I was sent a review copy of The Automation shortly after I reviewed The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson. I have to admit I was hesitant from the start. Perhaps it was the fact that the true author remains anonymous while crediting the fictional BLA as narrator and GB Gabbler as editor. Perhaps it was the fact that it smacks of self publication. While I’ve enjoyed some worthy self published books, such as the Silo series by Hugh Howey and The Carrion Vine by Erane Elizabeth Scully, I’ve also trudged through several that were desperately in need of a professional editor.
Despite my hesitations, the premise of The Automation intrigued me enough that I gave it a go. The Automatons in the story aren’t clockwork creations, but rather beings created by the god Vulcan. They are essentially immortal, each one bonding to a single human for as long as that person lives, bestowing certain strengths upon the human through a telepathic bond. The book started off strong, with a dramatic scene that effectively captured my attention. Unfortunately, it slowly disintegrated from there.
While I developed some appreciation for the plot, the characters, and the humor of the book, I had a difficult time getting past the narrative style of the story being told through both a narrator and an annotator. There were so many diversions, droning on in the middle of a scene that might otherwise move quite smoothly without the copious footnotes, often stating the obvious for the reader (i.e. telling rather than showing). After pages upon pages of footnotes, it started to feel overly pedantic and, I might even go so far as to say, arrogant.
Now, it’s not my objective to teach you life’s elementary paradoxes, but someone needs to break it down for you: out of so many options, Fate’s brought us together. You chose this book, yes. But why?
Your eyes follow each line accordingly. You might even turn the page — if I’m entertaining enough. Yes, yes, the gods took care of everything for me. I didn’t even have to try.
And of course the gods would help. this story’s too much fun for them — my irreverent comments included. Of course they’d let this story happen. They allowed you to notice this book and, for some reason, They allowed me to write it. This was Their plan all along — even the prose format and Gabbler’s footnotes and this brazenly-inserted preface.
Despite these shortcomings, the overall plot was quite unique and entertaining. The dry humor added to the story, and it at least demonstrated an attempt at staying somewhat tongue-in-cheek. If you can get past the writing style, the storyline and characters are worth a look. At only $.99 on Kindle, you can hardly go wrong giving it a try.