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 f...moreFormer 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 it, being on probation by the High Council, a period of observation before he can become a citizen. In the meanwhile, Mack must demonstrate he is a law-abiding peaceful citizen and self-sustaining in his crappy job as a cab driver.
Things get complicated for Mack when he is drawn into a mystery that might prove to play a fundamental role in shaping Mack's future. Can Mack hold override his former wardroid programming to keep it together while he solves the mystery?
Told from Mack's point of view, Automated Detective is a fun read, albeit not too jaw-droppingly original. The noir dialect is a tad hackneyed in places and the story a tad predictable. However the fresh perspective of seeing life from the robot's vantage point adds much to a standard noir drama.
I recommend this book. It does not break new ground, but it is pleasant, engrossing and quite funny in places.
After having finished it.. I will stick with my four stars. Automatic Detective was a pleasant junk food read, the ending was no great twist, but I liked the noir stylings. Clearly, this book was a set up for a sequel, which wouldn't be a bad thing-- the setting is quite good and the characters fairly interesting. Martinez may want to venture out of Mack's mechanical head from time to time and see what can be seen in some of the other citizens of Empire City. I liked the supporting cast quite a bit, and would like to see more of them.
I love JM's space archeology style of science fiction. Long ago I realized that even a bad Jack Mcdevitt book blows a lot of current SF out of the wat...moreI love JM's space archeology style of science fiction. Long ago I realized that even a bad Jack Mcdevitt book blows a lot of current SF out of the water, so I'm enthusiastic! Having finished Cauldron, I'll say that it's better than quite a few of them, to the point where I really liked it. McDevitt's plots usually raise a lot of questions, and this one is very different in that it answers one of the bigger ones, and the answer may come as a letdown to some readers.
This is a hard SF work set in the same universe as Odyssey, Chindi, Omega, and Engines of God. I think the last three stories were really McDevitt (who worked at NASA for years) bemoaning the current state of space exploration and funding for science in general using fictional proxies.
I am a fan of McDevitt's sparse, matter of fact prose style, which reflects his background in science and the day to day politics at NASA. I also like his character development, which doesn't spend too many pages enmeshing the reader in needless drama. CAULDRON is a welcome addition to his Priscilla Hutchins cycle-- likely the last novel in the series.
A fun read, in that old-fashioned, chest-thumping, red meat eating and martini drinking fashion. I love a diversion into Space Opera now and again, an...moreA fun read, in that old-fashioned, chest-thumping, red meat eating and martini drinking fashion. I love a diversion into Space Opera now and again, and Space Viking is a fine example of the genre. The only H.B. Piper I can admit to reading so far has been LORD KALVAN OF OTHERWHEN (a great alt-history type novel, the first of the PARATIME series), plus some well-executed short stories. Space Viking wasn't extremely deep; Piper prefers the bludgeon to the rapier on some of the points he makes, but I didn't care-- there's Space Battles, civilization building, Good Guys and Bad Guys and planets in peril. You can't beat it!(less)