The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport

Liz Braswell brings a captivating twist to the famous folktale of Aladdin and the lamp in her novel, “The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport” (Tordotcom, 416 pages, $28.99). Samit Basu takes readers on a technologically transformed journey, transporting the story from a mythical city to a decaying, futuristic metropolis on a fabulous world inhabited by both humans and robots of various shapes and sizes.

A Unique Perspective

The narrative in the book primarily unfolds through the eyes and consciousness of Moku, an ancient “story-bot” equipped with mind-reading abilities and an intelligent journaling system. However, Moku’s role as a passive observer is disrupted when he becomes an active participant in the lives of his new owners – Lina, a young human, and her robot monkey brother, Bador.

Courageous Heroes

Lina, beautiful and resourceful, operates a tour bus in the city of Shantiport while covertly constructing a resistance network aimed at liberating the oppressed inhabitants. Picture Jasmine from Disney’s “Aladdin,” but with intricate schemes and less emphasis on her midriff. Lina’s adversaries include an interplanetary trade guild harboring animosity towards her world and the corrupt Tiger Clan, who rule the city for their own gain.

A Monkey with Dreams

Bador, initially designed by Lina’s father to be an integral part of the family, deliberately assumes the appearance and behavior of a monkey as a testament to his AI self-determination. His ultimate aspiration is to engage in televised bot-on-bot battles against colossal monsters, emerge victorious, and bid farewell to Shantiport forever.

The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport

Lina and Bador, two siblings on a mission to find their late father’s powerful ring, are not alone in their pursuit. Antim, a notorious figure in Shantiport, is also after the same artifact and may be implicated in their father’s demise. But there’s more than just a ring at stake; they uncover a lamp-shaped techno-gadget that houses an extraordinary AI known as the jinn-bot.

Upon acquiring this wondrous device, Lina, Bador, and their mother pause to ponder the limitless possibilities that come with possessing an all-powerful jinn. This pause in action temporarily interrupts the thrilling monkey-bot escapades, including an epic battle against the gargantuan Roc, a formidable bird-monster. It feels somewhat out of place—a slightly forced interlude.

Nevertheless, this book embarks on an exhilarating adventure filled with awe-inspiring spectacles. The witty banter provided by the wisecracking monkey-bot and an occasional zinger from Moku enrich the narrative. And for those seeking a thorough scientific explanation, let us remember Arthur C. Clarke’s insightful maxim: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In “The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport,” the characters acknowledge the invisible AI orchestrating events while reveling in the enchanting qualities of their lamps and rings—slivers of pure enchantment.

Sibling Quest

Lina and Bador undertake a daring quest to retrieve their late father’s powerful ring, a mission shared by the malevolent Antim, a prominent figure in Shantiport suspected of foul play. However, their encounter with a lamp-shaped techno-gadget housing an extraordinary AI, the jinn-bot, transcends the importance of the ring.

A Momentary Pause

Amidst their thrilling adventures with the mischievous monkey-bot and a monumental clash against the Roc, Lina, Bador, and their mother find themselves contemplating the immense potential bestowed upon them by the jinn-bot. This contemplation momentarily disrupts the action-packed narrative, leaving a sense of interruption.

A Riot of Spectacle

“The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport” takes readers on an enthralling journey brimming with mesmerizing displays. The humorous exchanges between the monkey-bot and the occasional sparkling remarks from Moku enhance the story’s vibrancy.

Beyond Logic

For those yearning for meticulous scientific explanations, Arthur C. Clarke’s immortal words echo: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In this tale, characters acknowledge the hidden AI orchestrating events while surrendering themselves to the enchanting allure of their lamps and rings—a captivating manifestation of otherworldly enchantment.

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