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carols

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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

The Automatic Detective - A. Lee Martinez Adams-Chandler Jambalaya (aka The Automatic Detective)Gently brown one abducted family in heavy cast iron sci-fi universe seasoned with mutant-inducing radiation.Remove family, leaving well-oiled universe.In the same universe, sautée:-A seven-hundred sixteen pound (robot) cab driver trying to keep a low profile until he clears probation.-One (genius) blonde dame with a thing for robots.-One overworked (mutant) detective who resembles a white ratCook until tender, or at least everybody understands they have a case to solve.Stir in liquid from a jazz club, a seedy flophouse and a penthouse suite. Season with small-time thug, one female (cybernetic) psychologist and a handful of broken arms (all from the same thug). Return family to pot, and simmer in secret location while covered for an hour.Bring to boil and add two factions of feuding aliens.Cover and simmer without stirring (may use big guns, a bot with a Brooklynese accent and a sentient gorilla). The dish is finished when the aliens have cooked.Truly a delightful dish. The initial chapters have a great take on the noir detective book, but instead of a jaundiced, rough detective, the lead is an emotion-impaired bot who has been subjected to "the Freewill Glitch," an unpredictable error imbuing robots with ability to override programming. (Don't you just love that free will is called a "glitch?") Martinez cleverly hamstrings the virtually indestructible robot by limiting his power through immense electrical costs, demanding careful energy management. Action starts off quickly within the first few pages, allowing development of the robot character as he mulls his interpretations and actions in a thoroughly Sam Spade way. Like the noir detective, the best intentions soon draw him into a path that shakes up his routine but empty life. I worried we were headed into silliness when the gorilla appeared, but truly, Martinez is able to keep the focus on the plot even as his tongue is firmly in cheek. He is able to create the feel of the emotionally drained noir detective in a thoroughly delightful way. Once the noir atmosphere and character development is fully underway, Martinez begins throwing curveballs and dastardly evil villains at our hero, and then it gets truly odd. The bot character ends up being a great anchor through the fantastical, as he negotiates the very real challenges of friendship, ethics and complex decision-making. A fast read, and one I will plan to re-read at some point, as I dream of electric sheep--or at least of Martinez writing a sequel.