BOOK REVIEW: The Roboteer by Alex Lamb

roboteer book cover

Title: The Roboteer

Author: Alex Lamb

Publisher: Gollancz

Published: 2016

RRP: 8.99

Humanity has been upgraded and has spread to the stars, upgraded with technology and genetic modification. For the billions left on Earth, those who have tampered with the human form are heretics. And so the unequal war began. But Earth has deployed a devastating new weapon and so one outworlder ship and their new Roboteer are sent on what seems to be a suicide mission to discover the origins of this new threat. What they find will change the universe and the human race, for ever.

This is a brilliantly conceived book in which humans have gone beyond virtual reality and remote control and now some have been modified to become one with machines. Not only that but to ‘feel’ a semi conscious emotional connection with each weapon. Using technology they have created space in their minds to escape into the universe with the machines as they travel and destroy enemies in space. The human and machine symbiosis is both adored by those who possess it and feared by those who can’t understand it.

The action in this story is relentless. The humans are fighting amongst themselves. The Earthers who remain purists fundamentally disagree with the way that the Galateans have modified themselves and of course, as is the nature of humanity, this means war. The fight sequences in space are superb and the Robotoeers who  are so intimately linked to their machines make the fighting not only thrilling but an absurd emotional experience as the machines alongside them seem to seek the thrill of victory and destruction. The line between humanity and robot is almost completely blurred. Indeed the feeling of bereavement a Roboteer feels when disconnected from the technology during one segment of the book is total.

Will,  the main protagonist, finds himself planted into a new team and ship when he discovers an alien race who pick him, due to his unique ability to programme and work with machines, to represent his race. They have offered him and the rival Earthers the key to a devastating weapon which, depending on how they interact with this knowledge, could seal the fate of humanity.

Roboteer is a great book that is cunning and beguiling in its writing. However, there is not enough detail given on the societies, their values or even the basic weaponry they us. The continuous distraction of new ideas, quickly written programmes and semi-described weapons, which are vital to understand due to the relationship with the Roboteer, makes this book  a difficult read. The writer has great ambitions for the visuals in the book but by failing to integrate the reader into the universe means that while the story is satisfying the reader could be left never feeling fully immersed. Even the addition of some diagrams and perhaps a brief history in a prologue would help the reader since so much complexity exists within the book.

I recommend Roboteer with the caveat that the more technically minded readers  might enjoy it more.

Rating: 3.5 /5

Reviewer: The Aviator

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