The Punch Escrow

32446949“A new era if human evolution, defined by a double cheeseburger.”

Author: Tal M. Klein
Category: Science Fiction
Pages: 319
Publication Date: July 25th, 2017

Don’t forget to check out this week’s podcast episode!
In this futuristic story, teleportation is as common as hailing a cab. Joel is on his way to Costa Rica for his 10th anniversary with his wife when he gets cloned by an accident with a teleportation center. What follows is a race to find his wife before a company or a group of zealots capture them.

The world-building is done very well. The future technology is so realistic and fits with what is possible for our real future (unfortunately, this does not appear to include flying cars). From how cars work to the comms in everyone’s head, the tech is cool and interesting to hear about.

Better yet, it is presented with minimal exposition! This isn’t a long book but there is a decent amount of information to convey regarding how technology and culture have evolved in 130 years. Most of the setup for the near-future earth is done in a series of a few scenes where Joel is trying to get from Point A to Point B and so the reader is taken through a day in the life of a future human for a few chapters. There are footnotes that do contain exposition but those are really just going deeper into concepts that are introduced in the story and aren’t necessary for the story telling but do add the reader”s immersion into this version of Earth.

There is nothing worse than a boring lead character, but thankfully Joel is not that. He is witty, and very snarky at times. He isn’t a super strong or fit guy but when it comes to the woman he loves, he will punch and fight his way to her. Even the parts where he gets a little heavy with the exposition, his personality makes it fun.

The overall plot is fun and gets pretty philosophical, questioning how much power should humanity have over life. The struggle to further science is brought into question on where we should draw the line. There are two Joels existing where they should only be one but which one is the “real” one? It is an intriguing subject that the author does well in bring this to light.

There where a few negatives that we had with this book, though.

Most of the story is a conflict between IT (the people that have built and control the Teleportation Centers) and the Gehinnomites (an ultra-religiious group that believes that teleportation is a sign that humans are trying to play God). However, there is a third group called the Levanites that felt very out of place. The characters that are involved with that group drive a lot of the events of the storyline but it is very confusing on what their motive was.

Finally, this book was one chapter too long. The story was wrapped up pretty well and then there was an extra chapter that took each and every little thing in the story and tried to wrap it up in a neat little bow and it was just too much. The chapter before ended on the perfect note.

There were weird plot points as well but those go into spoiler territory. If you would like to hear our spoiler-full review go listen to our podcast!

Greg’s Thoughts

I honestly picked this book up because I listen to audio books a lot. The narrator for this one is a awesome actor that I like and I got excited to listen to it. Matthew Mercer did a great job and I would love if he did more audio books. ( As long as it doesn’t take him away from the D&D show that he does)

I enjoyed this book even of there were a few plot holes that didn’t fit very well. Joel was a fun character and snarky jerks are some of my favorite.

My biggest complaint is that this book is one chapter to long. It ended well and tied up the story in a great way. Then the last one comes in a kind of tease a sequel and I don’t want that for this. It was a perfect one-off story and I hope it stays that way.


7-liked it

Dani’s 2¢

I had pretty low expectations going into this so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I really like the realistic expectations of what society will look like in just over a century. Some of the tech brought up is actually based on existing tech. The example that has the biggest impact on the plot is Amazon Glacier. I loved how real things are brought into a sci fi book in a way other than “Oh look at these primitive 21st century humans…how quaint!”

Something that didn’t take up a lot of page time but that bothered me anyway was the subject of corporations taking over governments.

Now, this isn’t a unique idea in sci fi. I have seen it in other books and I find it an intriguing idea. However, in this book it was introduced in a somewhat “good” light. It is mentioned that legal systems and police forces became privatized and that “people generally found it to be efficient” and that these corporations pretty much provide basic food and income for people, the idea being that if people don’t have to worry about that they will spend more on other stuff.

This runs so entirely contrary to how most corporations actually work that I was really disappointed that the whys and hows of this wasn’t gone into further. I’m not saying that it should have taken up much more space in this book but if it is going to be included in a light that is different than pretty much any other narrative, I would like to see just a little bit more depth. Either that or it should have just left it at “corporations took over, that’s why no law enforcement is stepping in to this situation” and call it a day.


6-it was good

2 thoughts on “The Punch Escrow

Add yours

  1. Hi guys, thanks for reviewing the book! Dani, re: the corporations thing, the next novel will dive a bit deeper into The Last War and the rise of corporatocracy in the late 21st century. I’m also writing a short contributed piece (that I’ll point you to when published) which I hope will edify my perspective on why corporatoracy ≠ dystopia (not because it’s utopia, mind).


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