[A Star Curiously Singing]
If he fixes the robot, will he break his world?
The back of this wonderful book by Kerry Nietz instantly intrigued me. What about this robot? What is going to happen to his world? How'd the robot break and why not just not fix it? I plowed into the book full force trying to bludgeon my way to answers but I found....well, I'll not give it all away, but I found the book was a diamond in the rough. Make that a polished diamond.
1)I expected a good plot but somewhat obvious-I found a great plot that continually threw me through a roller-coaster ride of discovery that landed me at the last page and then, and only then, allowed me to take a deep breath and try to relax.
2)I expected a likable character if somewhat shallow.-What I received was an annoyingly real, lovable, humorous, 3D persona that I could easily imagine meeting in the real world(If we had implants).
3)This first time novel by Kerry wowed me, I want to read more!!!
Now, a review.....
SandFly is a debugger, level 12 actually. His life as a servant to the Abduls is about to change, forever. It’s a routine night working on the heavy lifts, they break, he fixes them, end of picture. Don’t interact with the other DRs unless you have to. Just get your job done before your master tweaks you. Besides from running into some incompetent 10s it seems he just might get the nanos in the lifter back into regiment and running again. The DR closest to him, HardCandy is an ice wall, also, a female. The first is not surprising, the second, an extreme exception. When some Abduls decide to have their brand of fun with her SandFly is torn between completing his job and leaving or doing something. His options of helping are extremely narrowed by the onboard correction system he has in his head. Also the controller his master is sure to have in his hands and ever ready to tweak with incase he takes too long. But he does what he thinks is good, though, having an onboard conscience in your brain in the form of an implant makes figuring out if anything but what your master wants is good, very difficult. Carefully not thinking about what he’s doing he uses the lift’s arms as a stabbing device to remotely stalk to the Abduls until they flee leaving HardCandy. His thanks? A heartfelt “Thank you” and a location. His visit to the location leaves him more mystified than ever, it is a numbing spot it seems for his implant, or is it more?
His master calls him to go aboard the DarkTrench, a space station and ship that can move through space at a speed boggling even to him. The explanation from the DarkTrench workers simplified? “Backwards to go forwards”. On board the space station, he finds his job is to diagnose a robot that ripped itself apart---highly efficiently. On his quest to find the answers, truth is hard to find, and becomes even more so as his access to the outside is completely removed, no messages in an out. Hee has only the stream to rely on and even his implant seems to be malfunctioning. As time goes on it becomes apparent through encrypted warnings snuck from the ground, that both HardCandy, and his favorite shopkeeper don’t think he’s going to come back. And coincidentally, after finding the implants of the level 15s in a stream proof storage room without their implantes, he doesn’t either. And fixing the robot didn’t go as planned either, somehow it is completely back to normal, but how, and what did it hear? It’s control chip was absolutely destroyed, so how is it running? They aren’t telling him something!
[Even at this point in the story I was completely clueless as to how it would all turn out, Kerry did an amazing job!]
SandFly’s job suddenly becomes more complex as his stall comment comes back to bite him, bad. “I need another DR to bounce ideas off of, and a chute!” The sleep chute they won’t give, but suddenly, they are willing to send up another DR, HardCandy. Now reduced to trying to keep them both alive as the Abduls realize the robot indeed is fixed and he was stalling.
Scallop decides now is the time to take SandFly out of the picture while retaining HardCandy for his own purposes--- when the robot begins spouting phrases from a forbidden book and speaking of A-A3. Once finished destroying the robot with nanopounders the Abduls turn their attention to him. To keep him from fighting they use the controller on HardCandy and demobilize her, reducing the DR to laying on the floor holding her head.
As he lays on the operating table and Scallop begins to burrow into his head to rip the implant out of him the robot streams faintly from a trash jettison, A-A3 had a message for him. “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of A-A3 and he will exalt you in due time” As the skull saw burrows into his head the excuses fall away and he realizes, he never looked, never hoped beyond A, but A-A3 is one that stoops. Moreover, he stooped to leave him, SandFly, a message. Words come rushing to his mind he never learned and he streams “STOP” with a scream. Instantly the saw stops and freedom begins.
Without tweaking to worry about his only thought is to capture the men onboard the station and confine them, to save HardCandy and live as a freehead. With the help of the onboard robots they over power the ships guards and force them into rooms after debilitating them. Ship takeover complete his next thought is Scallop, where has the man gone to? A long chase ensues with SandFly avoiding the nanopounder and bringing his bots to bear, in a desperate act Scallop commits suicide by getting sucked into space rather than be captured. The ship is his, with the help of three Abduls he has won, but it’s only just beginning….The superlative stream the robot heard, where did it come from? Who sent it? And who exactly is A-A3?