Made To Kill by Adam Christopher

Rating 8.8/10
A Raymond Chandler sci-fi story.

Book of the Month

If ever there was a literary success story of 2015, it was Adam Christopher. Having had an idea for a novelette, the result of an interview he did with Tor.com, little did he know that answering one of the questions would lead him to write said novelette which would in turn end up being a series of three novels, Made to Kill being the first.

Will Staehle's cover art is a reminder of the pulpy 60's detective novels and sci-fi robots they would write about. With its limited cover palette of red, green and yellow, it isn't to be missed, but the robot detective look a bit too stiff and mechanical when he is actually a fun character. What Christopher secretly wanted to write about was a Raymond Chandler sci-fi story. We all know it would never exist as Chandler historically made references to hating the genre, but that did not stop Christopher from having the idea in the first place and making it known to Tor who later published it.

Ray Electromatic and his boss Ada have the best work relationship that's normal to humans, yet Ray has enough human traits of his own. Ray's importance isn't relevant until he recalls ten years ago machines were made to take the pressure off of humans whose jobs were less than safe. Hailed as an amazing breakthrough in technology, it should have worked out, but the human workforce resented the ones who made the robots. The old robots ended up being scrapped and a new class of robots replaced them, made to be more human, one of the many robots who were ridiculed, robophobia is the term used here.

Ray isn't supposed to take a case from clients straight off the street, but when a female client enters and asks if he would find a missing actor, Charles David - then kill him. Ray would have normally rejected the offer as Ada is the one who arranges his client list, but as she has the cash, and he's made to kill, he can't really refuse. Since he's been paid to do a job, Ray gets onto finding the guy, but he does prove elusive, even for him. Tracking him down to various places and Hollywood with Ada's help and the aid of passing humans isn't his idea of helpful, but it does intrigue him as much as it does realising some parts of LA look real good these days.

Charles David is a tricky guy to get to and Ray has a few good leads, the possibility of finding him at a club called The Temple where anyone who is a star will go to look at dancing girls who dress like peacocks. It is exclusive and Ray doesn't understand why not everyone can get in! As far as Christopher is concerned, the story is more about Ray, how he comes across to everyone who meets him and the finding of the elusive Charles David. A bit like Waiting for Godot, tis also about how Ray discovers what the public really wants to know rather than what is put in the media, and the limited cast of characters gives it a more stylish feel. Adam Christopher's Made to Kill has all the pulpy drama you would expect and namedropped characters from novels and Christopher's sense of humour in a comical sci-fi novel.

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