I was given the opportunity to read Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter, and now one of our readers will get that same opportunity.
A detective in a near-future cyberpunk world faces a new type of threat, when it appears a man’s cybernetic arm killed a woman without the man’s involvement.
It’s a fair science fiction mystery. That’s hard to do. Larry Niven has said that Gil “The Arm” Hamilton is his favourite character, but he doesn’t write many Gil stories because of the difficulty of the science fiction mystery. In addition to the usual mystery rules, you also have to explain the limitations and capabilities of the technology of the world, without a big, boring exposition dump. This story succeeds in delivering a fair and engaging science fiction mystery.
Some pieces of the mystery are a little too easy to figure out, while others are entirely surprising (even though the elements and clues needed to deduce them are there in the text.)
This feels original to me. I admit I haven’t spent much time reading cyberpunk, but I haven’t read anything quite like this. I give it 6 out of 6.
The imagery is the way I like it. All relevant details are clear, often vivid, and naturally integrated. Irrelevant details are not included. (Note: details about red herrings in the mystery count as relevant, because it wouldn’t be a good mystery without red herrings.) I give it 5 out of 6.
The story is well paced, and well told. We have the puzzle pieces, which we may or may not recognize as puzzle pieces the first time we see them. Even if you aren’t trying to solve the mystery before the detective, I expect you’ll be engaged. I give it 5 out of 6.
The characterization is clear and consistent. There was only one character I couldn’t figure out, but I took the seemingly inconsistent actions as evidence of involvement in the plot, and turned out to be correct in doing so. (Naturally, I won’t name this character for fear of spoilings things for readers.) I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response was strong. The best indicator of this, I find, is when I tell myself things like “I only have time to read one more chapter” and then end up reading four or five. This happened often with this book. I expected to finish it on Monday, since we have a three day weekend around this parts, but I ended up finishing it on Friday night. I received a copy on Wednesday. I give it 6 out of 6.
The editing is tight. There is only one sequence that I don’t see a purpose to, but the odds of having one unnecessary sequence compared to the odds of me simply missing the importance on my first readthrough… I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, I’d recommend this to anyone with interests in cyberpunk and/or murder mysteries. I actually enjoy this more than other cyberpunk, as the world here seems more plausible, and it is a more fitting extrapolation of the world we already live in than many other entries in the genre. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Auxiliary: London 2039 receives 37 out of 42.
The kind people at TCK Publishing have given us the opportunity to give a copy of this book away to one of our readers. Simply enter your name, email address, and country of residence in this form, and we’ll pick a random winner one week from today, Sunday, August 8. The winner will be contacted to arrange delivery details. (The country is required to determine eligibility for a physical copy as opposed to an eBook.)