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Brain Thief

3.0 of 5 stars 3.00  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Bernal Haydon-Rumi, executive assistant to a funder of eccentric projects, drops by his boss’s house on the way home from a business trip. By the next morning, he’s been knocked out, his wealthy socialite boss Muriel has stolen a car and vanished, and the AI designed for planetary exploration that she’s been funding turns out to be odder than it should be. In figuring out ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Tor Books
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This was a very uneven book, at least in my experience. The first 100 pages or so are rather confusing, I kept reading simply to see where it was going. Then it suddenly picked up for a while, but eventually went back again to some really choppy narration. Some people will probably enjoy the style, but it was honestly not my cup of tea.
This was an odd book - essentially a mystery/chase story with some science fictional/horror elements thrown in to make it more interesting. The main character is summoned by his employer, an entrepreneur who has been investing in a research project for a robotic vehicle for exploring other worlds. He gets to her house and finds her gone, and chases her next door, and the madcap story takes off from there. His characters were quirky and fun, although I found the story line hard to follow from tim ...more
I’m not exactly sure why Alexander Jablokov decided “Brain Thief” (SciFi, $24.99, 382 pages) needed to be categorized as science fiction, because it’s basically an action thriller that didn’t need any of the marginally advanced science to make the intricate plot keep rolling.

And plot is what “Brain Thief” is all about. It’s one of those books in which the protagonist, just an ordinary fellow, is tossed into a confusing situation that he really doesn’t belong in. In this case, Bernal Haydon-Rumi
Jan 12, 2010 Readersentertainment rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of science fiction, thriller novels
Alexander Jablokov returns to science fiction with Brain Thief, his first novel in the genre after several years. This imaginative mystery comes complete with a cast of eccentrics who in some form or fashion antagonize Bernal Haydon-Rumi, the man at the center of this strange journey and struggle for answers. When Bernal returns to his wealthy employer's home after a business excursion, simplicity unravels, and he is left with a puzzle to solve that involves his boss, a woman who spends idle tim ...more
In recent years, a number of literary authors have dipped their toes in the waters of science fiction. However, their lack of confidence, or inexperience, in deploying sf tropes often gives such attempts an air of diffidence, which in turn gives the novels an old-fashioned feel. This is because sf is a mode of storytelling, it is not just the garden in which its stories play. The reverse, science fiction authors writing mainstream fiction, is less common. But when science fiction authors write n ...more
Melissa Hayden
The mystery starts right away when Bernal is just coming home from a business trip stopping by to see his boss. He gets the feeling something's not right. You start to see, as well, something is askew. Chasing his boss as she runs away and steals a car to get away. What is going on? Muriel, Bernals boss, leaves hints and messages to help steer him on the right path to help him with the mystery of Hesketh. Hesketh is an artificial intelligence that is on a sample run through the hillsides before ...more
The short version: Brain Thief absolutely floored me. If you think you'd like a post-modern noir that's dark and funny, packed with quirky characters and hair-raising thrills, and has some near-future science fiction flavor, it's run-do-not-walk time. Bernal Hayden-Rumi works for a wealthy eccentric who funds oddball research projects, something is going identifiably wonky with one as the novel opens, and I encourage you to let the novel spring all its other surprises on you without my interfere ...more
A Sci-fi murder mystery with elements of hard science and soft bodies. A serial killer is on the loose, but are they acting on human emotion or cold mechanical logic? Bernal Hayden-Rumi (half-Japanese geek love) is out to solve the issue, meeting a cast of mainly ladies who mostly aide him on his way.

The book was alright, it had some humorous moments and some interesting thoughts, but wasn't something I'd rave about. I might mention this book to non-serious sci-fi readers or mystery readers, but
Brain Thief by Alexander Jablokov is about a man named Bernal, who has a strong relationship with his employer Muriel Inglis. They both work (although more Muriel than Bernal) in the business of AI ten years in the future. When Bernal notices that Muriel had been acting strange he tries desperately to follow her strangely cryptic clues and in doing so is forced to undergo an even stranger mission of figuring out the secrets to the mysterious AI “Hesketh” and a network of serial killers taking he ...more
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Alexander Jablokov Brain Thief

Bernal Hayden Rumi works for an eccentric millionaire. He troubleshoots projects like an attempt to reseed the great plains of the United States with mammoths. One day his employer disappears and he ends up on a chase through wild and strange circumstances. The author is quite original in his approach and his subjects.

This novel is the landscape of fringe science, stolen crogenically frozen heads, black market scientific equipment, planetary exploration robots, and
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

At first glance, the "trippy" "cyberpunk" novel Brain Thief by Alexander Jablokov looks like something that'd be right up my alley, to the point that it's one of the few titles I've ever bothered to put on reserve at my local library, instead of my usual habit of choosing books based on whatever random ti
Jun 12, 2010 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is a decent book, but it was vaguely unsatisfying while reading it. Nothing that made me want to toss the book aside, but there was something about the evolution of the plot and characters that just felt, if not wrong, then incomplete.

It's an action-mystery plot thrown under the science fiction umbrella because of the premise. No that the basis of the science is that far out, after all we do have "corpsicles" today. (Who can forget the scandalous treatment of Ted William's remains.)

I was am
I am not sure why, but I found this tale of a man following up his beloved employer's disappearance, which leads to brain transference technology and evil AIs, hard to get through. For me, it was hard to follow, and the characters weren't sympathetic enough that I cared about them. I felt that the tone of bizarre Douglas Adams type imagery didn't quite come off.
I couldn't get into this book. It's an interesting concept. Very cool future where perhaps human consciousness can remain after the body dies due to tech advances. Or is our protagonist merely overly imaginative? I think other sci-fi reader friends might enjoy this work-- extra props to Alexander Jablokov, who is a local from Cambridge.
Sarah Sammis
I learned about Brain Thief by Alexander Jablokov in an issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I tend to add books mentioned in author introductions to my wishlist.

The book begins with the disappearance of a funder of odd ball scientific projects. This happens after she knocks out her executive assistant and steals a car. So Bernal decides he should find her himself as no one else understands her as well as he does.

As Bernal does all the narration, the book's scope is limited to what he is able t
Ryan Mishap
Another Kaspar the Friendly Co-worker find, I would have put this off longer and maybe it would sit on the shelf counting dust motes but I was craving a mystery book. This being the closest relation and having just re-read yet another Connelly, I picked it up while I am couch-bound due to a sprained ankle.

Like most of the genre works being produced these days, it is far too long. Still, this is an enjoyable, slightly science fiction take on the noir-style mystery. He tries too hard to create qui
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Brain Thief is just a little too random for my taste. It's a near-future humorous thriller with science fiction elements, where every other character waxes on about philosophy and/or conspiracy. It simply doesn't work very well. The humor never exceeds light chuckles and often falls flat. The characters are, for the most part, really not that interesting, including the main character who has the least color of anyone in the story. The beginning of the book is overly confusing and jumps around as ...more
I am wavering between two and three stars. The story was a fast paced sci-fi mystery with an moderatly enjoyable plot. However I found Jablokov's writing style to be overworked. The novel seemed like it was 75% dialogue, 15% narrative, and 10% stage directions.

The novel was packed with eccentric characters delivering quirky dialogue. The chapters were mostly compiled of short scenes where Bernal meets up with a chatty secondary character, they have a conversation, maybe someone gets hit or chas
I've liked previous Jablokov, but this was a bit of a slog, especially in the middle. I put it down for a while, then jumped forward, and had trouble remembering the quirky characters he was meeting. Most of the sfnal stuff is happening off screen; the mystery and unusual characterizations hold center stage. There's an AI running around, and a serial killer, and a poor schlub who is trying to find out what the heck is going on. We'll see how much I remember over the next year. It was cool to hav ...more
I enjoyed this book, but man! It was a weird one. I think that's what kept me reading, actually. I was never sure what the next page would have in store for me. AI with multiple personalities, a philosophizing waiter at a diner that draws customers to return despite the food, a drug dealer called the Easter Bunny chumming the water with free drugs, and the troubles of building the perfect beheading device. All of that is in there, but that doesn't even scratch the surface. It's weird, all right, ...more
Stephen Graham
It's been some time since I've read any Jablokov, but this seems rather different than my memory of his novels. Set in the indeterminate near future, like some of Jablokov's previous novels, there is an attempt to escape from Earth. The difference is that it is not our viewpoint characters who are struggling but what might be the villain. Most of the novel is set as a mystery novel yet it doesn't quite fit that. Ultimately it doesn't gel.
Lighter and quirkier than some of his previous novels, Alexander Jablokov, with his Brain Thief, creates a murder mystery that is equal parts Charles Stross, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and Caleb Carr. Jablokov's A Deeper Sea still remains my favorite of his novels, however Brian Thief does have that certain cynicism that seems to resonate with me.

Try it - you'll like it.
Most mind-blowing is how much legit science is in this book. AI robots that work off of human brains, what?!?! Great unique story line and interesting characters and setting. Very little explanation of the setting is given, and things are just off enough from reality to throw the reader, which is also fun.
Henry Mahncke
A fun read, and what's not too like about a trunk mounted combination head chopper/freezer. But overall the plot seemed forced on the basis of hiding information the the reader, and the central mystery was tantalizing but not fully realized even by the end.
Took me awhile to get into it, but I did finally enjoy this quirky mystery. Some interesting characters, a twist at the end, not really science fiction, tho' it does involve a possibly homicidal AI. All in all, a pretty good read.
I consider myself a patient reader in that I will give a book some time to develop before I give up on it. I read 120 pages of this book, didn't know what was going on, didn't care about any of the characters, and I quit.
Quirky but interesting book. Reminded me as much of a non-series John Barnes novel (self-effacing anti-hero; quirky borderline conspiracy theory background) as any of Jablokov's earlier books. Good stuff.
David Agranoff
Don't take my opinion on this one very far, as I only made it about 50 pages in. Nothing hooked me. The narrative didn't have an storytelling energy and nothing in the plot caught my interest.
I rarely read science fiction anymore, but this one had an interesting mystery that kept me turning the pages. I didn't understand all the AI technical jargon, but I enjoyed the quirky characters.
This near-future mystery has a twisting plot that I had trouble caring enough to follow. I didn't really get into it until about 3/4 of the way through the book.
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Alexander Jablokov writes science fiction for readers who won't give up literate writing or vivid characters to get the thrills they demand. He is a natural transition for non-SF readers interested in taking a stroll with a dangerous AI or a neurosurgeon/jazz musician turned detective, while still giving hardcore SF fans speculative flash, incomprehensible aliens, and kitchen appliances with insec ...more
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“Death is real, irreversible, and awful. Do you want some advice? Don't wait until you're dead to try to communicate. Do it now. You still have a chance. Not a great one, but a better one than you will have. If you think it's hard to get your point across now, and that no one really understands what you're about, just try it when you're dead.” 5 likes
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