One of the things I've been told recently, is that if you want to become a better writer, you either have to write more or read more. In my “By the Book” installments, I will be sharing which books I have been reading, what I absorbed from them as a reader and how I plan to use what I learned as a writer.
You know a book is good when you’re sad the story is over. This is the case with the latest book I just finished reading; The Automatic Detective, by author A. Lee Martinez.
While discussing one of my ideas for a story involving an android detective, a fellow writer of mine brought this book to my attention and suggested I take a look at it. I am really glad he did, because I was pleasantly surprised!
The novel tells the tale of a tough-as-nails private eye named Mack Megaton. The storyline plays out from Mack’s perspective; a wisecracking robot cabdriver that gets sucked into a “Noire” themed mystery taking place in a bright, retro-futuristic setting. The story also has a colorful supporting cast which includes everything from normal humans to mutants mob bosses.
Back of the Book:
"Even in Empire City, a town where weird science is the hope for tomorrow, it’s hard for a robot to make his way. It’s even harder for a robot designed to bring mankind to its knees, but Mack Megaton’s not interested in world domination. He’s just a bot trying to prove that he isn’t just an automated smashing machine and earn his citizenship. But some bots just can’t catch a break.
When Mack’s neighbors are kidnapped, Mack sets off on a journey through the dark alleys and gleaming skyscrapers of Empire City. Along the way, he runs afoul of a brainy dame, and a little green mob boss - not to mention more trouble than he bargained for. What started out as one missing family becomes a battle for the future of Empire and every citizen that calls her home."
For those interested in learning more about A. Lee Martinez, you can find more information, as well as a list of his published works, at the following website:
What I have learned from this book:
- Does not compute! As I mentioned earlier, the entire book is written from a robot's perspective. The Author did an awesome job accentuating the differences between the ideologies of mechanical beings and those of biological life forms. Seeing the world from the cold logic of a robot, while making it humorous and entertaining, is definitely a refreshing change from the norm. Furthermore, the Author successfully showed Mack gradually changing from aloof and self-centered to compassionate. The overall change is slow but very noticeable and well done. Creating characters with interesting personalities and original backgrounds is an important part of creating any story (which I will discuss further in another post!). Mister Martinez has inspired me, and I plan on using what I have absorbed here to help in the creation of my own robotic characters.
- Balancing act. Merging themes is always a good way of taking one type of story, and adding a different flavour to it. Popular examples are taking something like a horror story and adding mystery to it, or a romance story and adding comedic elements. But in the case of the Automatic Detective, A. Lee Martinez managed to merge two very different themes that readers usually would not expect to see together. The Author did an excellent job of taking the dark and gritty “Noire” mystery and contrasting it against the bright and hopeful retro-futuristic world. I plan on learning from mister Martinez innovative idea, and try to think outside the box when thinking up stories.
In closing, I wanted to thank my good friend John for suggesting this book to me, and my lovely wife Linda for gifting the book to me.
Until next time.