Pax Machina (Mechhaven Book 1) by Greg Sorber

3.5/ 5 Stars (YA & MG) Mechs and Humans abound in this Sci-Fi adventure

I found this a light read and at its heart quite fun. Whilst it can be enjoyed by all readers I felt it was more suited to an MG or YA audience, at least my fourteen-year-old self would have enjoyed it far more I think than adult me. The science is basic and mostly glossed over if it is explained at all but that is alright, it is not about the science, made-up or otherwise, but the story and setting. Besides, not everyone wants to have their mind blown by pages and pages of scientific explanation on ‘quantum pulse engines’.

It is set far in the future long after humankind has exploited earth’s resources, forcing them out into the big wide galaxy to explore new worlds to meet their ever-expanding needs. Our adventure starts long after space travel has been mastered and where for the most part humanity has devolved into four main groups, the Imperium based on the ancient Roman Empire, The Arcturan Monarchies founded on the ideals from the old Terran middle ages and the Renaissance, The Alliance of Independent Systems (AOIS) a confederation of governments bound together in Trade and Technology and finally, the TexaNova based on you guessed it Texan grit.

The story begins on Mechhaven, shortly after the ending of a galactic war, on an out-of-the-way backwater planetoid set up and established for retired war machines called Mechs. Mechs are sentient AI machines and by claiming asylum and declaring ‘Pax Machina’ they are allowed to live in peace on this rocky dustball, once they have had all their armaments removed,  so they can no longer be a threat. In charge of Mechhaven is Major Misty Durham, a human administrator and two other humans, Ajax and Dennis.

The Mechs are the stars of the show and are a diverse mix of machines each with distinctive personalities often guided by the specialisations they were constructed to perform. It makes it all quite interesting from protocol Mechs to artillery and counter-intelligence to flamers, the whole gambit of humanity’s imagination to rain death down on each other on display. Except they are disarmed and harmless. Mostly.

It was intriguing to see the interactions between them and the conflict it sometimes caused because of their past affiliations, affiliations not so easily forgotten or dismissed.

Into this world comes a new Mech, a super advanced Archangel class tagged Angel by Misty. Angel crashlands on Mechhaven and declares Pax Machina. He is pretty beat up and his memory matrix is damaged so he can’t remember what his mission was before he came to Mechhaven or what drove him here but he knows whatever it was it is important. And so it soon proves, because others are after the intel Angel is carrying and they will get it no matter what the cost.

Okay, so that is the basic premise of the story, I will not ruin the telling by giving spoilers but suffice it to say it is a watershed, moment of truth for all the Mechs on Mechhaven.

I did enjoy reading it. It was competently written with only a few grammatical mistakes. I found the story a little 2-dimensional and linear for my tastes and the premise was quite simple, and,  whilst I enjoyed the Mechs and their different personalities it was also a little weird. They were caricature human personalities which, considering they were programmed and designed by humans and built to serve them, could be argued was understandable. However, why humans would give them male and female gender types I am not so clear on but whatever the reason, it made them likeable and easy to read and empathise with, more so than the humans.

I also thought some of the battle scenes were a little clunky, and whilst extreme violence was done in battle the fact they were machines and not humans made it read not too graphically. Also, there were one or two loose ends that needed to be tidied up which I won’t go into because it would be a bit of a spoiler but it may be that these ‘ends’ will get tidied up in book 2.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I think my 14-year-old self would have lapped this up and enjoyed it immensely, but for me now it did not really do it. It was fun and a quick no-brainer read but not one that will stay with me long.

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