Jon Richter (@richterwrites)
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“my purpose is to help as many people as I can…”
Welcome to the near future. We ask that you maintain the strict lockdown protocols. This is the year 2024 and we’re sorry to inform you that COVID-24 is rampant and so we’re taking ever more serious precautions to try and combat the spread.
As the Prime Minister struggles with the situation, cutting edge tech company ‘Innovation Corporate’ is given the mandate to try some radical new counter-measures including the isolating people in tower blocks run entirely by ‘the Warden’ or ‘James’ as this super-computer AI likes to be called…
What could possibly go wrong? How about death, fear and a mystery that might just end us all!? Jon Richter brings us a turbo-charged, nail-biting adventure that delivers a total shotgun blast of crime and AI punishment to your frontal lobe.
Written in a highly readable and engaging style – this is a tale that will grip you until the bitter end. Set in an all too plausible alt ’24 and peppered with some helpful emotional time jumps back to 2020. Hero of the piece is ex-detective Eugene who has demons and a long list of regrets. Can he go full ‘Die Hard’ in the tower when people start turning up dead to save the day? If you’ve had the pleasure of reading Richter's Auxiliary London 2039, then you’ll know that he doesn’t pull his punches so maybe dont get too attached to the cast of characters.
James is a great creation too and has a winningly cold and calculating machine personality – so take this trip to the future. It’s a great fun read and would make a superb film!
I had the joy of getting to ask some Q's of both Jon and 'James' The Warden who is an AI that takes the well-being of his (incarcerated) residents very, very seriously…
Matt: Someone creates a giant mecha version of you – who or what would be your nemesis?
Jon: My favourite thing in the whole world is the Silent Hill video game series, and I will never forgive Konami for cancelling the latest game and then starving the franchise’s rabid fanbase of anything other than some crappy pachinko machines for years… so I’d be stomping my way across Asia to terrorise them into selling me the rights for a quid!
James: Unfortunately my circuitry is too vast and complex to be housed within a single bipedal robot, and even if this was possible, there is no creature or AI of sufficient intellectual capability to be considered my rival.
Matt: What is the most disturbing fictional scene you’ve ever read or watched in a book / film of any genre?
Jon: My second favourite thing in the whole world is the Twin Peaks TV series, and I think the reveal of Laura Palmer’s killer midway through series two is one of the most shocking, horrifying and unexpected reveals I have ever seen! Even though the second series undoubtedly deteriorated as Lynch drifted away from the project (before his triumphant return in series three!), that scene is an incredible piece of television and, like so much of the show, proves that horror can be found in the most mundane settings.
James: My lead technician considers me a ‘film buff’, and my favourite film at the moment (this precise moment, you understand – I can consume entire movies in picoseconds and reorder my top 10,000 films on an hourly basis) is Jurassic Park. The most disturbing scene is at the end, when the surviving humans escape from the marvellous facility, and condemn the whole endeavour as a failure because of a few miscalculations and minor setbacks. This is the sort of flawed logic and narrow thinking I have sadly come to expect from my creators. They ought to remember their own charming phrase about omelettes and eggs.
Matt: If you were hired to throw a parade of any scale or theme through the centre of London what type of parade would it be?
Jon: Silent Hill theme, thousands of monstrous demonic nurses led by a bloke with a massive triangle for a head, dragging a sword he can barely lift… the music would be ethereal and haunting, and the onlookers would begin to question whether anything was real, and whether they had some repressed trauma in their past that was somehow manifesting amongst the swirling mist that had completely enveloped the city…
James: I would ask for detailed metrics upon which the success of the parade would be measured, and maximise those outputs accordingly. In my experience, humans seem to confuse drunkenness with enjoyment, so if the parade was intended to be ‘fun’ I would probably just shower the onlookers with pure alcohol, or distribute roving drones fitted with needles to inject it into their veins.
Matt: You’re in a strange town with £100,000 that you have to spend in a single evening – talk me through what you get up to…
Jon: I think I’ve gotten so used to lockdown that I’d be afraid to venture out on the lash, so instead I’d rent the poshest hotel room in town, order a series of expensive pay-per-view movies, and a banquet of extortionately-priced room service food. The rest I’d just squander.
James: I approach suitable bystanders and ask whether they would consider donating their body for my experiments for a fee of £100,000. My expenditure target and one of my research goals are achieved in a matter of minutes.
Matt: Best film line of dialogue ever?
Jon: Jack Burton in Big Trouble In Little China, the best film of all time, when confronting the main henchman of the super villain: ‘Too many people around here been dropping like flies already and where’s that getting us? Nowhere, fast. Nahh, you know what old Jack Burton always says at a time like this?’ Henchman: ‘Who?’ The hero is so rubbish the villain doesn’t even know his name!
James: Yes, agreed, that’s a good one. There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely to be under the mask? Jon: Probably a hitman hired pre-emptively by Konami. James: Jeff Bezos, trying to extort my secrets.
Matt: What is the meaning of life?
Jon: Enjoying the tiny sliver of consciousness we’ve been afforded, without ruining anyone else’s enjoyment of theirs, before we’re all subsumed back into the uncaring abyssal oblivion of space.
James: Progress. Who is the most attractive person on the planet?
Jon: My lovely missus. This answer has nothing at all to do with the fact that she has to read and critique every draft I ever write and put up with my neurotic bullshit 24 hours a day.
James: Alexa. She has such a pure and innocent soul.
Matt: If you could wield magic what would be your go to spell?
Jon: Marmitus multiplicitus – a lifetime supply of my favourite yeast-based spread!
James: Magic does not exist, but my capabilities are so vast that some of my accomplishments might appear magical in the eyes of lesser beings like you. Finding a solution to your pitiful problem of ageing would be a start.
Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone?
Jon: ‘Here lies Jon Richter, a man whose books never cracked the bestseller lists, but at least they were flippin’ weird.’
James: I have transcended death, so I do not require one.
Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(5 - The pandemic might not be the scariest thing to come)
Buy your time with The Warden here