Perihelion by William F. Wu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the conclusion to the six book Robot City series and I, for one, found it fairly satisfying. Robot City hasn’t been the best written series I’ve ever read. Perhaps part of the reason is that most of the books were written by different authors, which is an unusual way to go about writing a series. It’s lacked in some ways. The last two books, in particular, I thought were quite bad. But the idea behind the series was original and I appreciated that, and so I continued reading. And I’m glad I did.
In this book, Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, and Wolruf find themselves back in Robot City after their horrible time on Earth and they’re searching for the insane Dr. Avery, who has infected Derec with a disease in which “chemfets” have infected his system and, as a result, a miniature Robot City is literally growing inside him and it is killing him. He is weak and needs to sleep all the time and he is in a lot of pain. Meanwhile, Ariel has been cured of the Amnemonic plague and is slowing regaining her memory. That’s good, because she really carries Derec in this book.
When they descend the pyramid they landed on with the Key of Perihelion, Derec and Ariel are immediately accosted by a Hunter robot who attempts to take them captive. In fact, they don’t see too many robots at all. Robot City has changed since they were last there and they come to realize Dr. Avery has reprogrammed the robots somehow for some unknown reason. He’s taken their personalities and creativity away from them and has installed a new “migration” program for all humanoid robots to follow, leaving just a few robots to keep the city running.
The four of them escape the Hunter robot, but more Hunters appear, so they flee. They eventually escape to a warehouse where they hide out. Meanwhile, their old former cyborg friend, Jeff, from a previous book, returns to the planet with a big spaceship, since he owes them a favor, presumably to get them off planet and help save their lives. He knows they’ll be glad to see him. He lands in the middle of the city and is immediately accosted by Hunter robots. He’s stunned. He, too, can see Robot City has changed. Mandelbrot had been able to determine a ship was landing with a human in it, so he takes a truck to the ship in an effort to save him. He does and brings him back to the warehouse. They all swap information and it turns out Jeff had met Dr. Avery through his professor father a few years back. Also, Ariel’s mother had been a big contributor to Dr. Avery’s funds when it came to building Robot City. Derec is too weak to really join in. They decide they have to find Dr. Avery quickly to get him to save Derec’s life, but where to look? They do a scan and find crop fields in the hills outside the city. They decide that must be where Avery is hiding out, so they decide to head there. They decide Mandelbrot and Wolruf should take off separately to act as decoys so the humans can take off in the spaceship and somehow get to the crops to look for Avery.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending, but there’s a lot of action and a lot of tension and they do eventually find Avery and all of the mysteries are finally explained. And there are some real shocking surprises at the end of the book. Frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of the final few pages. This isn’t a five star book, but I think it’s a fairly four star effort. I’m glad I ended up giving this series a chance. For some quick, lightweight sci fi — recommended.