Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Book review: Bug Park

Today's book review is Bug Park by James P. Hogan.

This is a complete story and as far as I can tell not connected to any other books.  It is YA, both in the sense of not having any explicit "adult" material and also, sadly, in the sense of not quite bothering to write a plot and characters up to the standards of an adult novel.

The tech speculation is somewhat interesting.  We have one major McGuffin which is a little hard to swallow as an invention that seemingly sprang fully developed from the brow of Zeus, but is fairly believable as something that could develop incrementally, plus we assume some rapid advances in the world of millimeter-scale machines that I think defy physics.  Ultimately, it's a fair taste of just how useful and powerful robots the size of bugs would be, but rather lacking in imagination in just how important the main McGuffin would actually be.  But it's all kind of fun.  The weakness of the novel is in the motivations and actions of some of the characters; the villains are oversimplified considerably, and the heroes do things they shouldn't get away with but then by a lucky chance the bad guys get their comeuppance.

There is some hint of the ranting against scientific orthodoxy that has spoiled several of Hogan's recent books, but it's much less extreme and doesn't get in the way of the story.

Amusing for the most part, but disappointing, because if he'd put as much attention into making the corporate/financial shenanigans that are important to the plot realistic and the plot solid as he did into the tech, it could have been really good.  6 out of 10.


Eric is the brilliant but out of touch scientist who invents a way to plug the human nervous system directly into a computer, which he uses as a control mechanism for robots generally the size of bugs.  Kevin is his boy-wonder son who's really good at programming and operating the robots.  Vanessa is the gold-digging bitch who married Eric just before he quit the Big Evil Corporation and took the DNC patents with him.  Jack was her previous husband, who had the proof that the corp was running a disinformation campaign to sabotage Eric's company.  They paid him off, but then he came back looking for more, so they offed him.  And having committed one murder, Vanessa now feels it's more urgent to advance her evil plans, so she's going to kill Eric, after surreptitiously changing the will.  But Kevin and his friend Taki serendipitously catch her when she accidentally takes one of their robots with her when she goes on a date with the evil CEO.  Some fairly predictable derring-do ensues.  Vanessa and CEO steal Eric's car and escape, but then she, driving, pokes herself on her own mini killer robot (which the kids had managed to disable with their own mini robots a few hours previously) and gives herself a heart attack just as she was driving up to a drawbridge that was just opening... and the villains blow up and sink into the ocean.  The kids connect with their girlfriends, and all of them are involved in the new VR amusement park on a tabletop at the end of the book.
Tags: book review, james p hogan, sf
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