Fiction Reviews

The Tin Men

(2015) Christopher Golden, Headline, £13.99, trdpbk, 339pp, ISBN 978-1-472-20967-2


I like Christopher Golden, from his 'Shadow Saga' vampire novels to novelisations of TV series, especially Buffy and films like Hellboy to various series that he has co-authored with the likes of Tim Lebbon, Amber Benson and the late Rick Hautala along with many others, and his own stand alone novels are probably even better, such as The Ferryman, The Boys Are Back in Town and especially his early novel, Strangewood, perhaps best described as the characters in an Oz-type world decide to get their own back on their creator, but it is more than that, and much better than that description. He is a good writer who tries different things with each of his books, although itís probably fair to say that he is perhaps not so well known over here, and I see that Headline are giving his previous novel, Snowblind, a plug on the back of this book and he has already got another novel, Dead Ringers, out from Headline this year.

Firmly in his doing-things-differently-mode, Golden has come up with a slick science fiction thriller set in a world where the economy and the environment have gone to hell, and the USA are the world policemen, but they can police the world from a distance, using robotic drones, or Tin Men as they are sometimes known, or labelled 'metal coffins' by those who are more closer to the reality of the situation. Yes, the U. S. Armyís Remote Infantry Corps police the world from afar, or as far away as their underground base called 'The Hump' which is actually based in Germany where soldiers do eight hour shifts by mind-melding with robots out in the field who tackle civil wars and insurgents and terrorists. Naturally this has made the US even more unpopular than they are normally, and the Tin Men seem invulnerable, and a perfect way to avoid putting real boots on the ground and bringing the dead back in body bags.

But those terrorists are a tricky bunch and soon they have developed Bot Killers which the Tin Men encounter when patrolling in Damascus, even worse an electromagnetic pulse is triggered which devastates what is left of the world and leaves the minds of the soldiers trapped with their robotic frames, and now is the time to remember that you can get trapped inside a coffin, maybe even buried inside one.

Thus a story unfolds from different viewpoints, such as Kate, who is leader to the group; regular grunt Private Danny Kelso; terrorist Hanif Khan; Alexa, the daughter of an ambassador; Aimee the techy person back at base who is dealing with a saboteur; and Felix, a presidential aide. Meanwhile, back in this bad new reality whatís left of the world leaders are due to meet in Athens, always a bad idea I say in these troubled times and a sure bet for a terrorist atrocity so what are left, of the Tin Men have to hotfoot it to Greece and save what is left of the day.

All in all, The Tin Men is a great concept, with solid action, an authentic atmosphere punctuated by brutally realistic battle scenes, multiple points-of-view, all combining to make a fast moving enjoyable romp that I could easily see being turned into a film, TV series, or graphic novel.

Ian Hunter

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