Colt Coltrane and the Lotus Killer, by Allison M. Dickson (40:00)

IOD-ColtColtraneToday we learn that any story can be improved with robots.

What I gleaned about the story: It’s your typical post-war noir thriller with the burned out ex-cop private investigator and his intelligent robot side-kick story.

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Note: Very strong opening scene, which is particularly welcome, since it’s a 1st POV noir style, and not a sign of the galloping I disease yet.

Note: Inconsistent spelling. In the space of two pages, we have the phrase “when I was with the Force,” and “when I was with the force”. I can accept either spelling, but when I see two different versions so close together, it made me wonder if there was a signifying difference between the two. In this case, context made it fairly clear that it was just an editorial glitch, so I moved on without really breaking stride, but if it had persisted, it would have driven me nuts trying to figure out the distinction.

Note: I like the shakedown scene in the dumpster. It feels very appropos for the mood of the story, but the dialogue is a bit traditional. I’d be happier seeing some orginality in that department to go along with the otherwise strong writing.

WTF #1: Past perfect missing

Analysis: I’ve spotted three cases now where things in the deeper past are being stated in the simple past tense and twice it’s confused me into thinking it happened in the “present.” There were also a few other minor issues, such as singular-plural mismatches, but nothing glaring enough to break the immersion until this.

Note: 20 minutes in and at the end of Chapter 1 I’m starting to notice the galloping I disease, but it isn’t quite distracting enough to throw a flag. Yet.

WTF #2: Galloping I disease

Analysis: It finally caught up with me in the middle of Chapter 2. It’s not pervasive, but there are sections where the staccato I, I, I stutter gets a bit thick and the more often I drive past it, the more vigorsouly I crane my head around to look at it as it goes by. This time I stopped the car.

Note: But then I stomped on past the finish line with no further intrusions, so we have another winner. Curiously, the story so far has been an almost text-book repeat of the noir detective format, with the sole exception of apparently sentient robots thrown into this 1940s-era storyline. But that single change in the high-concept was enough to keep me intrigued.

Addendum: After reading the entire book now, I quite enjoyed it. And the robot thing had some fun payoffs.

Forged By Battle, by Patrick J. Loller (4:33)
Queen of Roses, by Elizabeth McCoy (1:54)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.