A futuristic thriller that mixes science fiction, world politics, and gobs of action.
In an unspecified future, America polices the world, deploying robots—Tin Men—to quell civil wars, “defuse the world’s hot spots,” make the globe safe for democracy, and get resented for it. The U.S. Army Remote Infantry Corps operates out of an underground base known as The Hump in Wiesbaden, Germany, where military personnel climb into “metal coffins” for eight-hour shifts to mind-meld with armed robots that operate in remote trouble spots such as Syria, where much of the novel takes place. The robots are tough but not invulnerable, as mercenary Bot Killers sometimes demonstrate. Bad guy Hanif Khan decides he must not only destroy the Tin Men, but kill specific talented operators such as Pvt. Danny Kelso. Then a worldwide electromagnetic pulse from an unknown source devastates most of the Earth’s technology, although the Tin Men continue to function. “The world isn’t ending,” one character claims. “It’s already over.” Human society is in mortal danger, but the Tin Men have a chance to save it. Readers will never be far from the nearly nonstop mayhem that pervades the story, yet the rage against the machines often feels unaffecting. Arms get blown off, faces charred, eyes put out, yet the Tin Men soldier on unless they are reduced to shrapnel. Meanwhile, the lives of real humans—good guys, the people readers are expected to care about—are at stake: presidents Matheson of the U.S. and Rostov of Russia, along with American enlistees. Don’t look too closely at the logic behind the technology or the logistics, and imagine that you’re reading an extended comic book without the pictures. In fact, the author writes comic books, and his style shows it.
An enjoyable and almost plausible peek into a future world under American protection.