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The Municipalists

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,465 ratings  ·  253 reviews
A novel about an unlikely pair of lonely outsiders--one human, one AI--on an adventure to save the great American city of Metropolis written by "one of the most exciting new voices in fiction" (Charles Yu)

In Metropolis, the gleaming city of tomorrow, the dream of the great American city has been achieved. But all that is about to change, unless a neurotic, rule-follo
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  1,465 ratings  ·  253 reviews

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Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Siobhan Jones

A civil servant and a supercomputer team up to stop terrorists. A Dark Matter-esque take on the life and death of great cities. A touching and funny story about an unlikely friendship. I’ve been trying, for weeks now, to come up with a zinger of a sentence that perfectly describes this book and makes everyone want to read it. Yet the words have eluded me. I’m beginning to think The Municipalists—a humorous sci-fi adventure with a mystery at its core—cannot be summed up so eas
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this for my March Book of the Month box, and if I get anything less than Hermes and Bender save the day I'm going to be very disappointed.

EDIT: So, not quite Bender and Hermes, but not disappointing. Quite enjoyable, and very fun to read aloud.
A fun, breezy adventure book in which straight-laced suits set on upholding the current world order are battling armed rebels who see the destruction of civilization in the most complex city in the US, Metropolis, as the only way to redistribute opportunity and resources in a place that has become the playground for the rich. In a somewhat surprising turn of events for a futuristic novel with a wiseacre AI with optical illusion capabilities, the rebels fighting for equality are the evil enemies ...more
The Municipalists isn’t a bad book; it’s actually a lot of fun. But it’s not a particularly good book either, a first novel from author Seth Fried which is both too thin and too reliant on exposition from its overly talkative and socially stunted biological narrator, Henry, an agent for the United States Municipal Survey, who finds himself teamed up with the artificial construct OWEN, the Object-Oriented Database and Working Ekistics Network, and sent to Metropolis, the shining city of the futur ...more
The Captain
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys! This was Seth Fried’s debut novel and I picked it up because it deals with an AI and a mission in the greatest city in the United States. This book was worth reading for the relationship between the protagonist, Henry Thompson, and the AI named OWEN. I absolutely loved crazy OWEN and his sense of humor. I also rather enjoyed stick-in-the-mud loner Henry. I completely sympathized with Henry and his background and wanted him to succeed. I thought that the juxtaposition of the ...more
Bill Hsu
If you're concerned about yet another tech thriller with an AI character, so am I. But this is mostly smart and funny, and good light entertainment, quite different from my memories of The Great Frustration. There are somewhat lengthy digressions into urban and transit planning, and handling social injustice; but these are issues that I care about. Also probably more action/thriller mechanics than I care for, but with some clever tricks. Light skimming can help those less tricks-y moments breeze by.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me this was a really fun book. It had a novel concept with some really interesting characters. I loved the role reversal of the staid, boring human and the flippant, unrestrained OWEN. The story was multi-dimensional with humor, pathos and a bit of adventure. It also gave me something to think about the where the future of AI is taking us.
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway for this honest review.
Coral Rose
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
My husband to me as I finally sat down and read this book this weekend: "You must be pretty excited about that one."
Me, puzzled, since I half-started it three weeks ago: "What do you mean?"
Him: "It's a male author. I know you don't read those unless you're really excited."

It was worth it. Wish he had written Artemis instead of Andy Weir the man child. This was funny, poignant and managed to be a buddy comedy without weird overt sexual innuendo and sexism.
Peter Tillman
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Peter by: Tom Shippey, WSJ
So far, not so good. I don't like the MC, the setup & world-building isn't plausible enough to keep my interest, the antic-holographic AI is, well, *weird.* The bureaucrats in Metropolis have turned thuggish.... OK, there's invention here, but the (alleged) humor is falling flat, for me, and the writing just isn't very good. I'm about 1/4 in and this is looking like an early DNF. Do yourself a favor, if you are thinking of reading this one, take a look at the 2-star reviews here. Mine (and t ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PLEASE WRITE A SEQUEL!!! This story was so incredibly fun and well-written. Fast read, but a crazy fun adventure! I am completely obsessed with OWEN and need more of him! The relationship between OWEN and Henry was fantastic!

Mr Reid, please please please write more about these characters! 💞

(Read this as my March 2019 Book of the Month Club pick!)
Love this book! Great themes! A mid-level bureaucrat can save the world!
kerry cullen
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
bonkers fun; highly recommend
Kristen Burns
3 Stars

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

If you want to read about a lovable AI getting drunk, flirting with other AI units, learning about the fragility of humans, imparting life lessons, and making a friend, then this might be the book for you. OWEN was the best thing about this book for me. Such a lovable little artificial intelligence.

I also really enjoyed the unexpected friendship (well, unexpected to the char/>
Carrie Carter
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, science-fiction, botm
A fun read about two lonely people, a man and an AI/super computer, that team up on an adventure to try and stop terrorists.

Once you get past the first 60-80 pages, this book turns into one wild ride!
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author uses so much description, which some might find excessive, but I found both necessary and entertaining. I have long loved the science-fiction genre, also called speculative literature because of its ability to look into the future through the lens of the present. Even dystopias, with a bleak outlook for the future use the present as the jumping point. Look at Hunger Games’ Panem, built on the land of the once United State of America — look at Winston’s world of thought-crimes and doub ...more
Realms & Robots
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Municipalists is a collection of strangely compelling elements that coalesce beautifully, resulting in one of the more unique novels I’ve read this year. I was surprised to find a novel centered on an uptight civil service worker whose defining feature is an obsession with trains and the transit systems of various cities. Coupled with a hilariously down-to-earth AI named OWEN, the novel sets off on a fun, albeit dangerous, mission in an enormous city named Metropolis. The story has a noir fe ...more
Lauren Carnahan
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was really fast paced and fun. It took a second for me to grab hold of all the infrastructure details and descriptions, but as soon as the hilarious supercomputer showed up, I was hooked.
Jennifer Hartgraves
Such a fun read! I fell in love with the characters 100% Super fast paced and I couldn’t put it down for a second.
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
DNF @ page 58

Simply put, I couldn't get into it. I was hoping that I'd end up loving it, but after a few chapters, I knew that it wasn't going to be the book for me.
Rachel (Sunflowerreads)
Didn't hate it. Didn't love it. Just "Meh."
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Full of humor, action, mystery and suspense, this story surprised me with its unexpectedly satisfying emotional depth.

I know I’ve stumbled onto a talented writer when a story’s themes are carried out from beginning to end, and that’s exactly what Seth Fried has done in The Municipalists . The two main characters, an odd couple consisting of a lonelreview.The
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an enjoyable, fun read. Part Science fiction, part mystery, part comedy... It is difficult to put this one into a descriptive box. It's also a story of the growth of a friendship between an unlikely pair of characters. I was highly entertained the whole way through. As a first novel, this one is a winner.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. A little irreverent and extremely fun.
Susan Sherman
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this futuristic city planning novel. It made me laugh, admire, and think about the future of cities and artificial intelligence. I am on my town's comprehensive plan committee so I was already thinking about mistakes that are made in community planning. This book introduced me to Seth Fried and I hope to meet him in writing again.
Alec Rigdon
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be very entertaining. Fried's sense of humor mixed with the futuristic espionage aspect was a pleasant surprise after not know anything about this book before reading it.
Ulf Kastner
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Urban planning was ripe for an entertaining rollercoaster ride take on it by way of Kafka meets Men in Black meets Solaris meets Her. I also thought that the stark contrast in personalities between the human bureaucrat protagonist and his virtual colleague was better than expected buddy comedy fodder.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Municipalists by Seth Fried is a quirky story about a rule-following bureaucrat and an off-the-rails AI who are thrown together to find the persons responsible for the shutdown at headquarters. Fried gives us a reality that revolves around the United States Municipal Survey, the organization responsible for improving and maintaining America’s infrastructure - one percentage point at a time. 😂 Story moves quickly with lots of hilarious moments. Another #BOTM book with zero buzz. But one you s ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---

I almost skipped entering for this giveaway. Here I am, though. Obligated to write a review for a book I didn't even finish reading. I didn't get far enough into the text to really comment on the plot. The problem is the writing. So utterly flat, which made it boring & uninteresting. It read like a collection of info. & events that was in the final stage of being developed into a story, but unfortunately no one ever b

James Hanney
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Who. Thinks. Of. This. Stuff! It was so underwhelming at first. I was not looking forward to the lackluster words delivered forth from the main characters dumb mouth, but once he is joined by his companion... OMG.

I can see my own self, my own attitudes, in both of them depending on my mood. The back and forth, the forced friendship, and the irritation in each other is so dry and amazing. I couldn’t get enough.

Such a great story. I wish there would have been more. I could
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Book of The Month: The Municipalists 2 22 Mar 23, 2019 10:55PM  

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Seth Fried is a recurring contributor to The New Yorker’s “Shouts and Murmurs” and NPR’s “Selected Shorts.” His writing has also appeared in Tin House, One Story, Electric Literature, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, Vice, and many others. His short stories have been anthologized in the 2011 and 2013 Pushcart Prize Anthologies as well as The Better of McSweene ...more
“What I am saying is that only when you give up on the fantasy of moral authority can you approach any problem without doing more harm than good.” 2 likes
“Just my luck. The first colleague I'd befriended at the agency and it was an alcoholic supercomputer.” 2 likes
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