Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at a time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
I just noticed that there’s a pull quote on the cover from Publisher’s Weekly…I mean, I knew it was there but I didn’t really look at it until today given what it says: “The pace is unrelenting.” Yeah. The definition I looked up gave me two possibles: “not yielding in strength, severity, or determination”, which given that the pace of the story itself has been slowed by worldbuilding and showing off this is The Future amuses me, and “(of a person or their behavior) not giving way to kindness or compassion”, and while I’ve had worse part of me thinks this is what the reviewer had in mind. To be sure I looked to see if they put the review online, which they did for the original hardcover. The one for the paperback is just a truncated version of this one. It’s short and for some reason has an extra “r” but here it is:
Some of Shatner’s projections are likely (newspapers and magazines published by fax), some are improbable (androids so human-like that most people can’t tell the difference) and some are the same old thing (a missing scientist with the standard-issue beautiful daughter).
Well, given many people get their news from a website rather than fax we actually outpaced the future, roboticists are trying to make those kinds of androids (which worries me), and that plot does get used quite a bit. The last time we saw it here the daughter and the scientist were evil and menacing the cyborg version of the Three Stooges. This is the line the pull quote comes from.
While the writing is awkward in spots, the pace is unrelenting.
I’ve found the pace rather slow thus far, though last chapter it at least was starting to find a balance between the worldbuilding and story. Now the story needs to overtake the worldbuilding and just be the parts that matter. Let’s see if it makes waves in that direction this chapter.
We start on the aftermath from the previous chapter, as Jake goes to check on Gomez, who turns out to be injured but alive. He also notes that there were no human remains, so I guess there weren’t any other people close enough to get blown up with Danenberg, though there is a dead cat. Not much to say here. We later learn his leg is broken and he might have a concussion but this is The Future. He’ll walk it off…more or less. There’s a few descriptions to set the scene and that’s it.
The next section is nice enough to only give us information that matters. Namely what a “kamikaze” is in this case. Jake is confronted by his old police chief, who apparently is convinced he’s guilty and while he doesn’t give a reason he tells him to forget working for Cosmos. I want to hate the guy but given that he thinks Jake is guilty I at least understand his actions, even trying to goad Jake into hitting him to violate parole. Hambrick…which is somehow a worse name than Cardigan…tells Jake about androids that can pass for humans, surprisingly just as mentioned in the review snippet above. I hadn’t planned that, honest.
Some androids are used as body doubles, so I guess The Human Target is out of work. (For you DC and Rick Springfield fans.) Others are rigged as suicide bombers, probably called “kamikaze” because they were made in Japan. I don’t know who named them (besides the author and/or helper) but as you can guess the bum was one of these kamikaze androids. Fortunately “Danenberg” was one of those body double androids, which is why Jake didn’t notice any human remains, just robots and a cat. Now they just have to find the real Dr. Danenberg but the police haven’t had any luck and Jake’s been looking after his injured partner.
This is GOOD worldbuilding, one that actually matters to the story, and if memory serves this isn’t the last time Life Model Decoys (being fair to Marvel fans) will come up in this story. In the next chapter we may not see more androids (although will we recognize them?) but we will finally meet Jake’s new boss. That should be fun.