Genre: Science Fiction — Pulp
Series: Possibility of One
Publisher: Tor Books (June 13, 2017)
Length: 352 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom surprised me, startled me even, because it was so damn much fun! A word I seldom use when referring to modern science fiction; a genre which seems to take itself too damn seriously most of the time. But, thankfully, Bradley W. Schenck has turned back the hands of the literary clock and gifted fans of fast-paced, hilarious, lavishly illustrated, and optimistic sci fi with his mesmerizing “World of Tomorrow” with its heroic heroes, ray-guns, robots, crazy scientists, rocket cars, and automated sidewalks.
The dashing lead of this tale is Kelvin “Dash” Kent who spends most of his time traveling about the earth and moon fighting bad guys, righting wrongs, and helping the helpless. And, here, he finds himself hired by a group of switchboard operators led by the sharp-as-a-tack Lola Gardner. Dash’s job is simple: uncover the dastardly plot to deprive Retropolis of its InfoSlate operators and thereby throw the whole information access system into chaos, letting some vile villain do something . . . evil. Or, at least, all this is what Lola suspects Dash will find once he starts his investigation.
Joining our dynamic duo in this retro romp are several other point-of-view characters. Howard Pitt, civil engineer, is the mysterious, scientific genius, who is definitely up to no good, though no one really knows for sure what kind of no good he is up to. Abner Perkins, transportation officer, is the out-of-his depths guy who finds himself hot on the trail of the supposed villain. And, finally, there is automaton Rusty, who begins to investigate the origins of a strange, legless robot, specifically who create him and why.
Slowly but surely, all these people and their separate investigations begin to intertwine, leading our heroes toward a shadowy conspiracy. A grave threat materializing, one which isn’t at all expected.
I have to admit being a lover of pulp sci fi. Buck Rogers. Flash Gordon. John Carter. Name all the usually names, and I’ve probably loved them at some point in my life. What always drew me to their stories was the sheer enjoyment and optimistic outlook they all had at their hearts. Maybe, their science wasn’t completely accurate; perhaps the sensibilities were old fashioned; but they thrilled you, inspired you, and made you happy you invested your precious time reading them. And, now, I can add Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom to that list of ridiculously fun pulp sci fi reads.
From the futuristic city of Retropolis with its pristine parks, cleaning robots, tube transportation, and automated skywalks, this world looks and feels like a Jetson-like dream of a wonderful future. The heroes are heroic, and the villains are vile, but you always feel certain that your favorites will find a way to triumph over all the odds and survive to make the world a better place. The plot is twisty, filled with more than a few surprises, has laughs along the way, and keeps you turning the pages until the end.
Does that mean this is a perfect book? Nope, because there is no such thing, and Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom isn’t the only exception. Personally, I felt there were sections of the story where the pacing lagged a little too much, as well as there being too many switches between pov characters. Hell, even the silliness was a bit too over-the-top at times. But none of these issues ruined the sheer enjoyment of the narrative for me.
In conclusion, this novel by Bradley W. Schenck is a hilarious, retro romp that all lovers of pulp sci fi classics of the past should definitely find time to sample. Its illustrations are beautiful, adding immensely to the reading experiencing, and, hopefully, you will find this World of Tomorrow and its denizens as entertaining and fun as I did.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.