The Junker Girl and Her Droid

The Junker Girl and Her Droid - Merrell Michael
Mona, a junker girl living outside the domes in the post-rot devastation, finds a finger piece of an AI 'bot amidst the debris and along with her 'friend' Skip, searches for the rest of it, hoping to improve their fortunes. The aftermath of a tragic mistake yields more pieces, both from the 'bot and from the puzzle of how the world came to be the way it is. With the uneasy company of Berks the vendor, Mona and Markus the Droid make their way to the nearest dome to find some answers and hopefully a better life for all of them. Markus is indeed their golden ticket to an easier life inside the dome, but as always, that's when the real trouble starts.

First off, the setup by the author is terrible. There's lots of terminology that gets dropped in without any frame of reference, leaving you to wonder exactly what's being referred to. You get the general dystopia idea, but the devil's in the details and the writer left the audience in the lurch. Terms like cols, dome-heads, soylent money, hab, etc, don't mean a blasted thing to you in the first four pages. Only reason we even know what a junker does is because it's explained in the blurb.

Lots of telling instead of showing, and even that's pretty choppy, especially with all the constant typos and misused words ('single' instead of 'signal', telling someone their judgment belies intelligent thought when they're making perfect sense). It's like the author constantly wanted to skip through the background exposition as fast as he could, which also means you won't care too much about it, either. And some of it's a bit off-putting: to establish the relationship between the male and female, he ends up being her first lover- a less than wonderful experience for our girl. A little painful, but that's okay; she'd been rougher on herself with her own hand (sic). Not a good sign when an author isn't too interested their own characters.

Some of the scenarios are plain ridiculous: a gate guard is so worried about the disguised droid being a suicide bomber that all Mona has to do is flash him and everything's ok. During this encounter Berks manages to con the guard with a half-truth about a politician's special technology project only to have the man in question show up as if everyone were part of the deal all along. It's not a stretch to put the pieces together, but that's the author's job, not the reader's. The droid also seems capable of emotions and wanting to have sex with girls... not sure why or how, though. Suffice to say it's one of the worst sex scenes you'll read: you'll laugh, you guffaw, you'll shake your head.

One good thing the author works in well are the pop culture references to the past, especially from movies. There's a pretty good scene when Mona tries to explain to Markus about losing touch with humanity by using Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen as an example. He also ties a few threads together and wraps up some loose ends, but not nearly enough.

This one's another example of a passable idea poorly executed. This one should to go back to the drawing board and the author needs some writing classes.