One of the most intriguing sci-fi books I have read recently is “Dead Mech” (Apex Trilogy) by Jake Bible.
I read a lot of sci-fi. About one book a week. Thanks to my Kindle I get instant sci-fi gratification. Once in a while there are books that hit your brain like a sledge-hammer. Dead Mech certainly did that to me! It was an emotional ride and I experienced a thrilling mix of fear, anger, happiness and sadness while reading. This was also the first Drabble Novel I have read and I really enjoy the fast-paced 100-word per paragraph format.
Dead Mech was recommended to me by a friend (thanks Niclas!) who is an avid sci-fi reader. He texted me and said, “Download Dead Mech now!”. So I did. I am pretty gullible when it comes to sci-fi and it usually takes me only a chapter or two to get into a story but after reading one page of Dead Mech I was hooked! Zombies, apocalypse, neural interfaces, cage fighters and mechwarriors. It had everything I ever wanted in one book.
But there was one sentence on page 20 that hit me like a ton of bricks, I felt heat flow up my spine…I could see it, smell it, feel it…I was there:
The dead mech burst from the crevice, exploding chunks of rock in its wake. It quickly gained its footing on the valley floor, its one arm raised and glowing ready for battle
It seems in retrospect that this book was written specifically for me. My favorite computer game of all time is MechWarrior. I had my computer system customized for the game: Microsoft SideWinder controller, color coded keyboard, large screen and professional headphones. I played the MechWarrior series for days. There was one Saturday evening many years ago I played without headphones and the police knocked on the door asking what was going on? I explained to them that I was currently engaged in a big battle in a recently upgraded Timber Wolf (Mad Cat) mech. They looked at me funny, asked me to put on headphones and left.
It would be decades after the restructuring of human society before records were found declaring that the virus that caused the zombie apocalypse was not the first. It wasn’t even the second.
Although Mechs are cool, zombies are fascinating as they epitomize the most basic uncontrolled animal instinct in us. Most books I have read about zombies portray them rather comically, as walking dead brain eaters, and I was intrigued when Jake portrayed them as partially functional beings that could evolve.
Essential to a mech’s operation was a modified Reaper chip which allowed the pilot to have near complete cerebral integration with all of the mech’s systems, creating response times of nanoseconds. The mech became a fifty ton extension of the pilot’s reflexes. Pilots didn’t think, they acted. No one foresaw that a mech could become a fifty-ton extension of a zombie.
The chip was an early detection device of virus infection but served also as a human/machine neural interface for the Mech pilots. But they had to turn the chip’s brain scrambling function off to interface properly with the Mech. Making Mech Zombies possible. And here is when it all came together for me. Zombie Mechs…f@#$ing ingenious!
So there you have it! All this from the first 20 pages. Mechs piloted by humans battling Mechs piloted by zombies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The characters are cool, the story flows effortlessly and all you have to do is hang on for the ride. There are very few books that I re-read but this is one of them.