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The Automatic Detective

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  2,562 ratings  ·  272 reviews
Even in Empire City, a town where weird science is the hope for tomorrow, it’s hard for a robot to make his way. It’s even harder for a robot named Mack Megaton, a hulking machine designed to bring mankind to its knees. But Mack’s not interested in world domination. He’s just a bot trying to get by, trying to demonstrate that he isn’t just an automated smashing machine, an ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Algernon
One of the first books I've discovered through Goodreads. I don't normally ask for recommendations (my TBR pile will last me a couple of years) , but I was in the mood for something fun, and I picked A Lee Martinez from the comedy shelf of one of my friends here. Lucky me!

R. Daneel Oliwav is one of my all time favorite characters in SF, and I read each Robot books by Asimov 3 or 4 times already. Mack Megaton is not that kind of robot though. He's the ultimate killing machine, designed by a mad s
...more
Carol.
Apr 29, 2012 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Prachett and Adams fans
Adams-Chandler Jambalaya (aka The Automatic Detective)

Gently brown one abducted family in heavy cast iron sci-fi universe seasoned with mutant-inducing radiation.
Remove family, leaving well-oiled universe.

In the same universe, sautée:
-A seven-hundred sixteen pound (robot) cab driver trying to keep a low profile until he clears probation.
-One (genius) blonde dame with a thing for robots.
-One overworked (mutant) detective who resembles a white rat
Cook until tender, or at least everybody understand
...more
Tfitoby
Being the first adventure of Mack Megaton, Private Eye; The Automatic Detective is a combination of The Maltese Falcon and Iron Man, a wicked blend of hardboiled noir, fantastic sci-fi and cynical humour.

Set in the fictional Empire City, Mack is a robot with 'the Freewill Glitch' who's in the process of applying for citizenship. Empire City is home to all kinds of mutations, in addition to Mack the former killing machine gone straight his cab-driving buddy Jung is a monkey and his friend Sanchez
...more
j
"Look, I wrote a detective novel!"

No one reads those anymore. People like more modern things nowadays. Robots and suchlike.

"Robots, eh?"

With just glance at her, I knew in a second that this dame was more trouble than she was worth, even if she did have the longest legs I had ever seen, right up to here.

"Just need to edit this a bit and..."

With just one scan, I knew in a microsecond that this biological was more trouble than she was worth, even if she did have the longest legs in my memory banks,
...more
Shivesh
Jun 03, 2008 Shivesh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of noir, detectives, robots, mutants, telepathics, and aliens
What a well-written tale this was! Kept me turning pages.

This is the story of Mack Megaton, a sentient robot who was designed for mindless killing and destruction but decides on a much more peaceful way of life after developing "Freewill". So the novel opens with his occupation as a cabdriver. Like any sentient being, he wants to know where he came from, who is is and what he is meant to do: in essence he is the soul in the machine, seeking a purpose, like any human does.

Along the way, Mack navi
...more
Michael
This book combines the feel of hard-boiled with the joys of a Sci-Fi novel. I’ve never seen this cross genre before but The Automatic Detective pulls it off so well. The best description I’ve found about this book was by a Goodreads user; ‘Raymond Chandler and William Gibson had one drunken night, nine months later, this book would be born’. I’m not sure if there will be anymore books in the series, but I secretly hope for more.
Mike
I really liked the ending. The rest of the book was good, but I really liked the end.
And as I think about the writing of A. Lee Martinez I find that I have almost always really liked the ending. The ends of his novels are the best parts in my opinion, he does a great job of world building and a great exploration of the story and tells a good story, but undoubtedly I'd have to say that the best parts of all his books are usually the end.
This has a great pulpy feel to it, the title detective is
...more
Josh
Empire City is a futuristic metropolis ruled by a mix mutant populace which includes biological, robotic, alien, and mutated inhabitants. Technology powers progression, enhances efficiencies, and dilutes the humanist aspects to inner city living. The foundation piece for THE AUTOMATIC DETECTIVE, Empire City has an aura that compliments the protagonist as he smashes his way through villainy towards his objective. The safe return of a kidnapped biological family – the only beings he can call frien ...more
Perryville Library
A. Lee Martinez has never taken his plot line too seriously. The result is a book that gets a kick out of being unabashedly cliché and ends up surprisingly original. A perfect example: The Automatic Detective, staring Mack Megaton, a one of a kind robot designed by an evil genius to lead a robotic uprising. But thanks to the development of free will within his programming, Mack has elected a more staid existence as a cab driver. His goal is keeping his head down and working towards citizenship i ...more
Danielle Parker
Book Review: ‘The Automatic Detective’ by A. Lee Martinez
Tor, 2008
ISBN-10: 0-7653-5794-1
317 pages

What makes comic books one of the more addictive creations in existence? They stand somewhere between a book and a movie, those colorful pages with their little bubbles of dialog. I suspect most of us go through a stage of absolute comic book addiction, and some of us never get out of it.
In fact, it’s probably a good guess that Japan consumes more comics than books. Of course they call them graphic
...more
Keith Phillips
The Automatic Detective is exactly the kind of book I’ve been looking for. A real fun mix of Scifi and Sam Spade. Martinez has just the right amount of gritty detective banter and Scifi gadgetry to keep me hanging on every word. What a great ride through the future world that Mack Megaton lives in. A world where Bots and Autos live alongside of human beings, and by law, even apply to become citizens.

Mack becomes involved in a mystery that he just won’t let go of when his neighbors are attacked b
...more
Guy Gonzalez
This was an unexpected disappointment; it's not a terrible read, but Martinez may have been a little too impressed with the presumed "cleverness" of his premise, ending up with a surprisingly derivative and bloodless mash-up of hard-boiled detective, gadget-driven sci-fi, and dystopian futures. While there are a couple of deeper philosophical themes that get touched on, it's very superficial, and the emphasis is on mildly dark humor that often misses the mark.

As a result, all of the characters a
...more
Amanda
For me, any book I read that's trying to go for a noir feel is a gamble. I am always hesitant about picking one up for this reason:

When dealing with noir there is such a fine line between gritty authenticity and macho cheesiness.

Unfortunately, this novel fell into the latter group imo. I did not hate it, but just did not enjoy it.
William Thomas
Damn. This was bad. Terrifically bad. Excruciating.

This is the only Martinez novel I've read to date, and I don't think I'll be reading anymore. The writing was so, so awful, so hackneyed that I could barely tolerate it. Reading turned into skimming halfway through. Instead of being told a story, a story is being told at you. Attacking you. Forcing itself on you. Where it should come off conversationally, it comes of like a Wikipedia page. You know how good writing shows instead of tells? Yeah,
...more
Cathy
The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it wasn't the first in a series. But I also love that about Martinez, each of his books are so different, he's such a creative writer, you never quite know what you're going to get except that it will be clever and entertaining. This book had fantastic style, he really captured the noir mystery detective storytelling style perfectly without being too heavy-handed about it. And Mack is a charming, naive guy in the body of the most dangerous ro ...more
Carly
**edited 12/04/13

Dresden Files, move over. The Automatic Detective has stolen my heart as the best scifi/fantasy-detective noir crossover out there. The characters are fun and funny and it is a well-written, enjoyable spoof that carries and twists all of the tropes of the noir genre.
Our first-person narrator and PI, Mack Megatron, is an AI-driven robot, which, created to help destroy civilization by a mad genius, unexpectedly developed the "Freewill Glitch" and refused to kill. So now he's tryi
...more
Mike
Aug 01, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Goodreads - somehow
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Automatic Detective”. This is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously either in concept or literary aspirations. Instead the author has crafted a book with humor, style, mystery and an unusual first person narrator. Together with the unusual “world” (city) that the characters inhabit the plot winds along from the unlikely to the improbable, amusing us along the way.

This is a narrative where the author trusts the audience to appreciate the flavors he has wo
...more
agata
Fun, fun, fun and the human predicament.

'The Automatic Detective' is fun. Lots of fun. In a noire style. But it's also SF. And the fun comes from seeing a robot being trapped in the intricate crazieness of being human.

Mac was build for world domination and destroying humanity. But with his freewill glitch he is as screwed as the next best human. He's sentimental. He suffers because he can't forget the mistakes he made. He starts having nightmares and suffers from insomnia - sometimes not even th
...more
Hotspur
Jun 23, 2008 Hotspur rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of cross genre fiction mashups, noir, and detective stories
Recommended to Hotspur by: Amazon Recommendations, actually
Shelves: science-fiction
Former evil wardroid Mack Megaton discovered he has "The Spark".. or the sense of self-awareness that turns a robot into an "automated citizen" with feelings, a sense of humor, curiosity and sense of self. This revelation causes him to turn on his creator, an evil genius.

It is now almost a year later, and Mack Megaton is trying to prove his worth as an "Automated Citizen" of Empire City-- a crazy hodgepodge burg of scientists, corporations, and technology run amok. Mack is having a hard go of i
...more
Amanda
Sep 23, 2008 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Humor lovers/Martinez fans
Shelves: fantasy, mystery, funny
This is the third book I’ve read by A. Lee Martinez, an extremely funny author who’s books are absurdly hysterical and yet well-written and imaginative. He’s been compared to Christopher Moore, and while I see the similarities, I think Martinez can definitely stand on his own as a humor novelist.

“The Automatic Detective” is set in a futuristic type world with the noir feel of the 1920s. Robots are the normal, co-existing with biologicals in a high tech society. Mack Megaton is a cab driver who
...more
Pamela
I wanted to like this book good enough for three or four stars. As it is, two stars is pushing it. It would have been a good concept for a short story, but the humor and creativity weren't strong enough to be stretched into a novel. By the end, I was just hoping it would hurry up and be over with.

There were a couple of things that bothered me enough to mention. The first, and most annoying, was that Martinez fell into the trap that so many authors writing a story set in the past fall into--he tr
...more
Lori
Feb 17, 2009 Lori rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Logan
Shelves: fiction
My first novel where a robot was the main character.
Plenty of drones, autos, and bots to go around, not to mention biologicals, mutants, and a gorilla in a purple suit.

Mack was built for destruction. But Mack has The Glitch and is trying like heck to be an Empire Citizen. When he finds his nieghbors missing/kidnapped, he goes against his better judgement and attempts to track them down.

Madness and Mayhem ensues.

Not quite up to par with Gil's but a riotous read nonetheless!
Lynn
Raymond Chandler meets Isaac Asimov with more than a hint of Terry
Pratchett! This is a noir mystery with a cynical detective named Mack
who just happens to be a robot and the requisite beautiful blonde who
also happens to be a genius. Fabulous, clever and totally engaging!
Give this one to your sf loving high schoolers who like something a
little different.
Chloe Hendrickson
Automatic Detective
By A. Lee Martinez
Book Review

When i first heard this book was about Robots with emotions, the first thing i thought of was 'A.I Artificial Intelligence,', which to that I said "Hell no." Robots with human emotions and want to be loved, is a big red flag for 'You'll never emotionally recover from this ever." But I'm happy to report that this book is not about that. In the Empire City, Our ideal metropolis of tomorrow is far from what I had in mind. Mutants, robots and humans
...more
Alan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Krysta

Empire City, also known as Technotopia, run by the Big Brains, is full of your average everyday people, robots, and mutants. They all seem to know where they belong in this technology based society except Mack Megaton.
Mack was supposed to be a war machine but developed what they call the free-will glitch, it gives robots a human like personality. This glitch caused make to rebel against his "maker" and is now trying to live like any other citizen of Technotopia. He gets a job driving a taxi to
...more
Dan
Jul 22, 2011 Dan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: signal
(I read this some time ago)

This book really irritated me and I'm not sure quite why. I think part of it was the robot was trying to do the trenchcoat-wearing detective thing, and everybody loved him and gave him presents, and the hot girl was flirting with him not because she wanted to use him but because she actually liked him, and it just felt wrong for the setting.
Max T
Loved this book - I'm a sucker for retro-futurism, and the world of Empire City works so well along those lines, and further compliments Martinez's noir pastiche.

My only regret is that Martinez doesn't appear to be one for sequels, and I'd LOVE to read about the further adventures of newfound detective Mack Megaton.
Jeremy Morgan
Though an interesting concept, it degrades quickly into campy, repetitive, and predictable about 50 pages in. Maybe I am just overly suspicious by nature, but I don't want to be able to figure out a detective story (especially one that has to be solved by a robot) so soon in the story itself.
Courtney Scott
Automatic Detective Book Review
The Automatic Detective is a really good book. It really got me thinking. When I first saw the title, I was like “Oh, this might be interesting to read…” Though I was somewhat uninterested. It was a school reading assignment and I had a choice of three books. As I started reading the book I was being more and more drawn in. When Mack’s neighbors were taken, I didn’t want to put the book down. It was wonderful and had good suspense. I was even trying to solve as I r
...more
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whats your favorite A. Lee Martinez book and why? 4 22 Jun 27, 2012 12:55PM  
  • Ex-KOP (Juno Mozambe Mystery #2)
  • The Disappeared (Retrieval Artist, #1)
  • The Sheriff of Yrnameer
  • The Plutonium Blonde
  • Jailbait Zombie (Felix Gomez, #4)
  • The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse, #1)
  • Agent to the Stars
  • Necropolis (Matt Richter #1)
  • The Human Disguise
  • Tea from an Empty Cup (Artificial Reality Division, #1)
  • Dragons Wild (Dragons, #1)
  • Reality 36
  • The Detective (Johannes Cabal, #2)
  • Emissaries from the Dead (Andrea Cort #1)
  • Shambling Towards Hiroshima
A. Lee Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas. At the age of eighteen, for no apparent reason, he started writing novels. Thirteen short years (and a little over a dozen manuscripts) later, his first novel, Gil's All Fright Diner, was published. His hobbies include juggling, games of all sorts, and astral projecting. Also, he likes to sing along with the radio when he's in the car by himself.
More about A. Lee Martinez...
Gil's All Fright Diner Monster Divine Misfortune In the Company of Ogres A Nameless Witch

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