Monday, July 18, 2016

Made To Kill

I was in the library last week looking for an easy book to read.  I did not feel like working too hard. Something short, enjoyable, that would compel me to turn the pages.

I saw a book billed as a combination of Science Fiction and Raymond Chandler detective story.  I've never been a fan of Science Fiction and while I know there are legions who swear by fast talking Raymond Chandler yarns, I am not among them.  But the book was short--only 237 pages. And when I read the first page or two in the library it looked like I could get into it.  So I took a chance and took it out.

Bad choice. The book is, as advertised, a combination of Science Fiction and witty detective dialogue.  Therefore, predictably for me, not my cup of tea.

You might wonder why I don't like Sci-Fi.  Well,

The real world is as weird as necessary for me.  I don't need something beyond this world for- "out of this world."  Most stories about planet Earth are sufficiently peculiar. Also, with Sci Fi I often can't (or don't want to) get my head around the references.  I don't want to know about the planet GWAMP that is 21 gazillion kilometers from its sun FLAMQUE which is comprised of the element SHVANTZ discovered in the year 2644 .  I just roll my eyes at this stuff.  Hey there are 118 elements in the real periodic table. Nine planets. Lots of stars.  That's enough.

Why don't I like 1940s gumshoe novels?

The quick repartee of gumshoe novels does not seem real to me. Does anybody, did anybody, ever speak like that? Also, the plots typically are superficial making the yarn more about how clever the detectives speak than any story.  Are there any couples that chat like, behave like, the couples in these books. I really do like the movie, Double Indemnity, (based on a novel of this ilk) but do lovers speak like that in real life?

Biased or not, the fact is I did not like Made to Kill and it took me a long time to read its 237 pages.

You may feel differently so here's the basic plot-without giving a whole lot away. (Not that there is a whole lot to give away).

Raymond is the last robot on earth.  He is also a detective. Raymond the robot's speciality is killing people.  A client comes to visit one day and asks Raymond to kill a Hollywood actor. She, the client, hands over a heavy bag of gold (literally) for payment.   Throw in some Soviet cold war characters, radioactivity, a Russian plot, the CIA, a couple of killings, some witty dialogue, and 237 pages later you finish--and then wonder why you picked the book up in the first place.

There is, however, something I liked about the book and it will stick with me.  Raymond the robot forgets everything every night, so he often is acting without information that he once had, but the next day does not.  I liked this because it reminded me of many of we non-robots who often make decisions in the absence of information that we once had access to, but are now unaware of not only the information, but of the fact that we once had it.  I was reminded of this recently when someone told me a joke which had me roar with laughter, only to be sobered when the jokester told me that I reacted similarly a few months earlier when the joke was first relayed.

I'd skip this book unless you like both Sci Fi and fast talking forties gumshoe stories.

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