REVIEW: Battle Beyond the Dolestars by Chris McCrudden
Time for the Machine Republic to Kurl Up and Dye
It’s a year since the Battlestar Suburbia broke free from Earth and the human rebellion is hiding out in the asteroid belt. Their leader, Admiral Janice, is assembling a fleet she hopes can topple robot rule – except on Wednesday afternoons when she can do you a half head of highlights for 30 quid.
Janice has given Darren, now the reluctant captain of the teenage starship Polari, a critical mission, to open up a path back to Earth by bombing the Martian Gap Services. But when it goes wrong and Darren and his crew are chased deep into the solar system, Janice has only one hope left, back on Earth.
Here, sentient breadmaker Pamasonic Teffal is resisting the human–machine war the best way she knows how: by running for office. Until a distress signal from Janice persuades her to get her turbo-charged alter ego Pam Van Damme out of mothballs, that is…
Can Pam save the solar system and rescue Kelly from the clutches of her nemesis, the crazed smartphone-turned-cyborg, Sonny Erikzon?
Dear Mr. McCrudden,
Last year I was entertained by the wildness that is “Battlestar Suburbia.” Yes it’s dystopian and a genre I don’t usually read but it has enough humor and inventiveness that it worked, more or less, for me. But given that it ended on a cliff-hanger with some of our characters in dire danger, I hoped that there would be a sequel to come. It worked for me as a humorous story rather than as any grand space opera but it definitely doesn’t stand on its own.
It’s ten millennia into the future and artificial intelligence has entered every machine. Almost as soon as this happened, machines arose in rebellion against the humans who had created them and quickly turned the “fleshies” into little more than a cleaning crew, there only to serve their robot masters. With mops and cleaning supplies. But by the end of the first book, a rebellion had started.
Now it’s a year later and the rag tag band of humans on one of the satellites to which they’d been banished by the machines continues to fight back. A careful plan is enacted but just when the humans are celebrating, everything goes to shit. Their only spaceship veers off into the solar system, their plans appear to have been hijacked, the machines on Earth – who haven’t had cleaners in a year and are now being buried in dust bunny filth – want humans annihilated, Kelly’s body is still being inhabited by the power mad smart phone Sonny, billions of nanobots are about to be let loose with consequences no one realizes, and human survival might depend on ancient Internet LOLcats.
Yes! I was hoping the cat on the cover would actually be a part of the story and Schrodinger comes through. It turned out to be a good thing for me that I’d just recently read “The Cat in the Box” and already know a little about particle accelerators. However I would never have thought to kick start the process by the means that Darren uses.
Once again sturdy bread maker Pam Teffal and her femme fatale sidekick Pam Van Damme have to try and prevent a machine meltdown but this time also stop Sonny from destroying the Machine Republic. Oh and see if they can separate Sonny from his unwilling “fleshie” hostage. I do wish that there had been a bit more of Kelly but smart mouthed Rita, who is now part of a couple with Kelly’s mom Janice, was a nice addition as well as Danny who has plans for an exfoliating empire of face products and treatments.
Even though I thought I remembered much of what happened in the first book, having this one start off with minimal background made it a rocky start getting back up to speed. The character development is inventive and good though it’s sometimes hard to imagine the machines being able to move as described. There are several plot threads that are woven together and must be kept track of as well as some subtle references to the state of world affairs in our present day. I followed the twists and turns fairly well until near the end of the story when I got a tad lost in the complicated plot but I enjoyed seeing everything tied together and finished off. Plus the cats – loved the LOLcats. B-