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Book Review: Roboteer

Roboteer by Alex Lamb

The starship Ariel is on a mission of the utmost secrecy, upon which the fate of thousands of lives depend. Though the ship is a mile long, its six crew are crammed into a space barely large enough for them to stand. Five are officers, geniuses in their field. The other is Will Kuno-Monet, the man responsible for single-handedly running a ship comprised of the most dangerous and delicate technology that mankind has ever devised. He is the Roboteer.

Will is a man bred to interface with the robots that his home-world Galatea desperately needs to survive. He finds himself sent behind enemy lines to discover the secret of their newest weapon. What he discovers will transform their understanding of both science and civilization forever... but at a cost.

Not so long ago I read a very daring Science Fiction story that was also published by Gollancz, Crashing Heaven from Al Robertson, which I loved. Science Fiction is a genre where lots of things can and are explored. An aspect where Alex Lamb doesn't shy away from as well. Roboteer well what more is there to say than that it is a heavy contender for getting on the best of Science Fiction list for 2015. Roboteer is daring, it is engaging and has just a lot of cool concepts working in very well. A truly stellar debut. Gollancz is on the right track when it comes to publishing SF, already two very solid titles under its belt!

In Roboteer you follow the main protagonist, Will Kuno-Monet. When I read the first sentence of the book I was like: What!? Then I read it again and I was like: What? Then I decided to continue and it all started to make sense. This first sentence alone triggered my curiosity, nicely done. Here you learn that Will is a Roboteer, a Roboteer has the gift to interact and control machines, from drones to big robots etc. how cool is that! Will is a Galatean, humans who fled the Earth to some very hostile places in the universe and resorted to genetic engineering to make sure that they had any chance to survive. Earth is still inhabited by people who see themselves as normal and where the Galateans are seen to as filth, they have a mission and that is to wipe the Galateans of the Earth. For a long time this was has gone on already, though the Galateans are far more superior in their technology, the Earthers have strenght in numbers which make gaining the upperhand a tough job. During a mission Will learns that the Earthers have a piece of technology that is far stronger than what they had been able to design over the last years, and he learns that it will, not could, but it will end the war in favor for the Earthers. They now both have strength in number and the technology. Will gets drafted onto a special Galatean spaceship with other elite memberst to find a way to make sure the Earthers technology doesn't see the light of day. A race is on to stop the Earthers, a dangerous race where Will discovers some amazing secrets of the universe that could just make the fight in their favor... could just. 

I am mightly impressed with the story that Alex Lamb has put down in Roboteer and the more I think about it the more I start to like the story and premise that he has created. The story is divided into multiple perspectives that of Will, Ira the commander of the Ariel and that of the religion Earthers, General Gustav. The executing of these perspectives is very well done, the perspectives are mostly personal scenes that you read and this added a very nice depth, pacing and forces you to find out what happens next. And as I always say when you see all the sides of a story, the dynamic is high, since you see each side plotting and thinking about their next strategy. Alex Lamb has a very engaging writing style, directly to the point, without a sacrifice of showing how big his universe truly is, the sense of wonder is easily achieved. 

When it comes down to the characters. The main protagonist Will is mostly in the picture, it is his adventure. What makes Will a lovable character is the background that Alex Lamb has created behind his character, it is extensive and it comes to show that Will hasn't had the best of youths possible. In his current situation its also not for the better, when he steps on board the Ariel, he is facing another rough time. With all this happening to Will's character I really started to feel for him, he just wants to be accepted for what he does. Because what he does, is remarkable and his crew should thank him for what he can do to be honest. From the rough start up until the end of the book there is nice development in Will's character as he becomes more and more resolute and starts to shine. The secondary characters in the book, like Will's other crew members and the prophets each contribute to the storyline and readily help to make it go forward, I liked the characters don't get me wrong, they had their own quirky habits and personalities but in the end I kind off missed that little bit extra that would have made them really stand out and also connect with them more.  
As I mentioned above, Science Fiction is the genre to show technology, and here Alex Lamb is no stranger. There are many different forms of it, from the genetic engineering side and what the Galateans are all capable off, down to the sun-tech part and the spaceships. It's just awesome and the way that Alex Lamb explains the things, it isn't high tech at all, it feels like every day technology, you don't have to have a PhD in science to understand. In the end its just awesome. Again I have to stress the part of Will and his being a Roboteer and all that he is capable of, just frickin awesome. I want to be able to do that! Added to this comes a very nice world building. There is great diversity in where it takes place, in outer space in the Ariel and scenes back on Earth with the Earthers prophet. What cannot be missed in such a Space Opera is of course a higher entity then the human. Oops did I say to much? 

Alex Lamb's debut, Roboteer is hands down an awesome debut. Science FIction is a saturated genre but Roboteer breaks through it and, well smashes through with is with some very cool new ideas. Alex Lamb knows how to write a cool and engaging story. From the big picture of world building down to the critical features of mechanisms that make it twist and turn, the technology, and most importantly the characters, everything is shows until into the fine detail. I am looking forward to reading more of Alex Lamb's books, if this is just the start, hang on to your hats!


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