Guy Haley writes a killer novel as he debuts with Angry Robot and djinn24 and Commissar Ploss review the audio book from Angry Robot produced by Brilliance Audio.
The duo of Richards and Klein is here to stay for a long time, how excellent! - Larry, The Founding Fields.
Reality 36 bounces you between beautiful sweeping digital landscapes, and dirty, grim, grimy real-world cityscapes in a wild-goose-chase to save the world. It’s fun! -Commissar Ploss, The Founding Fields
I love sci fi and mystery books so this book is right up my alley. Guy does an amazing job building the story. Normally an author only has to worry about writing about one world, Guy has outdone himself building no less then three worlds; Earth 2129, the Grid, and the ex-game Reality 36. You learn in the future of the Earth that Artificial Intelligence is a commonplace occurrence, with currently six known variance, with every series an improvement over the previous. Here are two different types of AI, low AI and high AI. Lower AI are made for single purposes, like making coffee, while higher AI are created to do a wider variety of difficult tasks. This is different with the Class 5 AIs who have complete free will and where not built with a purpose in mind so they are allowed to take up their own station in life. The Grid is much like the internet that we know now though from what is said in the book much more advanced and replied upon more. While humans can reside on the Grid through uplinks, the AIs can truly live on the Grid and this is where they shine. Reality 36 is an outlawed area that started as a video game but was outlawed after AIs where granted rights. Of the original 36 realms only 32 still exist after malicious hackers destroyed 4 of them.
This is where Richards comes in, he is a Class 5 AI who decided to become a detective. He is joined in his partnership with Otto Klein, an ex-soldier from Germany who happens to also be a cyborg. Richards is a character to say the least. Like all other Class 5 AIs he has his own server (or Base Unit) where he actually resides but controls bodies all over the world to interact with the human world. These can include near human sheaths to bodies that do not look real, much like the cover art for the book. Richards loves the 1920s gumshoe persona and that is how he chooses to show himself when he has the choice, complete with the felt hat. He is every bit of an expletive laden smart-ass. To me this character is who makes the book for me. Otto Klein is almost the opposite of Richards, dead serious Soldier, killer cyborg, and an all around badass. As we learn through flashbacks within the book, Otto comes with some baggage and while he is still a bad ass in every sense of the word, he is an aging bad ass who is starting to feel all the aches and pains of his cyber enhanced body. During several scenes we get to see just how awesome he can still be though, even though he is a bit obsolete and aging.
The story of this book starts when Richards and Klein are hired to find the murderer of a prominent scientist who was a pinnacle in the AI rights movement. Seemingly a normal job for them until the realize that this goes much deeper then just a simple murder. Now they are on the hunt for his assistant Veronique Valdaire who is on the run from the VIA (the global investigation body into AI related issues) with Chloe, her AI personal assistant who at one point was her doll and is now her heavily modified phone that does some pretty amazing things.
I really enjoyed this book, though at first it was a little hard to keep track with what was happening. Others have mentioned that the timing of this book seems off and in some ways I agree though I do not think it detracts from the book and really only affects the book in the beginning and towards the end the book rights itself nicely. As we said above, the worlds of this book are really well done and makes you want to learn more about the AI5s of the world and more of the lead up to how Earth ended up the way it is now. The characters are really well done as well. The odd couple play well off of each other with Richards lending enough wit to give you nice breaks of humor while reading. All of the characters feel as if you can get to know them from the books which is great. I find a problem with some rookie authors is their characters seem stiff and flat, not a problem that Guy seems to have encountered with his book. The big issue I had with this book is the ending was too abrupt and cut off way to quickly. I honestly think that Guy could have written a bit more and closed the current story lone a bit more. That being said there is a tons of room for this world to expand and many books to be written in this series. Really looking forward to listen to Omega Point.
Brilliance audio did a brilliant job of turning this story into an audio book. I really like that Brilliance does these unabridged so we get to hear the entire story instead of only part of the story. This book comes on 11 CDs and runs for around 12 hours. There is no music soundtrack except at the beginning and end of the book to show that a new CD has started or ended. The voice actor Michael Page does an amazing job adding life to this story, making all characters unique with their own voice in it.
Larry’s Overall: 8/10
Commissar Ploss’ thoughts:
I’d like to focus on the audiobook itself. You’ve gotten a feel for the plotline of the book itself and I definitely insist that you pick this particular story up, as it is completely worth it. However, Brilliance Audio has made a strong effort to render the story in perfect clarity. The particular voice actor they chose for this title performed fantastically! He’s a very well-rounded actor, especially when it comes to the characters. Each is unique, including the female characters in the novel. From talking animals to machine-esque characters, he’s represented all spectacularly.
There is a keen pace throughout this novel, however you will notice fluctuations in the speed with which it is read. That is completely intentional, as there are sections of the story that don’t necessarily require action-packed recitation. It helps you formulate a better picture within your mind and keeps you from burning out your cortex with all of the information provided. The story really is a beautifully painted picture.
I’m keeping my portion of this review short, as I’m sure you’re already itching to get your hands on it. And if you aren’t… there’s something wrong with you. This story and its performance pleased me greatly. It has definitely been one of my favorite titles of this year.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Angry Robot (first published August 4th 2011)
0857661469 (ISBN13: 9780857661463)