So if you’ve been with me for a while, you know I loved Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. It was a wonderful surprise when the author, Schenck, contacted me with his newest book, Patently Absurd. I am delighted to say that if you loved the clever wit and colorful characters of the other book, you will fall in love with this book.
In the city of Retropolis – which is where the future went, when we got something else – all science is Mad. So scientific laboratories are confined to the city’s Experimental Research District. It’s laid out in the zoning laws, but what it really is, is self-defense.
There’s always the danger that something really awful might happen in the District, though: something so awful that it will escape to the city outside. That’s why the Retropolis Registry of Patents keeps an eye on what the inventors of the District are doing from day to day.
At the Registry you might meet Ben Bowman, a patent investigator who’s smart in at least one or two of the ways that are important, and his friend Violet, the robot secretary. Violet is convinced that she ought to be an investigator herself.
Between you and me, she’s not wrong. But she’s had a terrible time convincing one Patent Registrar after another that they ought to promote her; and, strangely, the Registrars never seem to last very long once they disagree.
Patently Absurd is even more delightful than Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. It has the same wonderful and thoughtful world building – the same detailed inventions and robot touches. But it has the added joy of illustrations. And not only are there illustrations that go along with each story, but also advertisements in between. The whole thing feels like this one cohesive reading experience. Your chair is transported to the future where robots are working in patent offices, and where you’ll find advertisements that are out of your dreams.
The same wry and clever humor is present in this book. It’s only made even more spectacular by our constant companions, Ben and Violet. Violet is my personal favorite because she both defies what I’d expect of a robot, while also conforming to what I’d expect of a robot. For example, she’s manipulative, but also brilliant.
These two unique characters have all sorts of patent related adventures which are woven together by a story thread. I loved the setting of the Patent office and it was full of all sorts of hilarious circumstances and anecdotes including new changes in personnel and frog legs!
Patently Absurd is a fantastic adventure. And I loved being re-immersed in the world of Retropolis. The entire collection both felt familiar and also new. Like visiting the city of your childhood and meeting new friends. I highly recommend if you enjoyed Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom.
Go find Patently Absurd on Goodreads.