Drones by Rob J Hayes

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I’ve read a few books by Rob J Hayes, I’ve liked them all but they’ve all been within the same universe. I was very interested what Rob would do with a sci fi, and I’ve been meaning to add more sci fi into my reading schedule anyway 😀

This is written in the first person present tense, it’s a story about a man named James Garrick and his life as a Drone. Drones are people who have their emotions drained out of them and stored via tech that’s able to transfer emotions from one person to the next. For a long time, this Harvesting process has been illegal, it’s considered an affront to peoples privacy even if it’s voluntary. James had a trauma 4 years ago and ever since he’s been a Drone, finding comfort and ease in the dull void that is the life of a Drone. Having your feelings extracted often leaves Drones as flat robotic like people, some of them are almost incapable of normal interactions with people because they’ve had so much of themselves sucked out. Emotions do start to trickle back the longer it’s been since emotions have been harvested, and James finds it extremely uncomfortable after living a life of numbness for so long.

Certain emotions are more valuable than others, and they have to be pure genuine emotions for it to be worth the price to customers. In order to get some of these emotions, like fear/rush James resorts to things like skydiving to capture that pure adrenaline rush people are looking to buy. Many emotions have no market value at all, envy, disgust, irritation etc are all emotions that people don’t want and don’t buy, James has them removed and discarded rather than trying to push them on the black market. Other emotions are highly profitable and make sense that people buy them in large quantities: companionship, love, affection, sense of belonging.

Other emotions are hard to come by, aren’t requested very often, but when they are they are extremely expensive. Things like terror come at a huge price. In order to be terrified, truly terrified, there has to be some sense of doubt about your safety, true doubt that you’re going to make it out alive or not. Fear can be accomplished somewhat easier, jumping off a building and parachuting down creates fear, but there’s always that sense of safety that you’re going to pull the shoot and not crash into the ground. Most Drones won’t touch a terror request, James seems to be the only one in town who would take an offer like that.

James takes the request, and comes up with a plan that he will have his memory blocked, and placed in a simulation. The simulation had him in a “chop shop” where people are known to disappear and be harvested for their body parts. He’s able to get his terror, store it, and starts heading back to his Harvester, Pascal. Pascal could be described as James’s only friend, he doesn’t have the emotional capacity or free time to develop any meaningful relationships. When he arrives at Pascals to deliver the order, he finds him dead. He doesn’t know how or why, but the assassins did a nearly clean sweep of his building, taking out most of his body guards along with Pascal. The one survivor, Kendall, was Pascal’s personal assassin and is as confused as James is as to why someone would want Pascal dead.

New legislation also passed the same day that Pascal died, (probably not a coincidence), it’s a new law that legalizes the Harvesting of emotions, an extremely controversial bill that’s sure to cause drama. Pascal knew this law was going into affect, and knew that it could drive his illegal business out of business, what he didn’t seem to know is that someone wanted him dead.

Out of work with no Harvester to sell his emotions, James finds himself working with an old friend from a few years ago on security detail. He has to adjust to his new life, and also find another avenue to get rid of his emotions. He’s finding it more and more difficult to deal with the guilt and trauma he experienced in his past, and needs a way to get rid of those thoughts soon.

While on protection duty for the tech mogul, things go horribly wrong, shots are fired, and then RPG’s are used to blow up the entire lobby. A few of James’s crew are killed and afterward, he finds himself tangled in a deep web of terrorists against the new tech, the tech company that’s bedding down with the government, and a host of conspiracies. It’s action-packed for such a short book.

This was written in the first person present tense, and it’s been a while since I read one of those so it took a little bit to adjust to it. The writing style was also pretty different from what I’ve read from Rob J Hayes before, it’s a little more stylized and it’s heavily focused around emotions and how the main character is feeling at any given moment. The sentences are shorter and more clipped than I’ve seen in his other books, not quite as staccato as Anna Smith-Spark, but more so than most books I read. It was also free from spelling and grammar errors, which isn’t surprising because I don’t tend to find them in Hayes books.

I really loved the originality of this, and the idea of emotions being used as drugs. The setting was neat, it’s a futuristic Earth where social media has taken over peoples live. Me.com is akin to Twitter/Facebook/Instagram all rolled into one and is one of the largest contributors to the economy. There are lots of people who spend all day looking at their PD’s more concerned with digital interactions than “real ones” – which sparked a counter-culture/terrorist movement rebelling against societies reliance on tech. This is far enough in the future that certain major cities are no longer recognizable. Paris was almost abandoned after France’s borders were erased, the old structures are crumbling, but as major tech companies see it as an opportunity to revitalize an old city, it’s divided between near-ruins and brand new sky scrapers.

Audience:

  • single pov
  • first person writing
  • quick/shorter books
  • sci fi
  • drugs/black market
  • set in future

Ratings:

  • Plot: 12.25/15
  • Characters: 12/15
  • World Building: 13/15
  • Writing: 12.5/15
  • Pacing: 13/15
  • Originality: 13/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 8/10

Final Score: 83.75/100 – 4.5 stars recommended!!

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