Even in Empire City, a town where weird science is the hope for tomorrow, it's hard for a robot to make his way. It's even harder for a robot named Mack Megaton, a hulking machine designed to bring mankind to its knees. But Mack's not interested in world domination. He's just a bot trying to get by, trying to demonstrate that he isn't just an automated smashing machine, and to earn his citizenship in the process. It should be as easy as crushing a tank for Mack, but some bots just can't catch a break.
When Mack's neighbors are kidnapped, Mack sets off on a journey through the dark alleys and gleaming skyscrapers of Empire City. Along the way, he runs afoul of a talking gorilla, a brainy dame, a mutant lowlife, a little green mob boss, and the secret conspiracy at the heart of Empire's founders - not to mention more trouble than he bargained for. What started out as one missing family becomes a battle for the future of Empire and every citizen that calls her home.
©2008 A. Lee Martinez (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Martinez tickles the funny bone in this delightful, fast-paced mishmash of SF and hard-boiled detective story.... Eccentric characters, all of whom are clever twists on stereotypes, populate a smart, rocket-fast read with a clever, twisty plot that comes to a satisfying conclusion." (Publishers Weekly)
“This combination sci-fi/hard-boiled detective story is a hoot….Narrator Marc Vietor approaches the story with a classic noir tone that is hilarious.” (AudioFile)
The concept is pretty simple, but clever. "Hey, what if we took the hardboiled detective thing, and stuck in in a 'futuristic' city--or what people thought the future would look like back in the early 1960s?" It really commits to bringing these elements to life. On the one hand, you have an unflappable, keen-eyed detective; an honorable but restricted police chief; a wickedly intelligent, sexy, and dangerous femme fatale; a number of lowlife thugs; and a simple crime that unravels to a big conspiracy. On the other hand, the detective is a robot, the police chief is a rat mutant, the femme fatale is a genius inventor, the thugs have mind control, and the big conspiracy is...well, I guess you'd have to read it.
Mack is a fun lens to see the world through, and his allies are all pretty likeable as well, but it got really hard to keep most of the villains apart because they're all pretty same-y.
There's intentionally a lot of "zee-rust" on the science fiction, though--ideas that have become obsolete before coming to fruition. For example, there's a weird contradiction that you need a computer the size of a room to analyze Mack's main processor, and yet his computer itself is barely the size of a basketball. There are also a lot of "mutants" but the idea of mysterious radioactive goop bestowing superpowers went out of fashion with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
But the overarching mystery leaves a lot to be desired. By taking the hardboiled detective mystery out of the real world, it becomes a lot harder to follow the mystery. Every time Mack goes to a new location, he has to describe it, because Empire City is completely different, and while that gives you a lot of time to admire the scenery it makes it really hard to try to think things through and solve the mystery alongside him.
If you like a good hard hitting detective book with a side order of science fiction then this is your book. Robots, flying cars, and mutants set in a futuristic roaring 20s garb and slang.
This is a great, fun, twist on several genres.
Reminds me of the "Hard Luck Hank" series.
This book manages warmth, humor, and action very well. Martinez has made a career out of twisting sci-fi tropes into new kinds of characters, and this one is no different. The world-destroying super-robot is now a taxi driver forced into solving a mystery; and the evil crime syndicate is just [SPOILER].
If not for the mutant gorilla sidekick, it would make no sense. This is old-school sci-fi with old-school crime noir, with new-school sensibilities. It's a treat.
The amazing deadpan delivery coupled with a fantastic sense of humour made this book at the light to listen to. One of my favourite authors!
At its heart, this is a solid, well-done, entertaining hard boiled detective novel, except in this case the detective (Mack Megaton) is a 7-foot tall, 700 pound robot (or "automated citizen") and he lives in Empire City, a city populated with other robots, biological mutants, and biological norms. Mack is a colorful character (and not just because he's painted red), as are the other characters in this fun book. He's a robot with heart and I really enjoyed his narrative voice. I wish this was the start of a series, but alas, it is not. If you like standalone books and hard boiled detective stories, and don't mind zany characters and bizarre situations, I'd highly recommend this book. Narrator Marc Vietor does a fantastic job and really makes Mack and all the characters come to life. This is well worth the Audible credit!
This is a real over the top story. I mean it starts with a robot detective and that's really the most grounded thing in the whole affair. A. Lee Martinez gleefully mashes every 50's B-movie trope he can find into a single cohesive story. That feat on it's own should be applauded. This is not a book to make you think it's a summer blockbuster with spectacle and big explosions sitting on top of a simplistic plot. "Bad guys kidnap good people for evil plan and robot detective stops them" the totality of the story. It's a simple but enjoyable book worth a read.
This is an awesome book. If you want a sci-fi sundae smothered in true-grit detective sauce, this book is for you.
Max Megaton is kinda like Jack Reacher, if Jack had titanium skin and Max had the urge to bed his sexy female partner. Both are hard as nails (one literally, the other figuratively), and both left the military to strike out on their own.
He definitely brought the feel of an 'olde tymey' radio broadcast to life here.
Laugh Out Loud (yes, some of us old timers can still spell instead of using textage type). The snark is in full bloom in this novel.
I'm hooked. Downloading Mr. Martinez' next novel now.
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