I hate elevator pitches, I don’t care how easy they are to sell, but lo how the mighty have fallen–
I read both books in Neuvel’s Themis Files series back to back in two days and the premise is somewhere between Harry Bates’ short story “Farewell to the Master” (better known as the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still) and H.G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds, with a pinch of Star Wars thrown in for flavoring.
Earth, present day, little girl falls through a hole and lands on a gigantic hand not made of this earth. Years later as a scientist she is put in charge of finding the rest of the pieces of the big robot, putting it together and figuring out how to make it run. Ten years later another robot appears to vaporize half of London, and the year after that more appear in the most populated cities on Earth and start killing people 99.95 percent of the population at a time. What do they want? How to stop them? A lot of people die before they figure anything out, some of whom you will greatly mourn.
The books are epistolary, sort of, told in transcripts of recorded conversations, emails and personal journals. The style can get a little tedious but there are some voices that will really make you perk up, like badass helo pilot Kara Resnik, crazy ass geneticist Alyssa Papantoniou, and (ultimately) kick ass linguist Vincent Couture. Neuvel has taken the lesson of Saturday serials to heart because both books end on excellent cliff hangers. Fun read.
And, spoiler alert***
1. Just one time I wanted to hear Vincent holler “Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!” Never know, mighta worked.
2. For those of you who have not read the short story, they dumbed down the ending in the movie (and for heaven’s sake, watch the Michael Rennie/Patricia Neal original, not the ghastly Keanu Reeves remake, gah). In Bates’ story as originally written? The robots were the boss, not man. It made for a helluva punchline. Pretty sure Neuvel is familiar with both, and that these books are his sort of sequel to the story. I mean, come on, look at the titles.