Don’t you comprehend by now that they don’t feel guilt or pity? Control was built as an incorruptable arbiter, a trustworthy leader…

Kenstibec was engineered to build a new world, designed to work in construction with no human desires to do anything else. Now he is a taxi driver. In a future broken Britain, he takes fares across land no one else would dare go. His latest job; to drive a journalist from the Edinburgh barricade to London, it will prove to be his toughest yet.

Imagine if you set an artificial intelligence the task of protecting your country. Imagine if humans are the biggest threat to that country. Barricade shows us a bleak future where no parameters were set to safeguard the protection of the human race. Once Control had finished protecting the borders, it went to war against the very people who made it.

Told from the perspective of one of the artificial life forms, it soon becomes clear that whilst they look like humans, the Ficials aren’t human. They are lacking emotions and empathy, the destruction of one of their kind, does not register as something they should be upset about. They were not built to care. Flashbacks to Kenstibec’s past reveal several scenarios where they just do not react the same way as us, that we shouldn’t expect them to think like us either.

The introduction of Starvie, a female designed as a pleasure model, worried me a little at first. There is one point where they wish to hand her over as a distraction to be used. Neither her or Kenstibec see this as a problem, it’s what she was made for. Yet in the end, she turns out to be a more complex, kick ass character and does the job of highlighting how different they are. Fatty, their human companion has to become their moral compass, when his is set pretty low to start with.

Our kind is incapable of thinking rationally, or cooperating to solve problems. We were always going to destroy each other, with or without my creation.

The flashbacks also show how the war between Reals and Ficials started and how, in the beginning, there was a goal for something better. Yet the Britain in the pages is diseased and polluted. Fatty is on his last legs, suffering from an illness name Blue Frog which is slowly destroying his body, and turning him blue. Of course, his repulsive state solicits no sympathy from the Ficials.

It’s a brutal future. I loved the world building but it’s not a book that’s easy to read in small portions as it takes a while to get back into it. I would advise on giving yourself some time over to reading it in one go.

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Also reviewed @ For Winter Nights

Book Source: Purchased