Title: The Automation
Author(s): BLA & GB Gabbler
Series: (Circo del Herrero #1)
Pub. Date: September 23rd,2014
Genre: YA/NA, Mythpunk
Summary from Goodreads:
The capital-A Automatons of Greco-Roman myth aren’t clockwork. Their design is much more divine. They’re more intricate than robots or androids or anything else mortal humans could invent. Their windup keys are their human Masters. They aren’t mindless; they have infinite storage space. And, because they have more than one form, they’re more versatile and portable than, say, your cell phone—and much more useful too. The only thing these god-forged beings share in common with those lowercase-A automatons is their pre-programmed existence. They have a function—a function their creator put into place—a function that was questionable from the start…
Odys (no, not short for Odysseus, thank you) finds his hermetic lifestyle falling apart after a stranger commits suicide to free his soul-attached Automaton slave. The humanoid Automaton uses Odys’s soul to “reactivate” herself. Odys must learn to accept that the female Automaton is an extension of his body—that they are the same person—and that her creator-god is forging a new purpose for all with Automatons…
The novel calls itself a “Prose Epic,” but is otherwise a purposeful implosion of literary clichés and gimmicks: A Narrator and an Editor (named Gabbler) frame the novel. Gabbler’s pompous commentary (as footnotes) on the nameless Narrator’s story grounds the novel in reality. Gabbler is a stereotypical academic who likes the story only for its so-called “literary” qualities, but otherwise contradicts the Narrator’s claim that the story is true.
THE AUTOMATION is a this-world fantasy that reboots mythical characters and alchemical concepts. Its ideal place would be on the same bookshelf as Wilson’s ALIF THE UNSEEN and Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS—though it wouldn’t mind bookending Homer, Virgil, and Milton, to be specific.
And, yes, “B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler” are really just a pen name.
The Automation is a strange, gods-rich novel with equally strange characters and a world built with webs of deceit and secrecy. It was interesting to read, but the book also had it’s fair share of disturbing qualities.
Odys witnesses a suicide, and doing so let him be entered into a world he didn’t know existed, a world with Automations (Automata?). Not only is he dragged into a plot to take down a rogue Master who has assumed evil intentions, his sister gets involved and danger takes a whole new meaning. Secrets, plots, and strange happenings are just the beginning.
“…Had it-had the head-exploded?“ -Page 11
Odys (Otis). He is the main character, at least he is until the last 50 or so pages where Odissa takes his place. He was only a pawn on the board, another game piece to be played. The suicide he witnessed was his initiation (that’s how I like to see it, anyway) and he got his first Atomation (they’re the other half of someone’s soul. As soon as you touch their inanimate form [paperclip, compass etc] they begin to drain your soul and they become you, your soul. The same person, two bodies.), Maud. However, Odys is a special case. Why? Well, he didn’t sync with Maud right away (meaning she was draining him, but he didn’t want to face everything he hid from himself [because it all went to her, she’s the part of the soul he doesn’t want to face], so he couldn’t accept his soul [her]). That should’ve killed him, because we need our souls to live, and the energy it took out of Odys and Maude was basically draining their life-force. But it didn’t.
Anyway. Odys is bitter, angry, has OCD, and his addictions are coffee (can’t blame him for that), and cigarettes. He was raised by his father who wasn’t a good father, and his relationship with his sister stems from that. Oh, did I mention Odys and Odissa (Odessa) are twins? And that they love each other? Either way, I quite enjoyed his character. His bleak outlook on life and his tendency to reject anything he didn’t want to face made this book all the more interesting.
Odissa on the other hand, we don’t really know much about. She’s strong, has a bad past, doesn’t trust easily, and she likes to argue. She’s intelligent. A great female character. I would love to see more of her in the next book!
Dorian + Fletcher; Mother + Anslem; Bob + Cestus. All Master and Automation relations. They love each other, and their relationships are practically unbreakable since they’re the same person. Who cares if they have sex? It’s like doing yourself, only you have two bodies. Yeah. This was odd for me to read about, only because they’re the same person. It was hard to think of them as separate people, especially since most of the characters seemed to have similar voices, but it didn’t bother me once I got used to it (they’re basically soul mates because they’re two halves of the same soul, literally).
“He was like a genie to me. Just some slave and external facet bound to me, not my own soul.” -Page 154
Some Automations had inanimate forms that perfectly fit with their “human” forms however, and I thought this was pretty funny since my favourite definitely makes sense with the crazy Automation who potentially has a messed up psyche.
“On concrete as bent nail -the kind that had been hammered and struck off-aim, the head warped…” -Page 255
The footnotes were humorous, though sometimes I only skimmed them because they began to drag the story itself. Overall though, they gave a better insight to the story. And they also had meaning. I have a theory as to why the author decided to put two names on this book and have a “Narrator”and “Editor” (one person, different label/name), and it has everything to do with the story this book contains. I won’t bother you with my thoughts though (a picture of my GR updates are below if you want to know).
“Word vomit, on the other hand, is why BLA needed an editor.” –Page 15 [footnote]
This book had humorous, dramatic, and slightly disturbing moments in it. The perfect combination for this story. The strangeness of it all did make it feel like the author was experimenting, though. It also dragged. We got history lessons (basically), and multiple info-dumps in the first half.
“Since Odys (and you) got a shit-ton of backstory from Mother just now, why not a little more?” –Page 170
I was interested enough to keep reading, and I definitely am glad that I did because I enjoyed my time learning about the characters and plots, but I will admit to skimming parts.
You think you can predict what will happen, but you can’t. I tried and failed miserably. It was refreshing to have twists that I don’t see coming, especially since they were well done.
The plot itself is actually very slow moving, and not much happens at all, but with so much going on (getting an Automation, meeting the other Automations and their Masters, finding Odissa, meeting a god, unraveling plots) it doesn’t feel slow other than the parts with the info-dumps. It definitely builds the pace for the next book, where I expect great things!
The Automation is an enjoyable read despite the few issues mentioned above. The author wasn’t scared to get down and dirty, or just full out strange. I am definitely thinking about picking up the next book!