Book: The Jazz

Cover image

The Jazz

Author: Melissa Scott
Publisher: Tor Books

Melissa Scott, winner of the John W. Campbell Award, twice winner of the Lambda Award for best novel, and author of the cyberpunk classic, Trouble and Her Friends, returns with a hip novel of the media-dominated future, when the internet is filled with Jazz: intentional misinformation and bewildering disinformation that are both an artform and a business.

Tin Lizzy, a respected Jazz artist with a checkered past, is a theatrical Web site designer who does backgrounds for Jazz productions. When a nifty new script shows up on the web, Lizzy is surprised to learn it came from a teenage boy named Keyz. It turns out Keyz used his parents’ access codes to borrow a Hollywood studio’s editing program- the true, hidden source of the studio’s success. Now the studio head wants to lock him in jail and throw away the key.

So Lizzy rescues him and takes him on the road, across the altered landscape of twenty-first century USA, trying to stay one step ahead of the police . . . . and the vengeance of a megalomaniac CEO.

The Jazz is a road chase novel of the future, filled with shady characters, close calls, and colorful neat ideas.


Misinformation, PR, disinformation, rumors, spinning, lies—in the near future, the art of untruth has evolved into the jazz: virtual-reality Internet theatre, an entertainment for the cognoscenti and a source of pain and scandal for those who believe what they see, read, or experience. Tin Lizzy has escaped her troubled criminal adolescence to become one of the premiere design programmers of the jazz. But when she agrees to design the back-tech for a teenage boy’s brilliant jazz scenario, she discovers too late that Keyz created his jazz with a sophisticated program stolen from a Hollywood studio. Now Lizzy is a criminal again, a desperate fugitive on the run with Keyz through the dangerous underground of the 21st century, fleeing cops, bounty hunters, studio detectives, and a powerful, ruthless CEO who has a secret to preserve, and boundless resources and vindictiveness.

Quietly, outside the hot, critical spotlight turned upon the original cyberpunks and second-generation cyberwunderkind Neil Stephenson, Melissa Scott has become one of the strongest, most productive, and least street-glamour-blinded cyberpunks writing at the turn of the millennium. This is not entirely a surprise; in 1986, she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She is also a two-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for best science fiction novel. If you haven’t read Melissa Scott, The Jazz is a fine place to start. —Cynthia Ward

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