Artificial intelligence fascinates me, sometimes morbidly so but I still find it fascinating. As soon as I saw that the publisher compared Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno to Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which formed the basis for the film Blade Runner, I was hooked and knew I had to read it. Now I know quite well that publishers’ comparisons can often be a stretch but, in this case, it’s dead-on. This novel has the same gritty feel to it and shares the same type of dark futuristic view – off-planet as well as on-planet. Let’s just say that I was pleasantly surprised by both the story and the characters. Think it might be something you’d find interesting? Let’s find out…
Malcolm Graves has been a freelance Collector for thirty years and has not survived in that bounty hunter role by being sloppy. He has two cardinal rules that he follows: 1), just do the job; and 2), make sure you get paid. Then there’s his sub-rule: don’t get sucked in or involved – just get it done. In those thirty years, he’s chased his quarry all over the galaxy and been called upon to squelch rebellions in countless sectors. He always does what he’s told, no matter what, and leaves it to others to sort out the ethical questions. That ability to detach from his job is just one of the things that makes him so successful.
His personal life is his own, even if it hasn’t gone all that well. He used to bring his daughter on jobs with him, to train her so she could have a lucrative and steady career. He still thinks it was the right thing to do. Most people now just struggle to survive, no matter which planet they live on. Being a Collector gives you freedom and at least assures that you’ll survive if you do a good job. He was proud of the way she picked up the skills needed to do the job. But then she got older and wanted to strike out on her own. It’s been a long time since they’ve spoken and he has no idea where she is or what she’s doing. He can only hope she’s happy and still alive, although it saddens him to have lost their close connection – the only close connection he had. Now his job is just a job again…oh well.
Speaking of the job, Malcolm has just gotten new marching orders. One of his client corporations is outraged at an explosion on Earth that should never have happened. It’s put the company at risk and Malcolm is tasked with discovering not only who was behind it but stopping them in their tracks before they can do further damage.
Unfortunately, that’s not all – the corporation has decided he needs a partner on this job and they’ve assigned him someone he never would have picked – an android. Talk about cramping your style…there’s nothing like a statistics quoting bean counter android to make you want to tear your hair out or worse. Still, it is what it is and Malcolm is stuck with him so he’ll just have to find a way to work around him or at least tolerate him until he can offload him somehow.
The trail of breadcrumbs they follow lead them to Titan, a Saturn moon the corporation uses for mining valuable ore. Humans colonized Titan a long time ago but, like humans on a lot of far-flung corporate-run colonies, they and their labor have been exploited. To say their living conditions are horrific would be an understatement. Let’s just say human miner life expectancy on Titan is pretty low.
If Malcom didn’t follow his cardinal job rule, he’d probably sympathize with the miners; however, his job is to find the dissidents and put down the revolt that’s fermenting on Titan. His boss has given him carte blanche to do whatever needs to be done to make that happen – and I do mean anything.
There’s nothing to be done but to try to infiltrate the dissident mining factions, a prospect that statistically isn’t very promising for Malcolm’s life expectancy but a job’s a job and he never lets a client down. Unfortunately, he hasn’t counted on finding the one person in Titan’s mining complex who he never expected to find – his daughter. Well, crap, there’s goes his carefully constructed objectivity. Now what?
Being who Malcolm is, he had no option but to raise a daughter who’s every bit as stubborn, determined, persistent, and whip-smart as he is. Talk about karma. LOL And his android partner is a hoot…a good counter-balance personality for him. Corporations as villains is not a new thing. This time there is a personality behind the corporate façade that gives us someone to jeer at – a person who sees humans purely as a means to an end. There have been people like that throughout history who somehow gain power periodically, which proves to be extremely detrimental to all of humanity. It makes me sad that we never seem to learn from history because those people would never gain power if we did. (end of soapbox)
Rhett C. Bruno has written a non-stop sci-fi thriller in Titanborn that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope it will have a follow-up novel because I’d love to see several of the central characters explored further. If you’re looking for a bargain summer e-read that takes you all over the galaxy, I think this one will fit the bill!
Can’t wait to read it? Titanborn is being published on June 21, 2016 and is available only as an e-book from your favorite online bookseller. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can always download a free e-reader app for your cellphone or read it on your computer. And, it’s a real bargain so enjoy!
I’d love to get your comments on Titanborn, Rhett C. Bruno and/or his other work, and/or this review!