I had four audiobook credits to use and didn’t know what to get, so I asked twitter authors to give me a summary of their stuff if they had an accompanying audiobook. It had been a while since I had read sci-fi and the description for this one caught my attention so I picked it up.
The beginning is a bit slower, but not the kind that drags on and on and you’re wondering if you’re going to continue or not. It’s the kind of slow where you’re getting to know the character really well before the meat of the plot gets going. This may or may not appeal to you guys, but I generally enjoy investing first in character and second in everything else. The MC lost his wife five years ago in a terrorist attack, her train blew up and he’s been living in the past ever since. In his desperation and grief, he did something illegal… he transferred a composite of her personality into a bot, effectively living with the ghost of his wife for years now. This world has surveillance everywhere and one of the culture’s central hubs which all life revolves around is social media. Using all the video and data from social media he was able to reconstruct a near-perfect representation of his dead wife. However, because this is all based on external data, her inner workings and personal thoughts are gone – and with it all of her secrets.
Before she died she started acting strange. She was asking questions that didn’t make a lot of sense, she was tense and aloof, and she withdrew a lot of money from their account. The train she died on wasn’t even supposed to have passengers, and she didn’t tell her husband she was planning on taking this trip. The police investigating the explosion weren’t helpful and gave Rause almost nothing to go on. He is trying to piece together what happened and is using the AI to help him out. Meanwhile, a celebrity has died and the official reason is ‘drug overdose’ but there’s sufficient reason to believe it was foul play instead.
The world-building was pretty neat, I liked the planet “Magenta” (named for its pink algae). I like it when authors take into account things like different gravitational forces for different planets, putting thought into different ecosystems, and working out plausible sustainable food resources in space like bugs and algae. Magenta is a hard planet to live on with lots of intense storms – to the point where the buildings are built more like bunkers. It’s also a heavy gravity planet and it takes a month’s worth of specialized gravity acclimation to go out on the planet’s surface, much like a diver and getting the bends. There’s also something called “The Masters” who are aliens that fuck around with humanity every now and then. They left behind technology that humanity was trying to analyze and use for their own advantages for hundreds of years with no success.
I can’t recall just how far in the future this was, but the use of the word “dude” felt kinda odd. I would assume many slang terms would have changed between now and when planets are getting settled far in the future. Other than that I don’t have many complaints about the prose. It was more of a straight forward writing style that gets out of the way of the story but also providing imagery and immersive scenes. To me, in sci fi, that’s a perfect balance. The dialogue felt natural and the pacing was pretty good if a little slow at points.
Overall I’d recommend this, especially if you’re playing r/fantasy’s bingo and still need the AI square. The narration was well done, I was into it enough to keep going and finish in a couple of days, and there was a good amount of character development which I sometimes struggle with in sci-fi.
TLDR: The setting is the far future when humans are colonizing other worlds. A man loses his wife in a terrorist attack and illegally downloads her persona into a bot and tries to solve her murder.
- Plot: 12/15
- Characters: 12.5/15
- World Building: 13/15
- Writing: 12.5/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
Final Score: 80/100 or 4 stars on GR