Every now and then while looking through the sci-fi/fantasy listings something will jump out at me. There are just so many titles out there that it can be a little daunting so as of late I only look a couple of times a week. As it is I’ve got plenty of novels to choose from when it comes down to selecting my next set of books to read. What I don’t usually have large supply of is great short stories that I can pull out between longer books to help break things up a little. There is just something about being able to sit down and read a complete story in one go. I think most of you avid readers can identify with that on some level. Unfortunately, this one took me a couple sittings just to get into it and it had nothing to do with it being a little bit more on the darker side of sci-fi.
I have read a few books and/or stories in this sort of subgenre and liked them well enough over the past year. There is just something alluring about the idea of advanced AI and android fiction that seems to be plausible on some level given the technological advances that are being made in the science. I was expecting something more along the lines of Matthew Mather’s Dark Net or David Beers’ Singularity Series with a stronger dystopian feel. There was some of that, but I don’t believe that it ever got fully developed or was actually the main attempt of Wet Work. Instead, it felt like an underdeveloped layer that could have been more fully explored to give the setting more bite.
Once I got about halfway through Wet Work the story and characters finally began to feel more human than hunks of metal with an AI running in the periphery. The main character Aiko is an android bounty hunter/assassin of sorts has begun to fail at her job. In Aiko’s attempt to please her handler and hide the fact that the “virus” was beginning to affect her programming. The idea being if she could just capture the Shojou target everything would just go back to normal. The problem with Aiko was that she was becoming the very thing she was hunting down for Esperanza Agency. Walker did a good job giving Aiko a dilemma to face during the latter half of the story that flipped her world upside down. I was better able to connect with her as a character at that point and truthfully hoped she would escape. While the end of this story was a bit gruesome it was also satisfying to a certain level as Aiko emerged as a stronger more well-rounded character.
There is some good action scattered throughout the story, but Wet Work was in no way as nail-biting as the description suggests. The action really didn’t peak until the end and in my opinion, could have fared better if there was even just ten more pages at the end of the ride unless the point was for Walker to continue Aiko’s story after leaving Esperanza’s hidden building. The end just felt a little too abrupt is all. After all who doesn’t like a story of androids gone rogue? This story made me want more, but just a little too late in the game. Leaving me with the feeling that I might have been better off just reading Asimov’s more fully developed I, Robot to satisfy that itch for a dark sci-fi with androids with on emergent AI.