What is the Cylinder? No one really knows. The huge structure rises mile upon mile above the surface of the Earth. It is so large the Sun is obscured most of the time and it is so old no one can remember it's original purpose. And is the Earth really down there below the clouds?
Axxter makes a very meager living by video recording the odd things he sees in his travels and selling the rights, but what he really wants is to be a successful graffex artist. That means he must sell his designs to the various tribes which wage war constantly on the surface of the Cylinder.
When one of the larger tribes offers Ny a contract to completely redesign their armor he has dreams of an easy life and paying his bills.
Of course Axxter's world view comes literally crashing down on him at the worst of all possible times.
Farewell Horizontal is not a coming of age novel. Axxter has obviously been around for a while and is willing to listen to advice.
I am going to be totally unfair and say Farewell Horizontal is Jeter's version of the book Dinner at Deviant's Palace by Tim Powers. Jeter and Powers, along with James P. Blaylock, were onetime proteges of Philip K. Dick, so it is possible they had some influence on each others work. Both books take place on an Earth rendered unrecognizable by unknown forces and both feature a hero who, despite their better judgment, must save the world as they know it.
But, as I said, the comparison is unfair. Farewell Horizontal is completely Jeter's book. He shows the same wit he displayed in his book Dr. Adder, though Horizontal is not quite as sinister.
Jeter wisely gives us the merest hints as to the Cylinder's origin and purpose.
We assume there are huge hydroponic farms and nuclear power plants buried within the Cylinder's core, but how does the food get to the millions of people who live on the Vertical?
Okay Jeter! You've whetted our appetites, now where is the book that tells us the tale of the Cylinder?
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