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The Automatic Detective

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  4,206 ratings  ·  416 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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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,206 ratings  ·  416 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
”Self-preservation was a basic directive, but there wasn’t a robot functioning that prioritized it at the top of the list. Like biologicals all robots were seeking a purpose. Autos and drones were lucky enough to have that built into them. A bot had to find his own way and I’d figured out that functioning for function’s sake was pointless. The real question was finding a directive worth getting scrapped for.”

Mack Megaton was at the bottom of the sludge heap of Empire City, a city where weird sci
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Damn, some days I wished I'd been made a toaster.

Mack Megaton is a robot. He's built for destruction, but spends his days driving a cab. When his neighbor and her family go missing, Mack steps out from behind the wheel, and turns amateur P.I. to find them.

The first half of the book moves much like a standard detective novel. There's delightfully crackly dialogue, and some great descriptions of a city in decline:

Crime was a dirty public secret in Empire. No one talked about it, and if you listene
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel is blending noir mystery with quasi science fiction theme and a surprisingly rather humorous story. Noir and humor in one story, difficult mix.

As I read this novel alongside The Long Way Down, I compare the noir aspects of both novel first. For review of The Long Way Down please check: here

Noir mystery-theme checklist:
- First person POV/investigator: passed. Title had suggested it. And the POV's voice (sometimes logical when he was talking with organic life forms, but other times rel
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
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
Tom Mathews
This book makes my brain hurt. It’s a story published in 2008, set in the future but written in a 1940s noir style from the point of view of someone in the 1970s. If that doesn’t make your head spin, you’re not a biological as they say in this world.

Our hero is Mack Megaton, a 716 lb. robot, built by an evil criminal mastermind to be an enforcer but now working as a cabbie in Empire, (aka Mutantburg. Robotville. The Big Gray Haze, or The City That Never Functions). When one of his human friends
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it


'Name's Mack Megaton. I'm a bot. Or automated citizen, as the Learned Council liked to phrase it.'
This is a ridiculously entertaining story. You follow a huge bot Mack Megaton on his journey to find his purpose. He is one of a kind bot, though. Built as an almost invincible war machine, he is on probation for a full citizenship in Empire City ('...if your ideal tomorrow was a sprawling, impersonal city with rampant pollution, unchecked mutation, and dangerous and unreliable weird science,
Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it
"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,
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic detective novel (think Chandler & Hammet) told from the point of view of Mack Megaton, a sentient robot in a futuristic cesspool of a city (think Stan Lee on a bender). After that things get even stranger, but that's OK. It made me laugh & think in equal proportions & the action never stopped. Mack's comments on biologicals, their propensity for bulk fueling, disposal of the used product, & inefficient mating drives were great. Electricity & cold logic work ...more
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.
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
Weirdly entertaining. Another great story from Martinez. This one was not as fast paced like the rest of his stories, in my opinion. But, still a great piece of work.
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Raymond Chandler's followers and "I, Robot" Asimov enthusiasts
Recommended to Still by: the usual Goodreads friends -as usual

Great entertainment.

Futuristic hard-boiled detective novel with a terrific cast of characters that becomes -near the end- a wonderful giant monster movie comic as drawn by Jack Kirby.

Dialogue was superb ...caustic... tough-guy robot with a non-programmed sense of humor cracking wise when the occasion dictates.

I had a rockin' good time with this.

Highest Recommendation Possible.
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-humour
Mack Megaton is a seven foot tall, 300lb robot living in Empire City, working as a cab driver, when his neighbours are kidnapped. Mack vows to rescue them.
Empire City is polluted with toxic waste, peopled by mutants, robots, normals and, oh yeah, aliens. Of course it is.

“Napier followed. “Come back any-time, Mack. I'll leave your name at the front desk, let them know to let you up any-time you please. Any-time.”
I didn't reply. But staying away from Proton Towers was now on my short list of di
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The following excerpt captures the spirit (and speak ;) of this novel well:

It's always a little strange for me sitting with another robot that hasn't qualified for citizen status. Here I was with all the rights (well, most of them anyway) of a biological citizen, while Knuckles was basically considered a walking refrigerator. I could bust him to pieces, and it'd only be considered an act of vandalism. We were both made up of the same basic components. Except I'd passed my minimal sentience exami
Mack Megaton is a robot designed to bring mankind to its knees. Instead of following his intended directive, his ‘freewill glitch’ allows him to join the ranks and try to gain citizenship. His freewill gives him the personality of a typical street detective when he realizes his neighbors are missing and it is up to him to find them. Soon, Mack is deep in Empire City’s seedy, radioactive underbelly involved in something much bigger than just missing persons. Mostly science fiction, partly noir, a ...more
Nicholas Karpuk
"There was something appealing about breaking bones and asking questions, about mixing it up with lowlifes and intellectual dames."

Indeed, Mack Megaton, indeed. Even a robot can understand why people are into crime fiction. There's a reason detective stories made up such a healthy portion of old pulp novels. While the fairly undemanding structure attracted plenty of hacks, it also brought authors who preferred to spend more of them time on snappy dialogue, good pacing, and colorful characters.

Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
When a bruiser machine robot's, neighbors go missing, Mack Megaton is on the case. Mack's neighbors are friends with some very special gifts that will be useful if misused by the family nappers. Mack is forced to work on the margins of the law to rescue his friends, while trying to stay on the path to citizenship that requires strict adherence to the law plus a resumé of good deeds. Can Mack save his friends and get his citizenship too? You'll be cheering for Mack all the way.
Bryan Brown
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-noir
This book was extremely pleasant and I enjoyed reading it. I have waited several days to do this review and I still don't have anything substantive to stay about it. The book is a fast, lighthearted read. It revels in it's own silliness and does an excellent job keeping the tongue firmly in cheek.

The story is a twist on the old school noir hardboiled detective stories. But not the books, more like the lighthearted versions that were presented in radio dramas. Think Howard Duff as Sam Spade (goo
Scott Bell
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do enjoy a writer as talented as Mr. Martinez. I put him on par with Christopher Moore for humorous horror-slash-scifi-slash-urban fantasy-slash-whatever the hell this genre is called. Not really a laugh out loud moment in this one, but a constant smile throughout.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve read by this author. This story was wonderfully imaginative and original. Wish it were a series. Would love to follow the great characters in further adventures.
Do you like detective stories? Do you like 1940s noir? Do you like sentient robots? Do you like aliens? Do you like futuristic settings? Do you like subtle humour? Do you like action with futuristic weapons? Do you like mutated humans with random powers?

I could honestly list off several more things this novel has that would seem to be completely disparate from one another, but this novel has them all. And, surprisingly, it works. The reason it does is because Martinez doesn’t spend too much tim
**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
Keith Phillips
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Douglas Debner
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder what the author's take on his own novel is here. To me it didn't seem like Mr. Martinez was even trying to be funny, instead he told a story where his own sense of humor effortlessly came through. And what a story.

What would you do if you were a relentless killing machine designed by a mad scientist to lead his army and you suddenly became self aware? Apparently you start abandoning your would be master for a job as a taxi driver in a city full of mutants, robots and damsels in distress
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, scific
I like this guy, he writes predictably entertaining books. This one has a superpowered robot, a psychic 6 year old and a supergenius waif. good entertainment.
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whats your favorite A. Lee Martinez book and why? 4 26 Jun 27, 2012 12:55PM  
  • KOP (Juno Mozambe Mystery #1)
  • The Disappeared (Retrieval Artist, #1)
  • X-Rated Bloodsuckers (Felix Gomez, #2)
  • The Sheriff of Yrnameer
  • Space Captain Smith (Chronicles of Isambard Smith, #1)
  • Dead Streets (Matt Richter #2)
  • The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse, #1)
  • The Plutonium Blonde (Nuclear Bombshell, #1)
  • A Philosophical Investigation
  • Roderick
  • Android: Free Fall
  • The Musashi Flex (Matador, #9)
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.
“I lied, therefore I thought.” 4 likes
“Jung's upper lip twitched, revealing a single, white fang. Only once had I seen him lose his temper, after someone at work had thought it funny to hide Jung's copy of Pride and Prejudice. He'd taken it well enough at first, but the prankster hadn't ended the gag soon enough and found himself facing a frothing, chest-beating, primal beast. No one got hurt, but that might not have been true if I hadn't been there to hold Jung back. After that, no one got between an eight-hundred-pound gorilla and Jane Austen.” 2 likes
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