Finished The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein. I received a copy for review.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure… Arrival… Delight!
Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-fifth century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.
Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.”
This was compared to Ready Player One, and do not believe that; the two are incredibly different. I really enjoyed this one, too; it’s just that Ready Player One was so much fun and I didn’t have that same experience with this. It’s incredibly entertaining but in a different way. (There are a few music references but it wasn’t the constant pop culture delight of RP1.) I just wanted to get that out of the way, because I was so excited for this because I’ve been waiting for something like that. Instead, this is an incredibly scientific novel. It’s so smart and it made me feel smarter for reading it. And there are footnotes to explain the science. (I eventually got lost and skipped them; it didn’t affect my enjoyment.)
I love Joel and he’s really funny and at the same time, just over his head in this insane scenario where pretty much everyone wants to use him for various reasons and at the same time, nobody would be too upset if he ended up dead. (And there’s an existential element, too, because now that he’s got a clone, which of them is really Joel? Are either of them real?)
This book is fantastic and you should definitely read it. But it’s not like anything I’ve ever read and it’s probably going to be unique for you, too. Recommended.