The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein

Posted On 24 August 2017

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the punchPeople, it’s a woohoo moment.  This book was amazing.  I loved it.  Simply loved it.  I’m not entirely sure how to review it because it’s a tricky little sucker but I’ll give it a shot, in fact I’ll stick to the principles of KISS as established in the book – ‘keep it simple, stupid’ (shouldn’t be too difficult for me).  That being said I hope that you forgive me if this review is a jumbled mess and believe me when I say that’s not a reflection on the book itself.

As the book starts we make the acquaintance of Joel Byram.  Joel is a bit of a smooth operator who basically helps AIs to become a bit more ‘human’ by talking to them, telling them jokes, teaching them innuendo, etc.  Joel’s wife was recruited into a high powered job about 12 months prior and since then their relationship has taken a bit of a backseat, which is why its really important that Joel isn’t late for his anniversary drinks with his wife.  Of course Joel loses track of time and so to salvage the situation decides to blow a days pay and use teleportation in order to save a little time and a fight with his missus.  This is when we the readers take our first glimpse of teleportation which is now widely used as a time saving device.  There may not be poverty or global warming in the year 2147 but money still talks and people still have a crazy desire to rush around like headless chickens.  Think of the teleportation devices created by Seth Brundle in the film The Fly – then take these teleportal devices and place them all over the world and in doing so create the fastest form of travel available.  People can zoom around from A to B without sight or sound (or fear) of a Brundlefly!   Of course, you can never please all the people all the time and so there is a constant running battle between a religious sect out to save peoples’ souls and the large corporation (known as International Transportation or IT) that run the transportation devices.  Joel, is of course, blissfully unaware of any such rancour until the day that he tries to transport to a second honeymoon in Costa Rice and instead finds himself with his own double and a missing wife.

That is it.  I can’t say anything more about the plot because you have to discover things as the good author intended and I sure as hell am not going to be the one to spoil the surprise because it’s so bloody good!  Literally, I love this book – in case you missed that bit earlier.

So, the world building is excellent, there are all sorts of innovative ideas that fill the pages, some of them that flow naturally during the course of the story and others relegated to footnotes.  Yes, I realise that footnotes can be a bit tedious, particularly when you’re reading on electronic devices, but to be honest these are really well done and frankly I think essential to the story.  I’m sure you could skip them although I didn’t personally do so and I thought they brought a lot to the table not to mention were witty and interesting – plus, if I can understand all the jargon (aka sci fi mumbo jumbo) then I’m sure anyone can.

On top of this Joel is a very engaging character.  He narrates the story well and suffers from the gamut of emotions that we, the readers, also experience along with him.   He’s an absolute massive 1980’s geek enjoying the music, films and all sorts of other bits and pieces from the era and, whilst this might go over the heads of some readers it really hit the spot for me – I just loved it – right down to the chapter headings.  And, to be honest, even if you miss some (or all for that matter) of the references I can’t imagine that it would have any impact on the story whatsoever – it’s just like an added bonus if you pick some of them up.

What I really loved about this though is it just brought to mind some of the 80s and 90s  sci fi movies – if you think about Terminator, The Fly, Total Recall, Blade Runner – okay, this isn’t the same as any of those but for some reason it brings them all to mind in this mashed up sense of nostalgia inside my brain and creates a riot of fun and an amazing wow factor.  In fact, who am I kidding, the wow factor is the real hook here – a unique tale that twists and turns and writhes and wriggles amongst the secrets and lies.  It’s brilliant.

What more do you want – get out of here and go read it.  I know I’ve not given much away here, I don’t want to give away spoilers but what I can do is gush and I hope I’ve done enough of that to encourage you to make this your next read.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.