Top positive review
Unit 23-7 may be more deadly than the original killer A.I.
Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2017
Vaughn Heppner's style requires the hero to overcome innumerable obstacles. And even then death and destruction appear certain. He leaves his protagonist, in this case the mercenary turned commander Jon Hawkins, very little room to maneuver. In "The A.I. Gene," the second in the A.I. series, Hawkins and his Black Anvil Regiment have overcome the the massive robot ship by doing the unexpected and boarding it and fighting their way to the core intelligence. They succeeded but suffered heavy losses. But the win was big. They commandeered the incredibly immense spherical ship. And although it was heavily damaged, the crews have found ways to repair some of the systems. Still, Heppner is Heppner. The good times don't last. The robot of the first book is dead, but it left a thread of its intelligence that spent the subsequent months gathering formidable resources. Unit 23-7 is as evil as anything Heppner has created. The robot intelligence knows enough to infiltrate a remote mining colony in the Kuiper Belt. And although I've delayed mentioning it, that's where the best part of this novel starts, with Walleye and June Zen. Walleye is one of the best characters introduced by Heppner. He's short, ugly and smart. He's also crude and deadly. But he has a code he won't break, and he's loyal to people who treat him nicely. June is a beautiful young woman who is the first to discover the A.I. invasion to her colony. She doesn't know exactly what's happening but confides in Walleye, who she knows is capable of dealing with strange goings on. The two of them barely escape with their lives and go through hell to get away. Heppner could have easily made them victims of the machine aggression. But he thankfully did not. Their thread in this novel is the best, and it eventually intertwines with that of Hawkins, his band of mercenaries and Gloria, his Martian mentalist sidekick. And I've rambled without saying much. But what the hell, I liked this book. And I kept reading.