One.
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Oh dear. I thought I would get back into some sci-fi…I recall loving MMS so went for a re-read and was terribly disappointed to find
- this novel is either wholly geared at a ‘young adult’ audience (which I previously was!),
- or it has dated (published 1996)
- or it really just isn’t that great.
For its time, it may have seemed futuristic, but now it is just all a bit silly. It incorporates speaking and moving ‘white goods’ into the plot (and indeed today we can purchase white goods that will ta
Tara C
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't recommend this book at all, unless you're looking for something long and meandering and with a plot that moves forward and then doubles back on itself and then doesn't move. If you've just read Catcher in the Rye, or are in the mood for some serious monologuing, read this book.

"Fixing things doesn't solve everything: your life will still have been broken. But at least you can use it again."

"Waiting for perfection is merely a way of turning your back on reality, placing a higher value on
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a Raymond Chandler detective thriller set in an SF/fantasy world. Twisty plot, but the pieces fit together at the end. There's a pervasive sense of unreality as events unfold that led me to expect some kind of major twist, but when it came I was disappointed. Still, a pretty good read with some fun Philip K Dick undertones. As a teenager I would have eaten up the metaphysical stuff, but today, it's just cheesy. ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dreams

Plot 2.5/5
Theme 3.5/5
Flavour 4.5/5
and also I liked it.

Some favorite quotes:
(view spoiler)
S. D. Howarth
I must admit, I feel this one lags behind Only Forward and Spares by a small amount and 4 Stars seems harsh.

Once again it is an entertaining and vivid twist on human nature with a splatter of the surreal thrown in. The characters and story are as well formed as the other books - if not better which makes for a great and stylish book.

You will never look around the kitchen the same again...
Mark Sheinbaum
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting blend of noir scifi, mysticism, around some violent crimes. The main character spends a great deal of the book describing his feelings and attitudes about the world, society, and anything else which comes up. Perhaps that's typical for a noir-ish story. The science is a bit questionable, but the twists and turns are kind of fun. ...more
David Mcangus
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it
The man can really write and he has an expansive imagination that he's able to bring character and colour to throughout.

But this one went off the deep end for me towards the end and it never really recovered. As soon as that moment happens you'll either go with or give it a hard no. I was of the latter.
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Surrealistic noir sci-fi story, with a philosophical twist and mind-bending technology. It's like watching Philip K Dick and Raymond Chandler working and laughing together.
After reading Only Forward, you see that he's grown and more fine-tuned his comical science fiction style. Amazingly done and also very readable. Something that's maybe overlooked these days.
Steven Werber
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is CRAZY....and a lot of
Natalie Allsup
Jul 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
A lot of things unexplained and randomly thrown in.
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Michael Marshall (Smith) is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, ONLY FORWARD, won the August Derleth and Philip K. Dick awards. SPARES and ONE OF US were optioned for film by DreamWorks and Warner Brothers, and the Straw Men trilogy - THE STRAW MEN, THE LONELY DEAD and BLOOD OF ANGELS - were international bestsellers. His most recent novels are THE INTRUDERS, BAD THINGS and K ...more

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“If people knew that I really am what I say I am,' he said, 'you know they'd never forgive me.'
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