Review Blog

May 01 2014

Machine wars by Michael Pryor

cover image

Random House Australia Children's, 2014. ISBN: 9780857982766.
(Age: 10-15)When you pick up a book and the high speed, edge-of-your-seat action starts within the first few sentences, you know you are on the edge of a breakneck journey that will keep you glued to the pages.
Michael Pryor's new novel Machine wars, explores the scary side of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and those who have seen movies on this theme will know just how scary it can become.
Utilising SciFi ideas around technology which is already becoming a reality, Pryor's main character is 14 year old Bram, a young man who has a very unusual family. His father is an environmental scientist of some kind and his mother is at the cutting edge of AI research and development. Bram has grown up living in many places and consequently with few friends but always with a contingency 'Scatter and Hide' plan. Bram's mother Anita has prepared her family well in the event of one of her AI creations turning rogue.
And suddenly that day has arrived.
Bram arrives home unsuspectingly after school and band practice and is almost terminated by 'junkbots' who have invaded his home and indeed, blow it up. As he quickly goes into the 'Scatter and Hide' mode, he is on his own - his dad away on an expedition, his mother gone into her refuge to try and stop this new evil of her own creation. His mother has prepared for every foreseeable eventuality and with Bram's hidden emergency kit is his old toy Bob the duck - now a sassy and spookily smart AI guide and mentor.
Prepared to buy his mother time with only Bob to help him, Bram unwittingly involves an acquaintance from his new school, Stella, in his deadly mission. Having gravitated to each other due to their respective oddities, the pair become worthy opponents of the AI mastermind Ahriman.
Three weeks of dodging CCV systems, internet stalking, overhead drones and copters, junkbots, dangerous home appliances and killer heavy machinery bring Bram and Stella closer together and enables them to fully realise latent skills and talents which take the battle to the enemy.
With plenty of furious action, techno gizmos and a relatively undemanding vocabulary, this will be perfect for reluctant readers.
Boys (particularly) from 10 to 15 will love this exciting and thrilling modern day adventure.
Sue Warren

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