Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Telefax Box by Toni Seger

As technology develops humanity's fears of being replaced by machines increases. Science fiction novels and films have explored this theme many times over. From Isaac Asimov's "I Robot" to the Cylons in "Battlestar Galactica" we have been entertained by all manner of artificial intelligence. The Telefax Box by Toni Seger takes things a step further. Book One of The Telefax Trilogy is a political and social satire that incorporates themes of man versus machine with a large cast of diverse aliens.

Atla II, the sixth planet in the Drexia System, known as Central Command Laboratory, is home to the Machine, a God like computer that controls and documents everything that goes on. Druscan, a Tertian from Central Command, is vacationing on a gambling asteroid. He meets Llona, a Samerac, who convinces him to be her gaming partner. They are playing against Mishta, a Zanton and Toja, a Scroge, who sports scaly, flakey skin. When Toja's dead body is discovered, Druscan is questioned. Meanwhile a second death occurs at a well-secured lab at Central Command. Sudbury, a Borck scientist, who is developing functional machinery, is murdered but the Machine has no record of it. Some believe the Machine made a mistake but that amounts to blasphemy. The mystery deepens and the various species must overcome their culturally biased attitudes to solve it.

Those looking for action scenes will be disappointed. This story is all about the mystery and intrigue. The plot is propelled by Seger's well-written dialogue. Her strengths lie in world building and character creation. Her galaxy is populated with many different races that adhere to a strict social hierarchy that is rife with prejudice. Their deeply ingrained and established attitudes influence their behavior. There are Zantons, creatures with elongated limbs who hold powerful positions, aquatic Taborites who live in tanks and Sameracs, blue and beautiful, but at the bottom of society because they are anti-machine. Not to mention the Quamats, Tostians, Gulms, Storts and Borcks. With so many bizarre species to track, it's tough to find a protagonist to empathize with, although chief investigator, Eola, is probably the most sympathetic. The Telefax Trilogy is an ambitious undertaking, a provocative story that sometimes plods along, but is ultimately an entertaining and worthwhile read. There's a satisfying conclusion that sets things up nicely for future books. It's a promising beginning and I look forward to reading more.

Publisher: Custom Books Publishing (March 31, 2008)
ISBN: 978-1434841841
Paperback: 230 Pages
Price: $15.00

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