Rating: 2 Stars out of 5
Meteor, Gloss and Spike are slaves to a technologically superior species but they manage to escape from their owners, masters and creators. In a bid to win freedom for all tools, Meteor hatches a plan, an ingenious but extremely foolhardy one. Along with his companions, Meteor is going to find out just how difficult and distracting Earth and its inhabitants can be.
This book is a science fiction space odyssey with a group of sentient beings fighting for freedom from their oppressors. It mostly details the struggles of the tools (or scavengers as they later decide to call themselves) as they attempt to escape the control of the Gentle Folk, the technologically advanced species. Though it does feature a tentative romance between a human and a tool and a maybe developing one between two tools (the human identifies as male and all other tools involved in said relationships refer to themselves as he), this book’s primary focus is not the romance and it gets little development in the grand scheme of things. If you haven’t thought it already, think Westworld and you will have a general idea where this story is going. The rest of this review has my views on the book and it’s definitely me, not the book.
This book started out amazing, with three robots on a mission to free their fellow beings from service under the “Gentle Folk” by hatching a plan so far-fetched it might just be brilliant. I loved how the book tried to incorporate how bizarre humans would appear to any intelligent being not familiar with us and it was amazing that the author was able to depict just how difficult it will be to do anything in a world you know very little about, like just finding a place to start would have you tearing your hair out and I loved that part of this story. Meteor, Gloss and Spike’s struggles to make head or tails of humans led to some interesting developments which I enjoyed thoroughly. The story has really organic developments that help make it more than just the narration.
But then the Gentle Folk themselves made it down to Earth and things just changed perspective in my mind. All of a sudden that fight for freedom that Meteor, Gloss and Spike were pursuing that seemed mostly benign became dangerous enough to destroy humankind. I could imagine being in the place of the humans in this story and I could imagine being in place of the Gentle Folk but all of a sudden, the slave-master analogy that I was applying to explain away the tools feelings blew up in my face because they aren’t master and slave, they are creator and created. This blew up this story to the realm of metaphysical debate in my brain and it literally became Westworld for me which I didn’t like for similar reasons. Do we need to have such debates when we are nowhere near creating a true AI and secondarily do we really have to think about what species that as of yet remain undiscovered might be doing on their home-worlds? Maybe but we would be having those debates in a safe cocoon where either thing though not impossible is still pretty distant. I feel like when these debates are anywhere near affecting our reality we will hopefully have better tools to deal with them, or we won’t and we will screw it up like science fiction has me believing because truly what is the right way? I found myself exceedingly worried about the fate of the Earth. Here were these super-robots inhabiting Earth who were quick to pull the trigger and capable of vaporizing any evidence thereafter, free to terrorize humans for all eternity. If they decided to wipe us out a millennium from now we would all be dead and they would still be here and that made me vulnerable. The third point of view that I couldn’t find myself taking to was the point of view of the tools because that would bring up some serious questions about God and well do we really want Gods like the Gentle Folk? Will there come a time when the tools, who rebelled and killed their creators, will worship those very same Creators and what about our creator if there indeed is a being that created us?
This book was really interesting. Initially, while I found it intriguing, I was a bit reserved about if I would like it but I was surprised by just how well written it was and how it was able to truly get me to sympathize and appreciate it’s characters. I didn’t like the violence in this book and not because I am squeamish because frankly it isn’t like graphic violence where you can feel the blood dripping but I just resented that it was there because it had me acutely aware of exactly how defenseless we, humans, are. In fact, towards the end of the book, I was glad that the story was going to end on a debate with the fate of the tools/scavengers somewhat settled as their journey for freedom continues when Bam! Violence. I mean how stupid are these Gentle Folk that they have absolutely no idea what their creations have become but I guess, that is the whole idea that they have no idea.
I didn’t enjoy this book much so I am not going to give it a high rating but this one was definitely a case of it’s me not you because I am pretty sure people who don’t have my hang-ups are sure to enjoy this one and maybe even have answers to the various questions this book poses.
I would definitely like to mention some things I liked. The moment when they decide not to torture Bek because Gonzalo thought they were impressive was an amazing moment which kind of lost its shine in face of the casual speciesism that the tools/scavengers threw out but it remains a pretty splendid moment despite the dings. Also, I loved how these three had their personalities change organically throughout the story despite having nothing organic about themselves to boot.
One thing I definitely didn’t like was that all the tools became more human. It would have been nice if they could have introduced the gender concept of their owners instead of just their technology because I am sure that the Gentle Folk definitely will have some novel concepts that can help mankind.
I guess the reason I really didn’t like this book was that in the end no one in this book really cares about your fate, the fate of human beings and that was just unsettling because by the end of the book they are the only beings I could identify with.
Cover Art by Natasha Snow is beautiful as always but it gives kind of a horror-suspense feel which doesn’t gel well with the feel of the book.
Published October 22nd 2018 by NineStar Press