The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
”Self-preservation was a basic directive, but there wasn’t a robot functioning that prioritized it at the top of the list. Like biologicals all robots were seeking a purpose. Autos and drones were lucky enough to have that built into them. A bot had to find his own way and I’d figured out that functioning for function’s sake was pointless. The real question was finding a directive worth getting scrapped for.”
Mack Megaton was at the bottom of the sludge heap of Empire City, a city where weird science and toxic chemicals were turning biologicals into all kinds of interesting mutants. His best friend is a talking, book reading addicted Gorilla. The guy that keeps him out of trouble is a rodent biological by the name of Detective Sanchez. Mack is driving a cab and damn lucky to have that job instead of being in pieces at the spare part boneyard.
You see, he tried to take over the world.
It wasn’t his fault; he was programmed for world domination. He was supposed to bring biologicals to their knees.
His creator was obviously brilliant, but something went wrong.
”That defective electronic brain of yours is too prone to sentimentality, concerned with certain illogical motivations. They assumed you were the next step in their evolution, yet they can’t reconcile the apparently randomization of your behavior.”
He is still a cold calculating machine, but he is developing really bad habits that are traits only biologicals have. ”Of course they’d known I was lying. That was okay. It was one of the marks of sentience, the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy and still indulge in fantasy. In other words: I lied, therefore I thought.”
When in Rome, right? He is on his way to full citizenship if he can just stay out of trouble.
He can’t do it.
Mack decides to try and find a missing family of biologicals and soon finds himself up to his neck screws in trouble. Sam Spade with a spade for a face. Even before he pulls on the pin stripe suit of a private detective, he has Dame with a capital D problems, a four armed mutant trying to ”Burn him a new exhaust port,” and a telekinesic arsehole putting a virus into his software. He ”had him by the directives.”
As if it isn’t hard enough just being a bot.
I absolutely blew through this book. I was looking for something breezy with a zing, and this fit the bill perfectly. The action is non stop. The robot hardboiled dialogue was fresh and at times had me laughing out loud. I was hoping that A. Lee Martinez had written a follow up book, but as far as I can tell, this is it folks. Irresistible, great fun!
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