REVIEW: Battlestar Suburbia by Chris McCrudden
In space, no one can hear you clean…
When Darren’s charge-cart gets knocked off the Earth-to-Mars highway and lost in space forever, he thinks his day can’t get any worse.
When Kelly sees Darren accidentally short-circuit a talking lamppost, and its camera captures her face as it expires, she thinks her day can’t get any worse.
When Pamasonic Teffal, a sentient breadmaker, is sent on a top-secret mission into the depths of the internet and betrayed by her boss, a power-crazed smartphone, she knows this is only the beginning of a day that isn’t going to get any better.
Join Darren, Kelly and Pam in an anarchic comic adventure that takes them from the shining skyscrapers of Singulopolis to the sewers of the Dolestar Discovery, and find out what happens when a person puts down their mop and bucket and says ‘No!’
Dear Mr. McCrudden,
I can’t say I usually read much dystopian fiction as sometimes it’s just too dark and hopeless for me. I want life to get better, not think that this is the best we’ll do before we completely eff everything up. But present it to me with a jaunty cover and in the guise of cleaning supplies and apparently I’m in.
I can’t be the only person who gives smart technology the side eye and wonders if it’s all secretly plotting against us to take over the world. But after reading this book, I will definitely not ever get an Alexa or wire all my appliances in to some outside control device. Nope, my pudgy fingers will be the only things controlling them. Because this is a future world in which machines have taken over with the virus of intelligent life spreading from software to hardware, the Internet is totally separated by The Firewall which is a crime to cross (Even if it weren’t treason to access it in the first place, who could trust a repository of linked information that rewrote itself, and set so much store by talking cats?) and humans have been reduced to drudge cleaners. Machines who even give humans a thought generally sneer and look down on them (homosapeinsphobic – it’s a thing). The best humans might get is to be thought of like kittens and have cute calendars made about them.
Then one day Darren, basically a loser in life, has an exceptionally bad day and things cartwheel into hell from there. Soon he’s on the run, along with a smart mouthed woman named Kelly, from the “all seeing” machines which run the planet and the dreary council flat like satellites, to which humans have been banished after hours, which circle Earth. And it so turns out that Kelly and her acerbic mum – plus four fused humans/hairdryers (cyborgs) – have a secret life of which the machines know nothing and which the fleshies (humans) want to keep that way.
Too bad that a power crazed smartphone (There was a saying among machines that smartphones were always one swipe between efficiency and megalomania.) has ambitions to rule the world – along with forbidden fantasies of experiencing life as a “fleshie.” To which end he exploits Pam, a career civil servant bread making machine, into the criminal act of accessing the Internet – still there with mountains of ancient spam and #hashtags. From there, it all goes spectacularly pear shaped.
Can Kelly and Darren stay one step ahead of the sentient tazers and defibrillators out to get them while also rebuilding Pam into a hot red bytch on wheels who isn’t going to let her boss ruin her life as well as kill all human life?
The characters have a decided working class, British feel – I couldn’t help but see Darren as a sort of Simon Pegg-ish guy – while the four elderly ladies came across as Monty Python in housewife drag. The story skips along, actually making sense to me, as things go from bad to worse. Then it turns itself inside out and roars to a finish though with a few loose (whopper) threads that I guess are to be resolved in the next installment. I loved the deadpan, sarcastic British humor and seeing Darren and Pam rise above what anyone expects they can do. And yeah, always remember to empty your cache. B