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The adventures of Roderick Wood
on 10 May 2014
This is a marvelous story of simultaneous and converging conspiracies and chance events, the origin, life and fate of Roderick Wood, robot, being the central theme running throughout.
The story is very much dialogue driven, with character development and interaction taking precidence over, I felt, plotlines, world building etc. but this creates a fantastic pace and lends real page turning impetus to the progress of the storyline. In some ways I was disappointed with the finish, it seemed to end a little abruptly considering how the story had progressed to that point but it did feature solid conclusions for each of the characters which had been introduced throughout, this is the case with both of the books which make up this single volume.
The book answers many of the questions which have haunted science fiction about why the hoped for "tommorrow" never arrived, doing so well through the dialogue and sequencing of chance events and accidents but also providing summation points which allow a kind of "recap" or "clarification" of the suspiscions anyone would have from reading up to that point. I liked this because between times the reader is allowed to do their own thinking and figure out what is happening but isnt left wondering entirely as to what was happening. There isnt really any surplus content but there are points at which you may be tempted to skip blocks of dialogue from parties or other scenes in which people are talking about intellectual diversions or academic subjects.
Roderick himself is "born" as a consequence of a scam ran by a high ranking government official who has been misappropriating funds, the resulting cover up succeeds in covering up his existence for a time too, although attempts to destroy him and others involved in his development are bungled repeatedly or ruined by chance and accident. This introduces the theme of conspiracy and technological repression, there's good consideration of no matter how powerful and sophisticated a conspiracy may be that it is still subject to chance, caprice and the individual prejudice or accident effecting key players in its operation. Roderick himself develops and investigates the human condition throughout the book, appearing as the most human of all most of the time, discovers just what has happened and how his has benefited from the competition and conflict between government and private corporations, both equally reprehensible, amoral and pursuing their ends with murderous singularity of purpose.
This is a very good book, a real page turner, with characters you are likely to remember for a long time, I would consider it optimistic sci fi of a sort, despite the overwhelming alienation, perfidious plotting etc. and being in many ways dystopian until the conclusion its main protagonist shows what a life is worth and what can be made of life despite its difficulties.