Richter, Jon. “Auxiliary: London 2039”, TCK Publishing, 2020.
A Good Detective
Jon Richter’s “Auxiliary: London 2039” is set, naturally in London in 2039. It is a time when people communicate through high-tech glasses and stay indoors with robots taking care of every desire. The lines between reality and steel are severely blurred and huge corporations seek dominance over humanity. In the middle of this is “The Imagination Machine (TIM): the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives.” It lacks a soul bit otherwise has everything humanity requires.
Carl Dremmler, police detective has a new case: a girl has supposedly been murdered by her boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss the case to be quickly wrapped up but Dremmler cannot believe the story of the alleged murderer—that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime and not him but it was caused by an advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull that is
controlled by TIM.
Dremmler senses that there is a conspiracy that could destroy London if he does not expose the truth. He has to deal with desperate criminals, nasty businesswomen, deadly automatons and his own past in his attempts to solve the case. When he questions TIM’s motives, he faces the fact that the machine, indeed, has no soul.
Writer Richter uses a murder mystery plot in order to show the best and worst of the human race as it relates to the development of Artificial Intelligence. He examines the human relationship with robots. We see the role of AI in our lives and in this novel how TIM controls all of our processes through a chip implanted in our skulls. We really feel the sense of losing control and that we are in the hands of big-brother. It is quite scary that the freedom of choice is non-existent. Through a murder mystery as the background, we see the characters as they explore society in all of its aspects including government and big business.
This is a story that is propelled by the effect of AI on society and in which the characters are just there to show its power. We get an idea of what we might expect in the future and it is frightening. We look at how the decisions we make affect society.
Richter brings together detective noir, cyberpunk, and science-fiction. Dremmler, the main character is here to show us how one copes in a society such as this. We have robots replacing people in most jobs have replaced most jobs and because of that what we know as humanity is no more.
As Dremmler and his partner investigate, he suspects that things are not as they seem. How could TIM have caused murder if it was not hacked? Dremmler is quite sure that there’s a conspiracy at the bottom of it all. He is hampered by those in the police hierarchy and certain massive IT corporations. If it’s proven that TIM was indeed hacked, this could destroy public trust in AI and panic and upheaval would follow. Dremmler and his partner work under the radar, and as they uncover more, the situation becomes dire and deadly.
Generally, I am not a sci-fi reader but this story pulled me in and had me turning pages as quickly as possible. I seem to constantly come upon twists and turns in the plot and at times fearing what the next sentence would say. The abrupt ending left me in quite a state.