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THOMAS BLEAKLY: PI

Wobot takes the Wap

By Linton Robinson, member

Nov 11, 2009: What fun!

I came to this hoping to find a mainstream (i.e. adult) story among all the high school monsters and zombies, but the hard-boiled ‘tec bit quickly slipped into SF, at least to the extent of a robot client.

But it’s not really SF, it’s humor. A close cousin would be Roger Rabbit, with the detective involved in something not at all real, but a huge lot of fun.

Once that’s established, things move along, then blow sky high. This is the sort of story that tends to get under-rated. The light tone and faux deadpan makes it look easy. But it’s the real thing, albeit wild and crazee

My favorite line so far: (and an example of the understatement I mentioned) "Her face was unreadable- robot emotions can be hard to interpret."

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THOMAS BLEAKLY: PI

A crazy ride

By Sarah Suleski, author of Sidonie

Sep 8, 2008: Note: Unfortunately this hasn’t been updated since 2009. Original review below.

Thomas Bleakly, PI is a crazed, full stop no brakes noir-with-robots adventures that is somewhat reminiscent of Blade Runner, only a lot funnier, a lot more manic, and not a movie. And after reading 14 parts (2 chapters) I’m hooked on it.

To start out, it seems like a complete farce, a parody of cyberpunk and noir, perhaps. The jokes fly and it opens with the classic scenario of the dame walking into the detective’s office with a case. The twist being that the dame is a robot and the detective is more crazed than cynical. It took me a little bit to really believe in the hype over the character. I felt like I was being told "Look how crazy he is!" a little too loudly and forcefully. But the jokes and the ease with which I could read the narration kept me entertained enough to read on. And Bleakly grew on me, as a character, as the story went on. He has this insouciant quality in any situation that makes me smile.

The whole thing also picks up, right about the time Bleakly experiences an unfortunate turn of events in Chapter 2 Part 2, which renders him even crazier than before. That’s when it really starts to get fun.

The PoV shifts are done rather abruptly and I found it confusing every time. All three PoVs are told in first person and there is no indication whose first person you’re in until you’ve read a bit. It adds to the manic feel of the story, but I can’t help get a little irritated every time I have to go back and read stuff over because I spent the last few parts in one character’s PoV and was then dumped into another’s with no warning. It’s like "Haha! Made ya look!" every time.

Besides that, though, I find the story easy to read through quickly. There are some run-on sentences but nothing too sloppy, so far. There’s a lot of funny or elaborate descriptions, fitting in with the whole tone of an extreme over the top punked out noir.

If you’re in the mood for something crazy, comic, noirish, and futuristic, Thomas Bleakly is a good bet.

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THOMAS BLEAKLY: PI

An absurdist postmodern sci-fi noir? I’m THERE.

By aricollins, member

Sep 8, 2008: Bleakly is a fun romp through a sci-fi noir detective gone wrong. But how can it be wrong when it feels so right?

Getting the bad out of the way, it does take a little to hit its stride, but really not too long at all. It starts as an over-the-top sci-fi detective story, but soon the author starts masterfully weaving in conflicting narratives that disagree not only on exactly what happens but even the setting at times. All three (so far) viewpoints are believable and compelling (and in Bleakly’s case hilarious), with the writing perfectly suiting each character in turn.

Read this if you like experimental fiction that doesn’t undercut the main point, which is to deliver an entertaining and engrossing read. Read this if you like science fiction, detectives, bizarre humor, and/or all three. And definitely read this for the absurd Time Travel Dating monologue Bleakly delivers at one point. Worth the price of admission by itself, especially when that price is only your time. Above all: read this.

(Disclaimer: I am a friend of the author. But I still tell him when he sucks. And he doesn’t here. So, again: read the fricking thing.)

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