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Read The Automatic Detective (2008)

The Automatic Detective (2008)

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3.95 of 5 Votes: 3
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0765318342 (ISBN13: 9780765318343)
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The Automatic Detective (2008) - Plot & Excerpts

Book Review: ‘The Automatic Detective’ by A. Lee MartinezTor, 2008ISBN-10: 0-7653-5794-1317 pagesWhat makes comic books one of the more addictive creations in existence? They stand somewhere between a book and a movie, those colorful pages with their little bubbles of dialog. I suspect most of us go through a stage of absolute comic book addiction, and some of us never get out of it. In fact, it’s probably a good guess that Japan consumes more comics than books. Of course they call them graphic novels now, but they’re still comics. My addiction was in the fourth grade, and while I never liked Superman (I preferred nerdy Clark Kent), I ate up Batman. If my source, a neighbor kid, hadn’t dried up, I might be reading them still.The Automatic Detective is a comic book short of the pictures. That really annoyed me when I read it. Here was the perfect comic book adventure, the bang-up battles, the seven-foot hero, the clichés coming thick but still tongue-in-cheek, and nary a picture but on the cover. True, the cover is lurid enough, but who’s the brunette? Didn’t anyone tell that artist blondes are the classics in detective novels? The author knows. He’s got blondes in the book. Why didn’t someone take that artist aside and explain what a faux pas he made with his brunette? Though he did get the bust correct. And you don’t want to know this cup size. They do make supersized in more than fast food meals.As you might guess, The Automatic Detective is a comic book in prose. The trench coat wearing dick is Mack Megatron, a seven-foot metal bot striving to earn proper citizenship in Empire City. He’s a probational citizen, since he was originally designed by a mad scientist to Ravage and Conquer the World. Having Free Will, however, Mack overcame his blood lust and tries to be good boy (though he still needs therapeutic smashing and bashing sessions). Just a little more good behavior, and he’ll be a full-fledged citizen. If he can just hang on and conquer those urges…But there’s still a need for a bot who likes to smash and bash in Empire City. Mack’s next door neighbors are visited by a thug. Mack tries to intervene, but the frightened family shoo him off. Then Ma, Pa, the little boy and the little girl vanish. But little April is a clairvoyant who gets glimpses of the future. She manages to pass Mack a note. Find us, it says. No self-respecting soft-hearted metal monster could resist such a plea. Soon Mack’s on the lam from his cab driver job, on the hunt for the thug and his killer drone friends. Aliens pop up, and lustful blondes too (though this blonde lusts for Mack’s technology). Mack enlists the aid of his gorilla friend (take gorilla literally here), not to mention a tough but sympathetic cop, and soon the blood, the bits of metal, and the clichés fly. Mack, Savior of the World! He even wins that citizenship.As you tell, this is a light hearted book which doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m not sure there’s a single cliché of the pulp detective genre the author doesn’t take in vain, but it’s intentional fun. Yes, Mack gets a trench coat. Yes, Mack gets the blonde girl (though since he’s metal and she’s flesh and blood, I rather scratch my head over how this romance will work out in the long term). Yes, Mack gets plenty of outlet for his smash and bash. It really should have been in a comic book. But read it for fun, and picture those bright colorful pages as they should be seen─with the little bubbles of dialog hovering by their mouths. Ah, the joy of comic books!

I really liked the ending. The rest of the book was good, but I really liked the end. And as I think about the writing of A. Lee Martinez I find that I have almost always really liked the ending. The ends of his novels are the best parts in my opinion, he does a great job of world building and a great exploration of the story and tells a good story, but undoubtedly I'd have to say that the best parts of all his books are usually the end. This has a great pulpy feel to it, the title detective is a robot that was built for some untold world ending reason by a mad scientist in a world straight out of a 1950s look at the future. There's the flying cars and the 100-foot tall sky scrapers and there's the robot butlers and ray guns and then there is also the darker side of The City Of Tomorrow. The darker underbelly where most of the city lives, where toxic run off has made mutation, if not normal and accepted, at least expected. And the story is good, it just feels sometimes that it's not quite sure if it's trying to be campy or not, that's the feel I got at least. There are moments between the main detective and his talking ape pal that are good, and the scenes with the robot secretary in the detective agency are priceless, totally brilliant comedy, but then there's the harsh reality of one character getting beat to death and another getting his mind erased which are treated in, if not a realistic manner at least a more serious one, which is good since otherwise they'd probably be really creepy scenes.So, overall I liked the book, I thought the characters were well written and well thought out and I think that of all the books by A. Lee Martinez this is the easiest to give a sequel and the one I'd look forward to the most. Wait, no I think I'd rather see a sequel to "Gil's All Fright Diner" because that was a really great comedic horror novel which are hard to find, but this is definetly the second book I'd like to see a sequel for. Also, great ending.

What do You think about The Automatic Detective (2008)?

Being the first adventure of Mack Megaton, Private Eye; The Automatic Detective is a combination of The Maltese Falcon and Iron Man, a wicked blend of hardboiled noir, fantastic sci-fi and cynical humour.Set in the fictional Empire City, Mack is a robot with 'the Freewill Glitch' who's in the process of applying for citizenship. Empire City is home to all kinds of mutations, in addition to Mack the former killing machine gone straight his cab-driving buddy Jung is a monkey and his friend Sanchez the chief of police is furry with a tail. There are still normal biological entities, 'norms', kicking about, Mack's neighbour Julie is one of them but her daughter is psychic and now they've been abducted and Mack is ready to destroy even himself to guarantee their safe return.It's a really interesting world that A. Lee Martinez has built for his novel and a neat concept with plenty of room for development if he chooses to take the popular route to unit shifting and creates an ongoing franchise. Mack is a fun character, his internal conflict between logic and freewill is one ripe with humour and observations of the fallible nature of man, the very nature of his construction leads to some great action sequences of vivid description too. Although there's some obvious and lazy plot developments, a beautiful woman science genius just happens to take an interest in Mack, giving him free upgrades etc. but that's minor quibbling in what was otherwise a thoroughly entertaining read.

What a well-written tale this was! Kept me turning pages.This is the story of Mack Megaton, a sentient robot who was designed for mindless killing and destruction but decides on a much more peaceful way of life after developing "Freewill". So the novel opens with his occupation as a cabdriver. Like any sentient being, he wants to know where he came from, who is is and what he is meant to do: in essence he is the soul in the machine, seeking a purpose, like any human does.Along the way, Mack navigates his way through Empire City, which is Martinez's amalgamation of dozens of sci-fi tropes and noir conventions: like mutants, private detectives, secret aliens, a powerful mob boss, a sexy brilliant blonde, all in a dirty, hazy, grimy city. All in all, this is such a cool setting for a sci-fi-noir where murderous robot enemies lurk around every shadowed corner and your best friend is a talking gorilla with a banana complex.Martinez has a way with words and plows through the plot, which is well planned. You have to ignore some of the convenient setups and twists you may see coming - this is the only aspect of the writing that cost this book the fifth star. The shadows of the conspiracy along with our increasing affection for a stand-up bot like Mack really pulls you through the story, waiting to see whats next. The characters are well written and above all, funny. I keep forgetting how good books have memorable characters that always have a humourous side to them even amidst whatever insanity and carnage may be going in. The descriptions of the various mutants will crack you up.The real star of this book is the city itself and the evocations of classic detective tales in the imagery. If you are a fan of old school classics like Double Indemnity, Maltese Falcon, or Chandler books, then the Automatic Detective would be great for you. It gets even better if you are also a fan of science fiction.This is a great weekend read, and hopefully Martinez will follow-up with the further adventures of this giant robot detective.

Former evil wardroid Mack Megaton discovered he has "The Spark".. or the sense of self-awareness that turns a robot into an "automated citizen" with feelings, a sense of humor, curiosity and sense of self. This revelation causes him to turn on his creator, an evil genius. It is now almost a year later, and Mack Megaton is trying to prove his worth as an "Automated Citizen" of Empire City-- a crazy hodgepodge burg of scientists, corporations, and technology run amok. Mack is having a hard go of it, being on probation by the High Council, a period of observation before he can become a citizen. In the meanwhile, Mack must demonstrate he is a law-abiding peaceful citizen and self-sustaining in his crappy job as a cab driver. Things get complicated for Mack when he is drawn into a mystery that might prove to play a fundamental role in shaping Mack's future. Can Mack hold override his former wardroid programming to keep it together while he solves the mystery?Told from Mack's point of view, Automated Detective is a fun read, albeit not too jaw-droppingly original. The noir dialect is a tad hackneyed in places and the story a tad predictable. However the fresh perspective of seeing life from the robot's vantage point adds much to a standard noir drama. I recommend this book. It does not break new ground, but it is pleasant, engrossing and quite funny in places.After having finished it.. I will stick with my four stars. Automatic Detective was a pleasant junk food read, the ending was no great twist, but I liked the noir stylings. Clearly, this book was a set up for a sequel, which wouldn't be a bad thing-- the setting is quite good and the characters fairly interesting. Martinez may want to venture out of Mack's mechanical head from time to time and see what can be seen in some of the other citizens of Empire City. I liked the supporting cast quite a bit, and would like to see more of them.H.

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