The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein

September 14, 2017
The Punch Escrow, Tal M. Klein, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Geek & Sundry on July 25, 2017
Format Read: ARC Edition (319 pages)
Genre: Science-Fiction/ Thriller/ Humor
Series: Standalone
Source: Giveaway Win
Rating: FOUR STARS
The Punch Escrow
~Amazon~
It's the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We've genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure... Arrival... Delight!

Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980's new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he's accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.

VERDICT:

REVIEW:

I didn't know what to expect from a futuristic hard sci-fi thriller. However I was pleasantly surprised with the good pacing and humor. It is hard to find books that bend genre's in a workable way but this book  did. The protagonist Joel's sarcasm and relatable reactions to things balanced out a book that included foot notes on futuristic world history.  The world building was fantastic, because every time I wondered how that would actually work, it would be followed by an explanation. The world building read well because the writing was good, it never read like filler or rushed exposition.
The characters in this book include a multi-faceted travel agent, Yoel (Joel's double), an ancient cult leader and a mad scientist. The characters were realistic and flowed together and apart nicely. Joel's epic journey to find himself  and survive the people who each want to use him for his own agenda included action, banter and romance. Hard scif-fi does not have to be boring, this book tells a human story in a future world where humans can upgrade themselves into something else entirely.
"Even if I were capable of gauging my state of mind objectively, I could only determine such things in retrospect."
The short cliff hanger and song titled chapters kept me engaged and made me wish this was a trilogy. I liked the book so much I was able to read a chapter that was left on the editing room floor (thanks Mr. Klein). The use of footnotes was done sparingly, but it would have helped the whole book stay in line with it's hard sci-fi know it all feel, if the author used them throughout. I don't know what the future of teleportation will be, but this gave some really cool imagery and ideas of how it could work. I would recommend this to fans of awesome hard sci-fi thrillers with humor and heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tal M. Klein, author and musician, was born in Israel, grew up in New York, and currently lives in the Detroit area with his wife and two daughters. When she was five years old, his daughter Iris wrote a book called I'm a Bunch of Dinosaurs that went on to become one of the most successful children's book projects on Kickstarter --something that Tal explained to Iris by telling her, "your book made lots of kids happy." Iris then asked Tal, "Daddy, why don't you write a book that makes lots of grownups happy?" Tal mulled this over for a few years, and eventually wrote his first book, The Punch Escrow. It won the Inkshares Geek & Sundry Hard Science Fiction publishing contest, and was the first book published on Legendary Entertainment's Geek & Sundry imprint. The film rights for The Punch Escrow have been acquired by Lionsgate. James Bobin (Flight of The Conchords, The Muppets) has been attached to adapt and direct.  Twitter

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