Drones by Rob J Hayes

8/10 All-around great, short sci-fi cyberpunk... A noirish, high-tech-but-not-too-high-tech vision of the future,

All-around great, short sci-fi cyberpunk. Mr. Hayes took a little break from grimdark fantasy to satisfy his muse, and the result is a dark, intimate, and relevant story about a man who'd rather feel nothing than his own emotions. I really enjoyed it and tore through in a couple days.

A noirish, high-tech-but-not-too-high-tech vision of the future, where mankind has colonized the moon and buy and sell emotions like drugs. I'm not a big sci-fi fan, but I found this very accessible and didn't roll my eyes once. The setting here is the backdrop and not the point. It lets us play with the possible while the characters strut their stuff, and the plot intrudes. Everything came across as believable and realistic without being forced.

Our 'hero' is a drone. His past haunts him, and now he earns a living experiencing emotional highs and selling them off, in an ever-more dangerous escalation of addictive behavior. But what happens if he loses his fix...and what if everyone was like Garrick... I think the plot basically just worked. It's quick, it's interesting, and fun to read.

James Garrick, aka Robot, is much akin to the cynical detective narrating his descent through the filth of a corrupt society. In fact I was waiting for him to bust out a cigarette on many occasions, and kind of felt disappointed he didn't. Your like or dislike of Mr. Garrick may depend on your own level of cynicism, but I found him interesting in any case and a worthy teller of a fast, brutal tale. Through his eyes we see corrupt corporate executives, terrorist/freedom-fighters, gangsters, addicts, and one rather scary assassin.

This was my first experience with the author, and I quite liked the style. I started to think of it as 'Pierce Brown writes grimdark'. Sentences are often short, visceral, and emotional. Description gets to the point, and twists it. A great style for the genre.

Final Thoughts
This story was an excellent introduction to the writer, and I'd now comfortably buy any of his other work. Writing in multiple genres isn't so easy as one thinks, and even as a tentative dabbler in sci-fi I found this readable and well done. Thanks very much to the author for the read.

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