Sunday, March 12, 2017

Standard Hollywood Depravity, by Adam Christopher

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(Diesel Punk) In an alternate 1960s LA, Ray is the last robot in the world, and he's working as a hit man. (26,366 words; Time: 1h:27m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

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"," by (edited by Lee Harris and Miriam Weinberg), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The story has good narration and dialogue, and good tension. The mystery is captivating. Little hints let us guess the time frame. The money is $500 and $1000 bills (portraits of McKinley and Cleveland), which puts it pre 1969, and the recent popularity of English rock stars puts it after 1964.

Con: There's nothing about this story that needed Ray to be anything but a big, strong, tough guy (maybe with a bullet-proof vest). The speculative element actually detracts from the story by making it hard for us to like him.

Obviously 1960s technology was nowhere close to able to produce a robot like Ray or an AI like Ada. The author's habit of reminding us of this every few paragraphs is infuriating. Phrases like "My logic gates told me" or "something my circuits could get a grip on" are distracting and they do nothing to make Raymond seem anything other than a slightly eccentric human. It dehumanizes him just enough to make him unlikable.

Beyond Ray, Ada is downright evil, and the mobsters aren't particularly sympathetic characters either. At the end, we don't much care who wins, if anyone, and that sucks most of the life out of the story.

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