Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review: The Technician

I was up until 2am last night, unable to put down my friend Casey Muratori's new book, The Technician.

It's a really fun and quick read, with a little something for everyone. It mixes together equal parts action, comedy, tear-jerking and interesting characters and still manages to have something to say.

The book introduces us to Michael, a government operative who is very good at what he does, which is mostly killing people. Michael is good at what he does because he has an Aspergers-like attention to detail coupled with a detachment from any level of connection with the people around him (especially those he's putting bullets in).

While Michael doesn't care much for people, he cares very much for his collection of cats. This becomes a problem because he can't be trotting around the globe assassinating people if he needs to be home in time to give his cats their specific regimen of meds and vittles.

In order to keep Michael productively destructive, the government agrees to hire him an assistant to help care for his cats. There's a good bit of hilarity here when the government automatons are thrown out of their comfort zone in doing something as routine as hiring a pet-sitter.

The fun really gets going when Michael decides that if an assistant is ok, then there's no reason that he can't commandeer other government resources for the purpose of helping local strays, whether it be night-vision googles, or, say, a spy satellite.

The book will produce both laughs and tears, and is a page turner in both cases. Casey uses the backdrop to make a point about the way we treat both people and animals, and as an indictment of all who justify doing things they believe are morally wrong by playing the role of 'small cog in a big machine' - the key assertion being that we always have a choice.

The Technician

As an aside, I can't help but recall a conversation Casey and I had a few years back while I was doing XBLA business development at Microsoft and he discussing an upcoming indie game project. We were discussing a few of the changes to the distribution terms that Casey had heard were going into effect, and I was saying while I didn't like them, the decision had been made above my head and that I didn't have a choice in the matter. Can you guess what he told me?

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