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Robot God/ Hybrid Brain – Matt Payne

I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway at the end of May 2014, so thought I would bump it up the list to read/review after finishing “Mirror Sight”.

GoodReads Synopsis:

Mind-Bending Short Fiction

-A robot-god experiences time backwards and proselytizes the universe in reverse.

-A magical dog writes mind-destroying fiction.

-A man obsessed with numbers discovers a stream of data from the stars.

-A genetic experiment falls in love with works of art and tries to make love to them.

-Three mysterious figures join together for mutual success… or mutual destruction.

-A brave man travels through a world of perpetual war.

Tales of psychedelic horror, bravery, solidarity, and insanity. Characters who travel to the fringe of experience and dangle you over the edge. Will they pull you back in? Or let you fall… ?

With just 138 pages this is indeed a short story book, which only took a short time to read. There are quite a few stories packed into this little book, all of them a little off the cuff, and indeed “mind-binding” describes some of the stories well.

I have to say that it’s been a while since I read any short story collection; in fact I believe that the last time I did so was in year nine at school, about 10 years ago it would work out to be. Because of this I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and being as though I hadn’t heard of the author, Matt Payne, before it made it both uncertain and refreshing at the same time.

So, onwards and upwards with the book itself.

There are running themes throughout the book of technology, destruction, science and experiments and a touch of religion too. That’s quite a bit for a series of short stories! Some of it, I would suggest, is better executed and thought out than others – for instance, the story that the book is named after “Robot God/ Hybrid Brain,” which also happened to be one of the longest of the stories as well, another was “Ghost Dog Writer” and “Demon Numbers”, all of these I thought would serve well as fleshed out stories as they were definitely unique, and would certainly be something that I would be interested in reading.

The relation between technology and destruction was interesting especially how the author portrays the different ways that it brought the downfall of the characters. “War as a Machine” carries the stark warning of mixing technology in war; robots killing everything in their way, the dehumanisation of people in that sort of situation, the futility of Colonel Gasp as his mission to deliver a letter.

It’s worth talking about the endings of some of the stories – I did think a few of them were a bit abrupt, or a little like “All was well” and we’ll forget the murderous tendencies the characters showed just a few paragraphs previous [Real Hector, Flocking Shrouds], and others that ended perfectly [Ghost Dog Writer, Trolling Racoons (a little over two pages), Banana Egg Dihydroxybenzene (perfect allegory to how we see out mobile phones, actually).
There are some dark themes throughout this book, and also a lot of mention of drugs which wasn’t all that relevant – like the stories would have been just as good without the mention/ use of drugs.

In all, I think if you’re in need of a quick break, and want to take a “mind-bending” trip into the author’s brain/story then give this short story collection a read. It’s utterly strange, sometimes a little awkwardly written, but actually, it’s one of those books that has made me think about reality, and about how we see ourselves, and everything around us.

Thank you to GoodReads/ Matt Payne for choosing me as the winner and allowing me to experience this novel!

Take it easy folks,

Kialtho

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