“Ever wondered what would Sherlock Holmes be like if it was set in the future? Well, look no further than Reality 36.”~The Founding Fields
After downloading an advance eBook from Angry Robot Publishers, I put Reality 36 on my IPod Touch and read it over the holiday, having been waiting for this novel since I’d first seen the cover art, and it doesn’t disappoint. Guy Hayley’s first novel opens up a unique detective novel which I haven’t seen anything like it before, unless you’re counting Sherlock Holmes.
The world building of Reality 36 is exceptional, and not just that – it’s believable, and gets you thinking that it could really happen in the near future, which helps to make the story ever more enjoyable.
Now, moving onto the plot and here’s a straightforward copy & paste of the blurb from Angry Robot’s website, as anything else – simply won’t do it justice.
Meet Richards and Klein – the Holmes and Watson of the 22nd century.
Except that Richards is a highly advanced artificial intelligence, and Klein his German ex-military cyborg partner. Their first case takes them into the renegade digital realm known as Reality 36 and through the Great Firewall of China, in search of a missing Artificial Intelligence Rights activist. What they find there will threaten every reality.
AIs are a common feature in this novel, with Richards being one himself, and in a way – this looks at discrimination as well, against these robots. For example, Europe and America have given the AIs the same rights as humans (back-story on this is detailed in a superb timeline at the end of the book), whereas in Asia, China has outlawed them completely.
Apart from Richards and Klein, the main protanagists, there are several other intriguing characters in this novel, like Veronique Valdaire, who boasts an alarm clock named Chloe, whose purpose seems to be annoy Veronique, and is deeply attached to its owner.
Like the publisher’s name would suggest, Reality 36 contains lots of robots in this novel, they aren’t just restricted to Chloe, Richards and Klein, but there are several others as well – smart ones like Richard’s friend who hates being called Hughie, and others as well, the list goes on – truly, if you’re a robot, or AI fan, or indeed, a fan of Sherlock Holmes, this is not to be missed.
The characterisation I found to be brilliant, and this is part of what makes everything seem so believable, as well as the action – which is pretty intense, well-written and there are some great pieces of description in this novel, as Hayley writes a strong, consistently-paced narrative that ends on a cliff-hanger that will only leave you wanting to read more – and you will be granted with a new book.
The plot is well-constructed as well, the only downside really, being the fact that it ends on a cliff-hanger – which makes it essential to pick up Omega Point if they want to know how it ends. From the end of the novel to the beginning, Reality 36 (I don’t know why I keep calling it Reality 46), the introduction serves as a near-perfect way to get to know Richards, the Sherlock, of the novel, and then explodes from there, creating an action-packed storyline that I found highly entertaining. Top quality stuff.
Even though it took a few chapters to get used to the surroundings, (Particularly after I’d just finished The Space Wolf Omnibus by William King, which was set in a grim-dark far future of Warhammer 40,000 (Note, Reality 36 puts across a relatively doom and gloom future for mankind as well, although it isn’t as far into the future as 40k), I was well and truly hooked, and only had to put it down when my IPod finally ran out of charge, much to my disappointment.
As well as the blurb that got me eagerly anticipating this novel, the cover art looks amazing also. If you want a closer look, just scroll up the page. It’s done by Richard Jones, and just bleeds awesomeness, standing out from the crowd, attracting all the attention that it deserves.
Obviously, Hayley’s novel is Science Fiction, there’s no doubt about that. It’s also a kind of a hybrid genre, merging Sci-Fi and Crime Fiction, which happen to be two of my favourite genres alongside Fantasy, so naturally – I was going to give this book a look at, at some point anyway.
More Richards and Klein: Omega Point [Coming in 2012]