Jake hears voices, always has. They've never been a problem as long as he kept them to himself. While on a writing assignment to cover an A.I. convention, Jake reads the paper of a Dr. Sewall. What he discovers is puzzling, incomprehensible, maybe even impossible. Jake visits Dr. S after the convention and finds his creation, Rex - which looks like a bowl of gray-green oatmeal - whose voice somehow mingles with voices Jake has heard all his life. So begins an affair of impossible science. The world becomes funny right on the edge of fearful, the cosmic goof at large, and growing larger...
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
This book continues my ongoing mission to read outside my usual crime fiction genre of choice. I mention this only to clarify that I am reviewing this book on its own merits rather than as a comparison to its genre peers. I am not sure how much difference this makes but I feel I should mention the fact.
Right. Where do I start. Our hero in this book is Jake. A rather interesting character to say the least. One that has, from an early age, heard voices. He goes on to explain that they are not the sort to compel him to do bad stuff, just voices. He also learned, from quite an early age, to keep this snippet of information to himself. He is a writer, mostly articles in magazines, mostly covering sciencey things. His attention is brought to one Dr Sewell when he covers an AI convention. Failing to hear much of what Sewell speaks about at the convention, he does a bit of research and his interest is very much piqued by what he subsequently reads. Determined to find out more and indeed meet the man, he tracks him down and finds his target in a rather unusual place in the university. What he discovers there surprises him in the form of "Rex", a bowl of what looks like oatmeal but who has a voice, a voice which mingles with those he already hears. What exactly is Rex? As Jake learns more from Sewell, it appears that "Rex" is evolving quite rapidly, and what happens next defies the logical, defies the credible, but nonetheless becomes swiftly possible, with somewhat devastating consequences for many.
I am not sure how I would describe this book. I personally found it totally satisfying albeit a bit bonkers. But then I am a big fan of bonkers! One thing I really did love in all that was going on was Jake himself. I see a lot of myself in him. His going off at tangents, the way he makes up whole narratives about stuff based on supposition, filling in gaps with fiction to suit the facts. I loved the humour involved in his musings; very entertaining. I sympathised with him when he lost his girlfriend, caught up in the whole sorry mess of things. I was impressed with his determination and tenacity to get to the crux of things when walking away was the easy option. Sewell on the other hand was caught up in things from a very different direction and he played the out of depth-ness very well as a character. One of my favourite parts of the book were the things that "Rex" became responsible for. Can't help reading between the lines here and seeing the political undertones that may or may not have been meant. There was definitely a lot for me to think about once I had finished the book.
All in all a well written read that kept my interest solidly throughout. I am fully aware that maybe I have missed some elements of the book not being an aficionado of the genre but for me it ticked most of the boxes I want from a good read and left me satisfied at the end. A job well done by the author.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. ~ Kath Brink , NetGalley
What I found most notable about this book was the way the author's voice carried through. This is a science fiction story with a creative plot, but I was most engaged by the humor and satirical take the author had in this topic.
Well worth a read for science fiction fans and those seeking a good book. ~ JD DeHart, NetGalley
If Saul Bellow had written science fiction, it might read like Michael Strelow’s Some Assembly Required: erudite and allusive, delighting in language, but also wildly funny and entertaining. A page-turning meditation on the multiplicity of voices each of us carries - those we use to reach out to others, those that exist only in our heads - this novel illuminates the beautiful and mysterious transformation that occurs when we listen carefully, turning all the noise that surrounds us into harmony. ~ Scott Nadelson, author
Praise for author's previous novel: Michael Strelow has given Northwest Readers an amazing fable for our time and place featuring Ben Brown, a utility lineman who transforms into th Green Man following an industrial accident. Eco-hero and prophet the Green Man heads a cast of wonderful and zany characters who fixate over sundry items from filberts to hubcaps... Fascinating, humorous and wise, The Greening of Ben Brown deserves its place on bookshelves along with other Northwest classics. ~ Craig Lesley, Book Jacket