by Mark Tiedemann
Review by Ann Cecil

Mirage is labeled an Isaac Asimov's Robot Mystery, but it's actually a very entertaining book. We're in the future, the world of positronic robots, but not quite to the "Caves of Steel" time. Humanity has spread out to the stars; there are Spacers and Settlers, as well as Earther factions. Spacers are those from colonies like Aurora and Solaris; Settlers are from near Earth habitats.

The book starts with a conference, where Earther representatives are meeting with Spacers, to reconcile and rebuild relations, and incidentally restore positronic robots to Earth. Mia Daventri is a trained Special Service agent, security for the Earther Senator. Part of her team includes a special case positronic robot named Bogard.

Disaster strikes: most of the Spacer delegation is gunned down, as is the Earther Senator and his Special Service staff, except for Mia, who is wounded but not killed. She is saved at least partly thanks to Bogard, who takes on guarding her as a top priority.

This is a world where Asimov's three laws rule; Bogard will meltdown, if he is forced to confront his failure to protect the Senator. Keeping Mia alive is a distraction that allows Bogard to function.

Helping to solve the mystery is Bogard's creator, Derec Avery, and Calvin Institute attache Ariel Burgess. Together they work to penetrate the conspiracy and save the world. There is lots of action, several neat twists, and a sad but realistic conclusion.

This book is a genuine page-turner, with believable characters, a well-constructed plot, and lots of tension. The robot, Bogard is particularly well done, quite as charming as R. Daneel Olivaw, or even Mr. Data.

I highly recommend this book! And now for the extra good news: Mark Tiedemann will be in Pittsburgh, October 7th, signing at Barnes & Noble, Squirrel Hill at 1pm. It turns out, according to the flyer, that Mirage is the first in a trilogy (it stands alone just fine!); next will be Chimera, and then Aurora. I plan to be at B&N to get my copy of Mirage signed, and ask Mark for teasers about the next two books!

This book is available in the PARSEC Library.
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