cover image Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: A Novel of Retropolis

Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: A Novel of Retropolis

Bradley W. Schenck. Tor, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8329-7

In this madcap homage to the pulp adventures and fanciful inventions of the early to mid-20th century, debut author and artist Schenck takes readers on a tour of Retropolis, an art deco city whose hallmarks include flying cars, pneumatic tube transports, and indentured robots serving numerous functions. When the Info-Slate switchboard operators are unexpectedly fired en masse, one of them, Nola Gardner, hires freelance adventurer Kelvin “Dash” Kent to find out why they’ve been replaced. Their quest takes them deep into the heart of Retropolis, where they stumble across an ambitious plan that could affect the entire population of the city. They also encounter spider cultists on the moon and the world’s smallest giant robot. The adventure grows ever stranger as the mystery deepens, invoking mad science and action at every turn. The story is brought to life by Schenck’s own retrofuturistic artwork; it’s suitably evocative where technology is concerned, but the depictions of humans are awkward. A genuine love for the material makes this a strong and entertaining debut. Agent: Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Associates. (June)