Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Author: Carl Rauscher
Genre: science fiction
Price: $1.99 (Smashwords)
Point of Sale: Smashwords
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
Reboot, a novel by Carl Rauscher, is an interesting entry in the science fiction subgenre of “post-apocalyptic” writing. The book is set a few years after The Pulse, a man-made electromagnetic event designed to destroy all micro-processors, including the ones in your car and PC. It’s the story of Oscar Ridell and Bonnie “Rabbit,” an eight-year-old girl who is working as a messenger. After The Pulse, America has reverted to an early 19th-century technology level, and Oscar is one of a group of people sent out (belatedly) by Washington to get some level of technology (think 1950s) up and working. Oscar arrives at a small town in Iowa beaten and shot, and he spends the winter working on his mission while dealing with the local heavies.
Now, I rather liked the premise of Reboot, and the story is generally well-written. However, I have several issues, the first of which can all be boiled down to the author playing a game of “let’s keep a secret.” Oscar is a major character in this story, and large parts of it are told from his point of view. Yet, we the readers aren’t told a number of key facts that Oscar knows. These are the sort of key facts that would be “front of mind” for Oscar.
Now, I understand that Oscar can’t announce these facts to the world, but he can (and should) tell them to us, the reader. Not knowing these facts is supposed to generate suspense. It doesn’t work – rather it generates irritation in that we’re being kept in the dark. This irritation hides the real tension, which should be between the townspeople and the (unknown to them) Bad Guys.
My second issue is related to this. We have a Bad Guy who is somewhat hidden from the townspeople. But he doesn’t need to hide, or at least his need to hide is not well-explained. As written, the Bad Guy is a not-very-bright mustache-twirling caricature. I would have liked to have seen more from this character’s point of view.
Despite all of this, I did in fact enjoy reading Reboot. I found it an interesting twist on the concept of rebuilding after the apocalypse, and technically well-written and executed. I also felt that Oscar Ridell and Rabbit were well-written characters. In fact, with the exception of the Bad Guy, all the characters worked for me. Overall, I was pleased with Reboot.