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  • Satirical dystopian sci-fi/Love, Death, & Robots

    (I received this novel as an ARC. All opinions are mine and freely given.) "She held up the two bras in front of the mirror. The yellow one looked nice. Maybe she could find a pair of matching panties and play banana for a lucky someone to peel later tonight..." No. You read that correctly. That's exactly how 'Hot Ash and the Oasis Defect' by Philip Wyeth begins. I don't know a single woman who thinks like that. Nor one who would wear a 'dark teal blue combat bra' in the line of work as a cop if she could, particularly one with 'blue glitter.' That stuff gets everywhere. But it's just a story and in this case it's really not meant to be realistic. If I'm being honest.. and that's something I pride myself on in reviews.. I immediately put the book down at that point and stared at it. I picked it up, re-read it, and followed the same pattern a couple of times in disbelief. I even went around my house telling people what I read.. because I was astounded that I'd read it at all.. but bear with me.. until the end of the review. The book is actually very well-written, despite my issues of personal taste and the general state of disorientation it left me with. Basically a satirical dystopian sci-fi story, the book is literally only 178 pages long. It should have been a quick read, but it wasn't and for me that's mostly because I found it so weird. I love sci-fi, dystopian works, and satire.. but together it takes a bit of adjustment. I'm a pretty open-minded person and reader.. so I'm not offended by the drug use or strange scenes or devices like the 'Clam Bake.' I'm not explaining that one here.. you're going to have to read it.. if you want to understand. As is especially popular these days, the book puts women in charge of the populace. The difference being that in this future things like procreation are all handled in labs, menial jobs by robots, and any work of any real value is done by women. Men are essentially being phased out. A few older men may still hold positions from before the changes, but the younger ones are mostly kind of set aside in communities together and kept entertained. As I said, it's an incredibly odd story. There's a lot of man-hating going on here and that's just something I've never been a fan of.. so I had to keep reminding myself it was a satirical approach. Unpopular opinion time. This felt like a representation of a lot of what's going on in society today. Women have been oppressed, harassed, assaulted.. so much.. that many men not only defend against that, but can be found going so far as to verbally degrade their own overall. Not just specific people. The same can be said for discussions on race, religion, gender, sexuality, and more.. and that's interesting.. but also kind of frightening. Anyway, after several attempts to read the book.. about 48 pages in, I hit my stride. I finally at least mostly adjusted to the strange atmosphere of their world and though the way women spoke to and about men never felt comfortable, I was used to seeing it enough that it didn't automatically pull me out of the story. Digging beyond all that, there's a murder mystery below that's centered around a group of women that have elevated themselves through helping to bring on the societal changes at hand. It's a bit predictable and the conclusion doesn't feel really satisfying, but it was woven well and no one could ever blame Wyeth of lacking in creativity. The book mostly comes across as a fun, kind of campy sci-fi adventure like one might have read in the 70's and 80's.. or like you still might catch on one of those tv channels specializing in bikini clad babes fighting aliens with giant guns shaped like-- well, you get the picture. ​ If you enjoy those types of things, this is the book for you.

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  • A Sci-Fi tale and a good mystery!

    Although categorized as a Sci-Fi tale and reminiscent of those men’s action-adventure stories from an earlier time, Hot Ash and the Oasis Defect is also a good mystery. The main character, Ash, begins as a pretty shallow, arrogant creature out for what she wants, no matter who she uses to get it. She’s even quite insensitive and rude with her police partner, Ted, frequently poking at him over his physical limitations (he’s got an artificial leg) and haranguing him about when he’s going to retire. Sooo not a buddy partnership. Her thoughts and thought patterns are not like any woman’s I’ve ever known BUT the author is depicting an alternate future where women are the power gender (and have been, at the time of the story, for a couple of decades) so who knows for certain what this altered environment might produce in the population. I don’t think any men I’ve known, in real life, thought this way either but what do I know. I felt the author was trying to create an extreme on purpose, a vast contrast, maybe to provide for a greater change in attitude for the character to have later in the story. There is a lot of “horn-dogging” on her part and that of her friends at the beginning of the book. There is a meaninglessness to Ash’s sexual relationships, past and present, but as the book progresses she is cognizant of her dissatisfaction and knows that something inside her is changing. She realizes she’s living recklessly, without meaning, drinking too much, doing pills, and going through sexual partners like issues. The focus of the book eventually narrows to solving the murders though and Ash experiences some surprising changes (to her) in her thoughts and behavior, especially toward the witnesses and a male gamer, Vernon. The book is well-written making it easy and enjoyable to read. It’s a real page turner with a future society that seemed plausible with an increase in the use of advanced AIs and things called Worker-Factory-Mechanics which have eerily embedded themselves into every aspect of life and that may pose a problem in future stories. Although I was initially turned off by the character, Ash, I wanted to see her solve the murders and be absolutely right about her theories by the end of the book. (We really don’t find out about her theories though leaving room for sequels, I hope.) I really liked "the runts," Vernon, in particular, and her partner, Detective Gillard, and wanted a better situation to come about for all of them. Just another reason to hope there are more books in the future continuing this story. I recommend this book for readers that like a futuristic mystery in a society that is very different from our present. There are sexual themes and scenes (male-female, female-female) throughout so this is not a book for some readers or younger ones. I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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