The Punch Escrow

Tal Klein. Geek & Sundry, $14.99 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-942645-58-0
There are lots of witty moments in Klein’s debut (the winner of Geek & Sundry’s hard science fiction contest), but its flaws turn a potentially fun adventure into an exercise in frustration. In 2147, Joel Byram, who makes his living teaching AIs how to appear more human, is about to teleport off on a vacation with his estranged scientist wife, Sylvia. When a terrorist attack takes down the teleportation network, Joel learns the awful truth (which experienced readers of SF will already have guessed): rather than literally transporting people, it recreates them at their destinations and then destroys their earlier selves. Thanks to a complicated series of events, Joel’s previous body isn’t killed, and there are now two of him running around. In spite of the predictability, this setup has potential, but there’s either too much or not enough goofiness. Lengthy footnotes that are too long to be serious but not funny enough to entertain, gags such as a pet dog named Peeve, and excessive 20th-century pop culture references all keep the novel from committing to being a thriller, but it never feels like a romp, either. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/19/2017
Release date: 07/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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