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‘Automatic Reload: A Novel’ (review)

Written by Ferrett Steinmetz
Published by Tor Books


It isn’t often that a cyberpunk-techno body-hacking romantic comedy/mercenary/assassins-for-hire story comes along where both characters are horribly enslaved to body dysmorphia, panic disorders and PTSD but hey, the genre world is ever expanding so why not right?

In Ferrett Steinmetz’s newest book, Automatic Reload, you get all of that genre-mashing as well as a healthy scoop of a soon-to-exist dystopian world of highly violent corporate slavery featuring Mat, a former drone operator turned weapon-limb enhanced mercenary who takes a job with a corporation against his better judgement & Silvia, a woman who is forcibly turned into a highly deadly assassin against her will by that corporation.

While their “Meet-Cute” might not be of the Sleepless In Seattle variety, their attraction and chemistry between gun battles and car chases are comparable to the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks romance if, you know, Ryan and Hanks had weapons instead of limbs and suffered from several mental illnesses while performing acts of intense violence.

Basically, it’s like if Robocop met Alita: Battle Angel and they fell in love while trying to flee a shadow organization.

Fast-paced, intense, funny & definitely a must-read for all those who enjoy speculative fiction with a heavy weapon tech bent, Automatic Reload is solid entry to the genre with a lot of kudos going to Steinmetz for managing to not only construct and navigate what could have been an unreadable, highly chaotic storyline in lesser hands (did you read the into paragraph above?) but also creating an almost poetic ode to how technology and the human need for connection interplay among the violence of corporatocracy and the isolation of mental disorders.

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