Monday, June 05, 2017

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/2

Hey! It's another of those I-only-got-one-book weeks, which is good for me since I just wasted most of the last hour reading old Antick Musings posts. (Do real writers do that, too? Start poking through your old work and think what a smart, thoughtful person that guy was? It's not one of my more impressive personality traits, I can tell you.)

Anyway, this week I got one book in the mail, which means it must be totally awesome and you all will utterly love it.

That book is Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom, by Bradley W. Schenck, a pseudo-retro-futuro SF novel in the Gernsback vein, with lots of illustrations (looks like they're digitally painted, presented in black and white) by the author.

It's billed as "A Note of Retropolis," though not the Retropolis that's a historical blog from the Washington Post. Or the album by The Flower Kings from the mid-90s. Or the blog about vanished American pop-culture stuff. Or the collection of classic movie-influenced art by Laurent Durieux. Or the newer album by Absinth3. Or some kind of music store/producer/publisher/distributor/festival-maker/whatever. Or the vintage clothing store in Houston.

I note all that because the author's bio on the back flap says he can be found online at Webomator and Retropolis, and those above are many of the links on page one and two of Google for "Retropolis." (Luckily, the Amazon page for this book comes in eighth of the nine links on the first page.) If you're going to use a term commercially, you need to investigate how search-friendly your usage of it is.

The good news is that Schenck clearly knows this, and owns Webomator -- he's the #1 link for that term, which has this book prominently featured. Thus endeth the impromptu marketing lesson.

Slaves seems to have grown out of a fictional world Schenck has been writing about for a while, though this seems to be the first novel-length work. (There could be short stories, or odder things.) It's a pulpy SF world, with shiny humanoform robots, goggles, giant machines, glowy tubes, and the other usual accoutrements of that Buck Rogers stuff.

And, yes, the plot is about a fiendish scheme that begins by laying off all of the switchboard operators in the city of Retropolis --- though, of course, said fiendish scheme extends much, much farther than that. But there are mightily-thewed heroes in bubble helmets to battle it, along with their plucky robot companions and wise-cracking gum-chewing newly-unemployed switchboard gals to assist. So I'm sure it will all come out right in the end.

Slaves is a hardcover from Tor, available June 13th. Rocket off to your local Vend-O-Rama to get it!

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