Made To Kill by Adam Christopher
The notes indicate that Christopher is a big fan of Raymond Chandler (who isn’t), and was moved to write a science fiction story in the style of Chandler. This is a fine idea, but hardly new. Everybody wants to write like Raymond Chandler, and there have been plenty of noir/SF, going back to The Stars My Destination (1957), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), and dozens more by everybody from Asimov to Zelazny.
Anyway, the story here is a retro future thing, set in an imaginary 1965 in LA. The protagonist is an Asimovian robot who didn’t read (or decided to ignore) the memo from Sensei Isaac about not harming humans. He’s a licensed PI, but murder for hire pays a lot better.
Christopher’s alternate “hi tech” is fun to read, and makes the story possible, but is rather arbitrary. Somehow this superhumanly strong robot can think, but only remembers that last 24 hours since the nightly battery swap. I have no idea how this actually works. How can you function with no memory? Amazing mind transfer, but the robot runs off some kind of tape cassette with only 24 hours capacity? These things make little sense, except to crate the atmosphere of strangeness in otherwise familiar LA.
The plot hinges on stuff that only makes sense in this alternate world. I won’t even try to explain or critique—it is what it is. To me, the giant conspiracy and technological threat are more James Bond or Get Smart, than truly scary.
I didn’t find the writing particularly Chandlerian, except in setting and spirit. I’m afraid there is a huge different between “Chandler” and “homage to Chandler”.
But the writing is pretty good nevertheless, and the dialog and characters are better than the sixties pulp they are meant to invoke. The plot is goofy, but interesting enough to keep reading.
- Adam Christopher, Made To Kill, New York, TOR, 2015.
Sunday Book Reviews