Published by Text Publishing on 1 June 2016
Genres: Humour, Science Fiction
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Teenagers on skateboards jumped off walkways, dropped a dozen floors and activated rockets to safely land walkways below. Blake took a deep breath, inhaling something that smelt like a cross between burnt plastic and toffee apple. Neo City, Blake thought. Home, sweet home.
NEO City, 2509. After a series of operational bungles, as well as the accidental death of his partner, special agent Blake Carter’s career at the Planetary Bureau of Investigation is in trouble. To make matters worse, he’s just been assigned a new partner—and the beautiful and brilliant Nicki Steel happens to be a cyborg. When universe-famous criminal Bartholomew Badde steals a weapon capable of destroying whole planets at a time, Blake and Nicki must work together to recover it—an investigation that takes them to all corners of the weird and wonderful galaxy. But things get serious when Badde kidnaps Blake’s teenage daughter, Lisa. Can Blake prove he’s still a first-rate agent—not to mention father—and save Lisa in time?
As a long-time fan of both Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, I felt that this book had some big boots to fill. While it did have some of the slapstick humour of the Discworld and wacky aliens and robots of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, sadly I didn’t think A Toaster on Mars quite lived up to the blurb.
The evil genius Bartholemew Badde has stolen a Super-EMP from a high security facility on Earth. He’s holding the world to ransom, and to top it off, he has kidnapped Blake’s twelve-year-old daughter in an effort to force him to comply. Blake, his new cyborg colleague Nicki Steele, and his ex-wife Astrid must meet Badde’s demands to steal a super computer to get their daughter back alive.
I’m going to go for the list approach in this review. There were things about this book I really enjoyed, but there were also some things that I was disappointed in.
What I liked
- Neo City. I liked the way that the city was just constructed on the top of everything else for thousands of years, so that the current inhabitants lived around level 700 and the lower levels are actually a physical underbelly. Very dystopian.
- Bartholomew Badde – Such an evil villain yet occasionally compassionate captor. He genuinely seems to have no ambition other than being remembered as someone who destroyed a whole civilisation. Totally bonkers – I thought he was great.
- Nikki Steele, the cyborg. The poor girl is just trying to do her job while being only nine percent human and continuously called a robot. Actually, all of the characters had endeared themselves to me by the end.
What I didn’t like so much
- For a far-future society, it feels like they have culture that is stuck in the late 20th century. That’s like people who live now using references to celebrities of the Renaissance – so much history will exist between the 21st and 26th centuries, it seems slightly unrealistic that there would be an Elvis planet or that people would still be watching Survivor.
- I’m not sure why Blake agreed to Badde’s demands in the first place. Surely someone of his background, who had already chased down all sorts of criminals, would have some other course of action to take rather than just agree to do the dirty work?
- The interjections from Zeeb. The book has a foreword by Zeeb Blatsnart, the editor of Blake’s story, and a bit of an interplanetary Bear-Grylls-type figure, apparently. He has little interludes dispersed through the text, which have a bit of a HHGTG-footnote feel about them, but as they are just kind of in the way. Wow, I’m picky.
Read this book if you’re after a quick read with a silly sense of humour. It’s not quite Douglas Adams, but it’s entertaining.
Thank you to Text Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.