Reality 36 (Richard & Klein 1) by Guy Haley [Book Review]

Explosive PI Meets Singularity Debut

I love new authors especially if they write science fiction. This is Guy Haley’s debut and the first Richard & Klein novel. The second part, Omega Point is scheduled for April next year. If you want to sample the book you may do so below. You may also check out a free Richard & Klein novella at Guy Haley’s home page Haley’s Comment. I wonder if this is the first book out of Angry Robot’s open submission month earlier this year.

I totally misunderstood the blurb thinking it was about an Ai with a fetish for π but it is obviously about a Private Investigator (PI) fetish. The novel is basically a murder case but evolve to a novel take on singularity. The main characters are a class Five AI, Richard and Otto Klein, a former German special operations cyborg. They have an entertaining buddy relationship with some dry humor and a lot of respect even if Otto sometimes want to kill all machines including his partner. You might think Richard is the brain and Otto is the muscles but it is not that easy. One of the more entertaining scenes is when Richard has to make a full frontal attack in a battle mech.

Each chapter has a point-of-view character.

This takes place some hundred and fifty years in the future after the AI wars. In the EU and USNA all sentients have rights including the non player characters in the gaming realms so they have been closed to gamers and the individuals in there are allowed to live their own lives without influence from human ‘gods’. There are now 36 such realms. Virtual emersion is a crime. Each chapter starts with: All members of the Community of Equals are created free and equal in dignity and rights to emphasis this rule.

One of the foremost activists for machine rights, Professor Zhang Qifang is being murdered at least twice and Richard & Klein are conned into taking the case by Hughie, the EuroPol AI. Hughie and Richard have a funny deadpan kind of dialog and an I-am-not-showing-any-feeling kind of friendship going on.

Prominent in the story are also the Professor’s assistant Veronique Valdaire and her abusive cheerful phone Chloe. There is something I really like about intelligent and witty computer companions like Chloe. She reminds me of Kris Longknife’s Nelly and Ingrid that philosophy discussing Nokia phone from the Netherworld Trilogy by Christopher Rowley. Bickering is fun especially if it is a machine that does it.

Veronique goes on the run early in the novel and we get to follow her and the detectives as they try to unravel the mystery. They also try to avoid being captured by The Virtualities Investigation Authority, VIA which sounds like soap to me but here it is the organization that protect and police the Neukinds.

Guy Haley has created a fascinating world with The People’s Dynasty hiding behind the Great Firewall of China and the United States of North America governed by the three Sams. The AIs’ have started to clean up centuries of pollution and live in a not to secure peace with humanity. Near-I and AI machines is part of life. There are no info dumps just details glimpsed. It feels believable and well thought out. It is a world I would like to learn more of.

As you understand by now I really liked Realm 36. It got a fast pace, is humorous in tone, filled with action, combat and robots a great debut. Guy Haley is a writer to watch. This is not a standalone book it ends in a cliffhanger hopefully concluded in Omega Point next spring. I warmly recommend this explosive PI meets Singularity debut.


Book Information

Reality 36 (Richard & Klein 1) by Guy Haley (Angry Robot 2011) – review copy – Amazon US | UK

Meet Richards and Klein – the Holmes and Watson of the 22nd century.

Except that Richards is a highly advanced artificial intelligence, and Klein his German ex-military cyborg partner. Their first case takes them into the renegade digital realm known as Reality 36 and through the Great Firewall of China, in search of a missing Artificial Intelligence Rights activist. What they find there will threaten every reality.

File Under: Science Fiction [ The Great Firewall | Net Profit | Don’t Upload | Remurder ]