Battlestar Suburbia (Book Review)

Battlestar Suburbia asks what the world would be like if every appliance, gadget and machine suddenly gained sentience. In the tale that follows, McCrudden shows us an irresistible world through a humor-driven narrative that shows a fractured society filled with corruption and constant surveillance by the powers that be. There are many parallels to our world, giving way to a larger discussion about class structures and what happens when power dynamics shift.

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I only publish reviews of books I enjoy, and this novel meets that criterion.

BATTLESTAR SUBURBIA

Chris McCrudden
Farrago, August 2018

Purchase Hardcover*
Purchase Kindle eBook*

QUICK SUMMARY

In a world where appliances and machines call the shots, a pair of humans accidentally set off a catastrophic chain of events that will forever change the power dynamics of the universe.

Spoiler

WHY I LOVED IT

SENTIENT APPLIANCES

Battlestar Suburbia inhabits a universe both terrifying and hilarious. Machines rule with an iron fist (pun intended), with humans occupying the lowest spot on the societal food chain. We’re not talking fancy pants robots here. Toasters, bread machines, and hair dryers are just a few of the billions of machine citizens traveling around the system of machine-controlled planets. You’ve got smartphone politicians. Motorcycle druggies getting high on their own exhaust fumes. There’s no limit to the author’s creativity in terms of sentient beings, and it creates an interesting dynamic in the narrative. What should be a scary reality is actually quite funny as you imagine being chased by a taser with legs. It makes for dozens of amazing visuals.

AN ANALYSIS OF CLASS STRUCTURES

There’s a large conversation on class structures at the center of the narrative, with strong ties to the current issues our society faces. The world changed drastically with the rise of machines and didn’t get any better. It was just a transfer of power from one corrupt, hateful group of politicians to another. Humans have been relegated to servants of the machines or shady back-alley workers who service their more questionable needs. Within the machine society, you’ve got a lower class living on the outskirts, banned from regular society. Any slight against a machine is punishable by death, giving the setting an extreme 1984 vibe. The author keeps this conversation at the forefront throughout, creating many thought-provoking moments.

THE THRILL OF THE CHASE

McCrudden has created a solid thriller, following the gang of humans as they try to evade capture and end up creating an international crisis that threatens their society. There are machines around every corner with diabolical intentions for humankind, and the implications are radical. The story chugs along nicely as you go between perspectives, seeing the world from the eyes of humans and a couple of machines helping them out.

AN ORIGINAL WORLD

I appreciate a well-thought-out world and it’s clear McCrudden had a lot of fun creating this one. It’s drastically different from anything we know in terms of visuals, while remaining similar in terms of power structures and societal issues that come with them. Cities are towering with impossibly high buildings, back allies feature ‘massage’ parlors to service wealthy machines. You’ll be fascinated by the author’s creations and his dedication to creating a coherent world that throws a radical ‘what if’ into a science fiction stew.

CONCEPTS

Robots, Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Future, Space

Interested in more books like Battlestar Suburbia? Check out our book reviews here.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

*Reviews & Robots has an affiliate relationship with the Amazon Associates program and may be compensated for sales related to the Amazon links enclosed in this article.