Auxiliary: London 2039 by John Richter
Reviewed by P$
**We received an e-copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. We’d like to thank Jon and TCK Publishing for the opportunity. This book came out on May 1st and you can get it here**
Jon Richter’s “Auxiliary: London 2039” was my first review ina minute and I’m hella grateful for that because it was a cool idea, something I don’t normally read, and well done. A:L is a good ol fashioned murder mystery. A quick read but slow burner that was fun to read and real, real, pleasantly weird.
The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind, but a good detective is never obsolete.
London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel.
And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul.
Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.
A chip controlled by TIM.
Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine.
Auxiliary is gripping, unpredictable, and bleakly atmospheric—ideal for fans of cyberpunk classics like the Blade Runner movies, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the Netflix original series Black Mirror.
Dremmler’s job as a cop in 2039 London is managed by TIM, the google/AI/comms system that he and anyone who matters has implanted in their homes and brains. Trust and believe, shit goes haywire. Early. Dremmler has to manage his nagging boss (relatable) , his overzealous wifebot (RT), boozy friends (same), and the brains behind the world’s tech giants en route to figuring out why some bloke’s prosthetic arm froze out. It’s a wild, wild ride.
Reminded me a lot of Scalzi’s “lock in” for pacing as well as infrastructural reasons. A:L isn’t in the same universe but def might be one with overlapping Bermuda triangles. Similarly, A:L made me wonder just what the fuck was going on for a long long time, which I appreciated.
In every chapter there were two-three perfect sentences or images or descriptions that made me reread them, and pause, not because they were hard to understand, but because they were so gorgeous. the book’s short chapters make stepping into and out of the story really easy. an aside: it also felt like the plot could’ve happened anywhere… there wasn’t a lot that tethered me to London. For whatever that’s worth.
Looking back on it, I’m not sure if I wanted A:L to be shorter or longer. I would have loved to see this as a longer novel with more of the world fleshed out. It also could just be a tightrope walk of novella, but that would probably require trimming out some of the great complexity A:L brings to the table, so it might not be worth it. A great problem to have, por supuesto.
Love the inclusion of T. Petrovic (ve/ver), a nonbinary character who had charisma and was respected by other characters. One truly loves to see it. I have to wonder why include verjust to kill ver to advance the plot. Bad enough that the story does that with several women. IDK, tho, basically everybody dies in this story, so maybe I’m stretching.
Rating: 4 shots/5.
Pairing: popeye’s bride. It’s one of those olive oil cocktails you didn’t know were a thing until last week. Because it’s obviously the future, and there’s a weird taste in my mouth but i kinda like it.