Preface: I was given an ARC for this novel by the author.
Twitter Summary: A zanier, more localized Robopocalypse.
Amazon Affiliate Link: CTRL ALT Revolt!
I ran across Nick Cole’s Soda Pop Soldier because I can no longer bring my Kindle to work, and needed something to read in deadtree. The title, and then the cover art caught my eye, and after reading it, I tweeted to the author, which lead to eventually getting this ARC, which really led to me deciding it was time to get a review site. I’ve been blessed with ARCs from a few authors, and I decided that I wanted to give back more than just Amazons/Goodreads reviews.
Ctrl is a prequel to Soda Pop, but you’re not going to miss any plot points if you haven’t read Soda Pop first. There are definitely a few nods to continuity, but this is a stand alone story.
While not a comedy book, it’s significantly less grim and dystopian than most “Singularity results in machines trying to kill us stories.” There is a level of slapstick comedy involved, resulting in some great moments such as one of the characters cosplaying Evil Dead Bruce Campbell, a protagonist with the name of Fish, and various and sundry geek references strewn throughout. It’s a story that has fun with the tropes involved.
Most of my issues with the book come in the last twenty percent. I enjoyed the Deus ex Machina and thought it was foreshadowed well, but some are going to see it as coming out of left field. My main concern though, is that there seem to be a lot of plot threads that get dropped near the end. A couple of the characters just… don’t show up anymore.
My favorite parts of the book were the same as my favorite parts of Reamde, the video game world building. I love the explanations of how decisions were made, and while I miss the math/geology/science of Stephenson’s take, I much prefer the fact that Nick COle doesn’t seem like he’s beating me over the head with info, and that it’s well integrated into the story.
This book was exactly what I wanted to be. A fun romp with killer robots, men with chainsaw arms, and some cool worldbuilding.
Final Verdict: Enjoyed and the author will go on my pre-order/must buy list.
AI Uprising stories: Wyrm by Mark Fabi and Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Near future: Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Minus the eighty page gun battle. Just skim that) and Daemon by Daniel Suarez
ADDENDUM: The book that originated the world, Soda Pop Soldier, was published by HarperCollins. When the author offered me an ARC I didn’t realize that the book was being self-published by him, through Amazon. His explanation for that is here. Banned by the Publisher
My only opinion on that post is that things are rarely that black or white, that I am reluctant to form any other opinion without hearing from some of the other principals involved, and that “Banned by the Publisher” seems very hyperbolic.
What I do know is that while I did thoroughly enjoy the book, there were some sections that I believe the author’s beliefs on trans persons, social justice, and “political correctness” shown through in such a way that I was not surprised to find that he identifies as a conservative or that he is a supporter of GamerGate and Sad Puppies.