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Literature / Put the Sepia On

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Put the Sepia On is a Hardboiled Detective novella by Nick Feldman set in a dystopian Crapsack World and narrated by Private Eye Monologue. Apart from the nameless detective, there's a pair of femme fatales, a monstrous Friendly Enemy, and a sniveling Dirty Coward. The plot is initially straightforward, as the detective is hired by a beautiful young woman called Coral to find her missing brother, but things pretty quickly spiral out of control and the detective quickly finds himself caught between the Corporation that runs the city and the monstrous, genetically-engineered biker thugs known as the Dogs.

The cover, pictured, was done by artist Lysandra Silber.

Read it here.

The series contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Lime, to the point of making it kind of hard to root against him.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Averted. though Lime is clearly near death, the detective just goes into denial and insists to himself that Lime'll be fine.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Lime has shades of this when he believes Rita is about to die.
    • inverted when the detective becomes a protagonist in mourning for both Lime and Rita before deciding to go back and try to save them.
  • Anti-Hero: The detective is mean, selfish, paranoid, and derisive, but he's also basically the only person in the entire setting willing to stick his neck out to help others or stand up to the Dogs or the Corporation.
  • Arc Words: The pain you've gotten used to will keep you from regret.
    • Which is actually a lyric from the below mentioned prequel record.
  • Artifact Title: Put The Sepia On was commissioned as a sequel to the little known "Throw The Color Off," a concept album and audiobook (by a different writer) by Seattle electronic act The Portrait Now. The title is a play on the previous installment's title, and reflects the darker tone and moral ambiguity.Unfortunately, the album "Sepia" was supposed to complement never materialized, so the connection between the two projects is tenuous, and most readers of "Sepia" are complete unaware of the existence of "Color".
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Lime's.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Coral, her brother, and a few other refugees escape, but tons and tons of citizens and refugees are killed, Lime is possibly mortally wounded, Rita may be dead, and the detective heads back into the war zone to look of them. Coral and the refugees also have no idea what to expect outside the city, and aren't a terribly competent bunch.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The detective keeps his in a hollowed out compartment in his bicep.
  • Crapsack World: Bigtime. The world (or at leas the city) is run by the heartless Corporation, all the citizenry is kept heavily medicated, and the only real opposition to the Corporation is a giant gang of mutated, man-eating bikers.
  • Darker and Edgier: Relative to its mostly unknown prequel "Throw the Color Off."
  • Defector from Decadence: The detective is this from the Corporation.
  • Dirty Coward: Coral's brother is cowardly to the point of being nearly useless.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lime freely admits he's a monster, but he still feels morally superior to the Corporation.
  • Evil vs. Evil: A major element of the story is the impending conflict between the Corporation and the Dogs. One group is a corrupt government that views its citizenry as product and the other is a gang of murderous cannibal thugs.
  • Femme Fatale: Definitely Rita, and arguably Coral depending on how much you agree with the detective's opinion of her at various points in the story.
  • Friendly Enemy: Lime feels this way towards the detective, who's surprised to realize it isn't entirely one-sided. Implied to be the case with Lime and Rita as well.
  • Hardboiled Detective: The main character and narrator, as well as his former partner, Rita.
  • Hidden Weapons: The detective keeps his "small, useful" gun in a secret compartment in his own bicep. Lime has a sword cane.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The detective can't decide whether Coral is this or Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The detective.
  • Masochism Tango: The detective's relationship with Rita is implied to be one of these.
  • Morality Pet: Coral to the detective, and sorta/kinda the detective to Rita she's still a horrible person, but she does selflessly risk, and possibly lose, her life to try and save him.
  • More Dakka: Lime's plan for dealing with The Corporation.
  • No Name Given: The detective.
  • Private Eye Monologue: The method of narration.
  • Sex–Face Turn: Rita attempts an inversion on the detective. It doesn't take.
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: According to the author's Twitter account, he's so desperate to move up the Sci-Fi Kindle charts, he's guaranteed a personalized apology haiku to anyone who buys the book and doesn't like it.
    • It almost worked, but "Sepia," topped out at #3, and has since fallen off the chart entirely. The writer has promised that if it ever does, somehow, reach #1 he'll do a sequel.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Snark Knight: The detective.
  • Spanner in the Works: Even with the detective's involvement, Lime's plan probably would have worked if Rita hadn't clued the Corporation in to it ahead of time.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The detective's not always sure he believes himself, and by the end he's quite possibly in denial over the fate of Lime and/or Rita.
  • The Vamp: The detective suspects Coral is one of these, and he knows for a fact that Rita is.
  • Wicked Cultured: Lime tries to come off as this, and mostly succeeds, but the implied cannibalism hurts his case.