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Ferrett Steinmetz's quirky, genre-mashing cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload a high-octane adventure about a grizzled mercenary with machine gun arms who unexpectedly falls in love with a bio-engineered assassin In the near-future, automation is king, and Mat is the top mercenary working the black market. He's your solider's solider, with military-grade weapons instead of Ferrett Steinmetz's quirky, genre-mashing cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload a high-octane adventure about a grizzled mercenary with machine gun arms who unexpectedly falls in love with a bio-engineered assassin In the near-future, automation is king, and Mat is the top mercenary working the black market. He's your solider's solider, with military-grade weapons instead of arms...and a haunted past that keeps him awake at night. On a mission that promises the biggest score of his life, he discovers that the top secret shipment he's been sent to guard is not a package, but a person: Silvia. Silvia is genetically-altered to be the deadliest woman on the planet--her only weakness is her panic disorder. When Mat decides to free her, both of them become targets of the most powerful shadow organization in the world. They go on the lam, determined to stop a sinister plot to create more super assassins like Silvia. Between bloody gunfights, rampant car chases and drone attacks, Mat and Silvia team up to survive...and unexpectedly realize their messed up brain-chemistry cannot overpower their very real chemistry. Automatic Reload is the genre's most unexpectedly heartfelt romantic comedy with explosions, perfect for fans of both Die Hard and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. "Steinmetz has mixed fast-paced shoot-em-up violence with a compassionate treatment of trauma and mental illness to create an engaging page-turner. Like Shadowrun with a conscience."-- Hugo Award-winning author Jim. C Hines "Automatic Reload is for everyone who ever wished the Transformers movies were less Michael Bay, more transformation sequences; it luxuriates in the intricate beauty that is technology, exults in the mechanics of cyberpunk. And it does all this while being a rom-com with a lot of explosions." --Cassandra Khaw, finalist for the British Fantasy and Locus Awards for Hammers on Bone


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Ferrett Steinmetz's quirky, genre-mashing cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload a high-octane adventure about a grizzled mercenary with machine gun arms who unexpectedly falls in love with a bio-engineered assassin In the near-future, automation is king, and Mat is the top mercenary working the black market. He's your solider's solider, with military-grade weapons instead of Ferrett Steinmetz's quirky, genre-mashing cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload a high-octane adventure about a grizzled mercenary with machine gun arms who unexpectedly falls in love with a bio-engineered assassin In the near-future, automation is king, and Mat is the top mercenary working the black market. He's your solider's solider, with military-grade weapons instead of arms...and a haunted past that keeps him awake at night. On a mission that promises the biggest score of his life, he discovers that the top secret shipment he's been sent to guard is not a package, but a person: Silvia. Silvia is genetically-altered to be the deadliest woman on the planet--her only weakness is her panic disorder. When Mat decides to free her, both of them become targets of the most powerful shadow organization in the world. They go on the lam, determined to stop a sinister plot to create more super assassins like Silvia. Between bloody gunfights, rampant car chases and drone attacks, Mat and Silvia team up to survive...and unexpectedly realize their messed up brain-chemistry cannot overpower their very real chemistry. Automatic Reload is the genre's most unexpectedly heartfelt romantic comedy with explosions, perfect for fans of both Die Hard and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. "Steinmetz has mixed fast-paced shoot-em-up violence with a compassionate treatment of trauma and mental illness to create an engaging page-turner. Like Shadowrun with a conscience."-- Hugo Award-winning author Jim. C Hines "Automatic Reload is for everyone who ever wished the Transformers movies were less Michael Bay, more transformation sequences; it luxuriates in the intricate beauty that is technology, exults in the mechanics of cyberpunk. And it does all this while being a rom-com with a lot of explosions." --Cassandra Khaw, finalist for the British Fantasy and Locus Awards for Hammers on Bone

30 review for Automatic Reload

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I think I came into this read with certain expectations. I've read five of his other novels and while many of them had serious moments, they were (on the whole) rather funny or even deeply amusing while also kicking major SF (or UF) butt. This one, at least by the blurb, gave me a feeling like this would be a fast, furious, and funny romance with massive cyborg hardware wrapped in a romance. What I found was a serious work met with quiet humor, an empathic romance born of anxiety, compassion, and I think I came into this read with certain expectations. I've read five of his other novels and while many of them had serious moments, they were (on the whole) rather funny or even deeply amusing while also kicking major SF (or UF) butt. This one, at least by the blurb, gave me a feeling like this would be a fast, furious, and funny romance with massive cyborg hardware wrapped in a romance. What I found was a serious work met with quiet humor, an empathic romance born of anxiety, compassion, and shared threats. How was it serious? It does wonders for the neurodiverse. Whether someone is anxious, depressed, or suffering from PTSD, I've rarely read a more comprehensive (and interesting) treatment. And it makes SENSE. Anyone that afraid of anything WOULD be a prime candidate for the full transhumanist package. And more, of course. Who needs a white matrix room when you can store all your guns IN your body. :) Of course, I'm focusing on what makes this an excellent novel that will stay with me a while. The other trappings are all kinds of awesome, too. It really IS a furious, high-octane shoot-em-up adventure, after all. And the romance is freaking sweet and hits all the right kinds of tones. It's just not designed to be a laugh-a-minute tale. And I think it's BETTER for it. :)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This is my second book by this author. Well, technically, this is the first one of his I've finished. Which is not to say that the other isn't good, I'm just in a weird place these days (figuratively and literally) and my reading is ... irregular. In fact, I liked the unfinished first so much that I was immediately on board for this latest novel. Matt is the male MC here. He's a fighter, a veteran even. At one point, he lost his left arm in the war and replaced it (overcompensating) with a machin This is my second book by this author. Well, technically, this is the first one of his I've finished. Which is not to say that the other isn't good, I'm just in a weird place these days (figuratively and literally) and my reading is ... irregular. In fact, I liked the unfinished first so much that I was immediately on board for this latest novel. Matt is the male MC here. He's a fighter, a veteran even. At one point, he lost his left arm in the war and replaced it (overcompensating) with a machine gun. Since he quickly found out how much more tech could accomplished compared to human limbs made of flesh, he soon replaced both legs and the other arm as well. At the beginning of this book, he is a weapon for hire. But his latest job goes sideways and he discovers that the transport he is supposed to protect has a woman (Silvia, the female MC) on board - a woman that has been turned into a top-notch assassin without having been asked. He helps her and they run. What makes this story so intriguing is the humour, the quirkiness of this future (which is still utterly realistic what with the news getting tailored to the consumer's preferences and manipulated by influential corporations) and - most of all - the fact that Matt has PTSD and Silvia has severe anxiety. Yet their mental health issues fit so damned well with their technological upgrades. It's a unique and wonderful way to address mental health problems and I was delighted to see that this author apparently has done his research on both mental illnesses so they are portrayed in a very real way. The action is fast-paced; the examination of genetic engineering, a digital future, drone strikes and more topics was humane and yet not preachy; the characters were partly comical and partly so real it moved me deeply. Yes, the set-up is weird: a tech story full of explosions and violence that turns into a romance that gets entangled in the mental issues in turn. But the author managed to pull it off brilliantly.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    If you are looking for an action-packed cyberpunk extravaganza about retooled bodyhacking mercenaries, then you’ve come to the right place. Matt has voluntarily replaced his limbs with cybernetic assault weapons although besides the bullets, tasers, and medics, his legs also contain a humidor filled with expensive cigars. Being a bodyhacked mercenary may not be everyone’s cup of tea, particularly if you are morally quandaried and suffer from PTSD. And when you meet your cybernetic match, you fin If you are looking for an action-packed cyberpunk extravaganza about retooled bodyhacking mercenaries, then you’ve come to the right place. Matt has voluntarily replaced his limbs with cybernetic assault weapons although besides the bullets, tasers, and medics, his legs also contain a humidor filled with expensive cigars. Being a bodyhacked mercenary may not be everyone’s cup of tea, particularly if you are morally quandaried and suffer from PTSD. And when you meet your cybernetic match, you find that in addition to being indestructible and invincible, she’s prone to all manner of panic attacks. It’s not Terminator. It’s not Robocop. It’s something new in this brave new world and it’s a ball of fun if you’re ready for it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/08/18/... After a string of disappointing reads, I was in desperate need of a certain kind of fast-paced, action-packed frivolity—the kind I was certain Ferrett Steinmetz could provide, if my experience with his ‘Mancer series was anything to go on. And I was right. While on the surface, Automatic Reload might have been a novel of pure mindless escapism, it was also the perfect remedy to lift me out of my reading funk. The story ta 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/08/18/... After a string of disappointing reads, I was in desperate need of a certain kind of fast-paced, action-packed frivolity—the kind I was certain Ferrett Steinmetz could provide, if my experience with his ‘Mancer series was anything to go on. And I was right. While on the surface, Automatic Reload might have been a novel of pure mindless escapism, it was also the perfect remedy to lift me out of my reading funk. The story takes place in the near-future, and we are following protagonist Mat, a former soldier turned freelance mercenary who now works the black market. In a world dominated by tech and automation, the more of it you have, the more powerful you are, which makes Mat one of the top dogs in his field, having decked himself out in the most advanced weaponry, replacing his limbs with military-grade armaments. But the reality is, beneath his more-machine-than-man exterior, Mat’s still a big softie. He’s a professional who will do the job he’s paid to do, but he’ll also try not to cause more pain and death than is necessary, which is tough sometimes, considering the explosive and violent nature of his work. On his latest mission, however, he is tasked to protect a highly valuable asset in transit. As it turns out though, the cargo is actually a woman named Silvia, and she, as Mat soon learns, is not your typical charge. She’s a genetically engineered super assassin, created and ruthlessly experimented on by an unethical shadowy corporation. Recognizing something of himself in her traumatic experiences and torment, Mat makes the choice to rescue her, betraying his employer whose agents will now come at him with everything they’ve got in order to get Silvia back. What can I say, but Automatic Reload was just plain fun. It’s quirky, it’s adventurous, and the story moves at breakneck speed. There’s also healthy dose of humor, and if you’ve read the author before, you’re probably already familiar with the unabashed geek pride that he shows off in his books. It’s also the perfect sci-fi novel for non-sci-fi fans. If you’ve ever wanted to try cyberpunk but was intimidated by the hard science, emotional gravity and social intricacies of the genre, you should give this one a look. Sure, Steinmetz can sometimes go a little overboard with his descriptions of advanced tech and weaponry (you can tell he’s enthusiastic about both) but on the whole the book is highly accessible with lots of mass appeal. Action, comedy and even romance all find a place in Automatic Reload. The only trade-off here is the memorability and questionable impact. I believe the narrative intended to do and say a lot more, especially with regards to mental health issues like anxiety, self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorders. I’ve got to give the book credit for that, though any message it tries to send is somewhat awkward and simplistic in its delivery and is often overshadowed by the unsubtle deluge of geeky pop culture references and movie in-jokes. The romance, albeit sweet, was also a tad flimsy. While they may be delightful and fun, Mat and Silvia are not exactly what I would call deep or multidimensional characters, which is why their love story fell a bit flat. There’s hardly any build-up, with the expectation the two of them were simply meant to be because they made an instant connection. I mean, I get that Steinmetz had to keep things snappy, given that this is more of an action-oriented book, but insta-love in any form just doesn’t really fly with me. Still, I needed a good escapist book, and I got a good escapist book. At the very least, the enjoyment I got from Automatic Reload was surely worth its few minor hiccups. Ultimately it was a blast to read, even if it could have used a bit more depth, and although its value was mostly in its ability to provide punchy entertainment, I nevertheless found a lot more to it than I expected.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality Automatic Reload was a wild ride from beginning to end. The kind of wild ride you get when you cross cyberpunk with dystopia and throw in a bit of romantic suspense for spice – and extra body. Make that bodies, definitely plural, bodies. The genre of this book has been bent so much that it’s a pretzel. But I LOVE pretzels – and I’m sure I’m not alone. The future that is posited in this story reminded me of a lot of things, and not just the idea that this is a Originally published at Reading Reality Automatic Reload was a wild ride from beginning to end. The kind of wild ride you get when you cross cyberpunk with dystopia and throw in a bit of romantic suspense for spice – and extra body. Make that bodies, definitely plural, bodies. The genre of this book has been bent so much that it’s a pretzel. But I LOVE pretzels – and I’m sure I’m not alone. The future that is posited in this story reminded me of a lot of things, and not just the idea that this is a possible future that we can see from here – without even having to squint too hard. In a way, it’s the future that The Passengers by John Marrs was trying to warn against – at least until that story takes a hard left turn into more traditional suspense. But the idea that powers most of that book, that computers are controlling too much and making too many decisions based on programming rather than human ideals or human compassion is at the core of this story – even though it turned out not to be in that one. There just aren’t a lot of jobs left for people. Computers even design and program other computers. They’re more efficient and more effective at nearly everything. Especially, as it turns out, warfare. And that’s where our hero comes in. Mat started out as a drone soldier. He piloted the machines that made the actual war, and that distance was supposed to keep him from suffering all of the mental anguish that soldiers have to go through when they make the decision to kill an enemy. Because that decision can go wrong all too easily, wiping out an innocent, or a noncombatant, or a child. But the distance doesn’t take away the pain, or the PTSD that Mat suffers after the drone he’s piloting kills a child who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mat’s way of dealing with the thoughts that won’t leave him is to overcompensate, both physically and mentally. He becomes, not exactly a cyborg, or they’re not called that, but a black market mercenary with four artificial limbs optimized for war. And he fine tunes the programming for all of his various alternate limbs to optimize his every routine and subroutine to eliminate – if possible – any chance of accidentally killing someone he shouldn’t. He does his level best, and it is very, very good, to remove any possibility of collateral damage. Because the automation of all of his weaponry operates faster than he or any human can think. Once he gets into a situation the weapons are on automatic reload. But he can’t bear the thought of killing another innocent. He’s done his best to make a living – because maintenance on his hardware and software is damn expensive – without putting himself into the cross-hairs of the IAC. A shadowy company that operates very much outside the law – because they control the law, the media, and pretty much any damn thing they want. If the IAC decides he’s worth bothering, they’ll be able to trace his every networked movement since the dawn of time. They’ll know his every strength, his every weakness, his every move, even before he does. He’s done his best to stay far away from the “YAK”, as the IAC is usually referred to. Mostly in frightened whispers, because they really are everywhere, watching and listening to EVERYTHING. It’s just supposed to be one very lucrative and very quick job. So of course it all goes pear-shaped, leaving Mat squarely in the YAK’s sights. But the reasons it’s gone so far down the rabbit hole is that the cargo he was supposed to deliver wasn’t just black market goods – it was a black market person named Silvia. A woman who had been altered against her will to be a deadly stealthy weapon – only her programming isn’t finished yet. And if Mat has his way, it never will be. Because Mat’s PTSD and Silvia’s panic disorders mesh in a way that makes their whole much greater than the sum of any number of parts. A whole that the YAK must destroy no matter how much collateral damage it takes. Unless the YAK has something else altogether up its sleeves – if it even has sleeves, that is. Escape Rating A: Automatic Reload wasn’t anything I expected. At all. But it was a wonderful, totally wild ride in all of the best ways. The mash-up is delightful and keeps throwing surprising things into its blender – which is definitely on high. The world feels like an answer to The Passengers, mixed with the dystopia of Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter. I can’t even articulate why Junkyard Cats, although I think some of it has to do with just how bad things are for most humans, and the amount of autonomy that her protagonist has programmed into her many mechanical friends and helpers. That one is a stretch. The Passengers, on the other hand, is dead on for the worldbuilding rather than any of the characters. Both stories deal with the issues that we’re starting to face in the here and now. What do people do, and how do people support themselves, when the number of jobs that require a human being is on a downward trajectory. After all, it’s not immigration that has killed off so many jobs, it’s automation, and that’s a trend that’s going to continue. I’ll admit that I also kept seeing Silvia as the character in the movie Monsters vs. Aliens, or at least the character in the movie poster. She’s not 50-feet tall, in fact she’s human proportioned on purpose in order to infiltrate better – to be a more effective assassin. But the issues she faces with suddenly discovering that she’s not who she used to be feel similar. Although Silvia’s problems do not begin with her physical transformation. One of the strongest – and sweetest – elements of this story is the way that Mat and Silvia come to love each other for who they are, and that they both acknowledge that they both have a lot of mental issues that they compensate for in their own ways. Their mental illnesses are never swept under the rug, and love doesn’t cure them. But they make each other a bit stronger in their broken places in ways that are lovely to see, especially when they’re done well. As they certainly are in this case. Initially I thought that the dystopian setup had elements of the worldbuilding of Ready Player One. And it definitely does. I just didn’t expect the plot to, in its own pretzel-twisty way, actually go there explicitly. But it does, with classic movies substituting – in a way – for 1980s pop culture trivia. And it happens in a way that will still totally surprise you. So come to Automatic Reload for the dystopian world and especially the explosions. Stay for the brighter future that rises, somewhat shakily but delightfully on the horizon.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Williams

    https://lynns-books.com/2020/08/13/au... 3.5 of 5 stars I loved the Mancer series by Ferrett Steinmetz and so when I saw the description for Automatic Reload it was something of a no-brainer that I wanted this book in my life. Here’s a short snippet of the original description to give you something of an idea: ‘Ferrett Steinmetz‘s quirky, genre-mashing cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload a high-octane adventure about a grizzled mercenary with machine gun arms who unexpectedly falls in love with a bi https://lynns-books.com/2020/08/13/au... 3.5 of 5 stars I loved the Mancer series by Ferrett Steinmetz and so when I saw the description for Automatic Reload it was something of a no-brainer that I wanted this book in my life. Here’s a short snippet of the original description to give you something of an idea: ‘Ferrett Steinmetz‘s quirky, genre-mashing cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload a high-octane adventure about a grizzled mercenary with machine gun arms who unexpectedly falls in love with a bio-engineered assassin.’ This was a very entertaining story, quick paced and high octane indeed. Steinmetz certainly does deliver a genre-mashing quirky romance and even with all the descriptions of guns and customised body parts he still manages to infuse this action story with plenty of warmth. The story involves two key characters. Mat, a former soldier, now a mercenary who has been offered a job with a dream payout. If things go smoothly he’ll be very comfortable for quite some time (what could possibly go wrong?). Mat is the top in his field. This is a future where people can replace limbs with high grade weaponry andMat has gone for all four limbs. His attention to detail has ensured him an enviable reputation but, he suffers with guilt that means he likes to examine all the risks before taking action. Silvia is a genetically engineered assassin, almost inhuman in terms of strength, speed and agility with a panic disorder that makes her a little trigger happy. Silvia has been engineered almost beyond recognition by a ruthless company that will pull out all the stops to retrieve her when she goes AWOL and this is when Mat and Silvia team up. What I will say about AR is it’s a whole load of fun. Steinmetz is really good with banter and also including all sorts of references that simply give you a buzz when you’re reading his stories. Automatic Reload isn’t necessarily a complicated plot, it’s really a boy meets girl story where the two people in question have their own hang ups and never believed that anyone would give them a second look again and so were overjoyed to find this unexpected second chance. It’s also a rescue mission, boy rescues girl, girl rescues boy, etc and more than that it’s a rage against the machine style plot that goes from fast to faster and promotes all round good feelings. Of course all this out and out action does come at a slight cost. The characters are thinly drawn and the romance and love is almost instantaneous. That’s not really a criticism as it happens because for me lengthy descriptions and too much backstory would probably overload what is otherwise a very entertaining read that has a superhero or comic book feel to it and is a breath of fresh air. I think the only issue that I really experienced is that there was a little too much information about the body hackers and all their tech. It wasn’t a problem as such but it did reach a point where I felt I understood the workings and wanted to move on. I had no problems racing from cover to cover. This has plenty of action. Characters that are on the side of good, trying to do good things and a helluva lot of explosions – not to mention some incredibly creative thinking, particularly with the car scene – which I won’t spoil – but was great. What I can say with absolute certainty is that Steinmetz is an author whose work I really enjoy. I would rate this 3.5 of 5 stars I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. the above is my own opinion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kris Sellgren

    This science fiction novel is graphically violent, with endless battles and car chases. But buried in there is a thoughtful examination of PTSD and panic disorders, their coping mechanisms, and the toll these take on the family and friends of those afflicted. There is also a weird but sweet romance (traumatized cyborg mercenary meets traumatized home inspector). Those, and the ethical issues raised about drone warfare and automating humans out of jobs, led me to skim the fights and read the rest This science fiction novel is graphically violent, with endless battles and car chases. But buried in there is a thoughtful examination of PTSD and panic disorders, their coping mechanisms, and the toll these take on the family and friends of those afflicted. There is also a weird but sweet romance (traumatized cyborg mercenary meets traumatized home inspector). Those, and the ethical issues raised about drone warfare and automating humans out of jobs, led me to skim the fights and read the rest of the novel. There is also a robot cat, Opposite Cat, whose role is brief but memorable (to me at least).

  8. 5 out of 5

    a hooded figure from your friendly neighbourhood dog park

    I'm really into hardcore body modding stories, and the mix of action and anxiety SEEMED like it was going to remind me of Murderbot (in a good way), but then ca. page 60... there's a horrific cat death. I lost a kitten this year and that's a MASSIVE trigger for me, so... nope. DNF 1/3 in.

  9. 5 out of 5

    jonathan finn

    Another great read.. Ferrett Steinmetz has steadily climbed to become one of my favourite writers mainly because he writes like I read which is to say mainly in the SFF genre but with each of his books being widely different in tone, topic and style. Since he finished the mancer trilogy, his take on urban fantasy he has published three standalone s that are firmly in the SF genre each with a distinct concept Automatic Reload is his latest on the surface it’s a twist on the standard rom com, but go Another great read.. Ferrett Steinmetz has steadily climbed to become one of my favourite writers mainly because he writes like I read which is to say mainly in the SFF genre but with each of his books being widely different in tone, topic and style. Since he finished the mancer trilogy, his take on urban fantasy he has published three standalone s that are firmly in the SF genre each with a distinct concept Automatic Reload is his latest on the surface it’s a twist on the standard rom com, but go deeper and it’s a examination of mental illness and a broader mediation on whether increased automation is making man irrelevant. All of that is very dry way to describe a book with a lot of heart, a good dose of action and some interesting things to say. In a near future America, Mat is a super soldier a former member of the Drone corps he is now a quadruplic whose limbs have been replaced with state of the art armaments. In atypical approach Mat is portrayed less as a Rambo figure and more as a high level programmer who happens also to be a soldier suffering from ptsd , ocd, and other issues. When he gets drafted in to do a job with a crew that’s less then professional he meets Silvia a woman who suffers from severe panic disorders and who is no longer in control of her own body. Their meeting will put them in a desperate fight for survival agaisnt the worlds premier crime cartel. Fast paced great characters, and obviously the byproduct of a lot of research on a whole host of subjects this is another top class read from a writer that needs a whole lot more recognition. Recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susanna Parker

    Open up with a hostage situation that has the potential to go very bad, very quickly. Then introduce our protagonist, a former US military drone operator turned “bodyhacker” named Mat. Then introduce Mat’s pressing need to reduce ‘incidental damage’ (a side effect of his time as a drone operator), a nefarious international organization known as The Yak, and a job offer he can’t refuse. Throw in some PTSD, a rival body hacker who knows how to hold a grudge, and a bioweapon with panic attacks, and Open up with a hostage situation that has the potential to go very bad, very quickly. Then introduce our protagonist, a former US military drone operator turned “bodyhacker” named Mat. Then introduce Mat’s pressing need to reduce ‘incidental damage’ (a side effect of his time as a drone operator), a nefarious international organization known as The Yak, and a job offer he can’t refuse. Throw in some PTSD, a rival body hacker who knows how to hold a grudge, and a bioweapon with panic attacks, and you’ve got yourself Automatic Reload. Ferrett Steinmetz’s latest work is a thrilling combination of cyberpunk and romcom that is funny, sweet, and action-packed. Steinmetz does a great job immersing you in the not-too-distant future, building his new world while helping the reader understand how it sprung from our existing technology. He also tackles his characters’ battles with PTSD and panic disorder with sensitivity and understanding. Mat’s time in the service has left both physical and mental scars, and they’re never treated as a punchline but rather a fundamental part of who he has become. Likewise with Silvia, our genetically engineered WMD who fights throughout to push through her panic attacks and keep going, despite the incredible odds against them both. A couple of times those panic attacks cause real problems for our protagonists, but they’re never used as a McGuffin. They’re a part of her as much as Mat’s prosthetics are a part of him, and the author treats them all with the seriousness and respect they require. If you’ve enjoyed Ferrett Steinmetz’s other works (The ‘Mancer Series, The Uploaded, and The Sol Majestic), you’ll enjoy Automatic Reload. Full of pop culture references and fast-paced action sequences, Automatic Reload kept me up late reading, excited to see what happened next.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg Chatham

    Okay, so this one is on me. 😅 As a general rule, if an author refers to Glocks or "locks" in the first few pages, it's time for me to move on to another book. And although Ferret Steinmetz does nothing so pedestrian here, it's immediately apparent that the narrator of Automatic Reload is going to be talking about his guns-- well, his gun arms-- like, A LOT. So setting aside that this book clearly isn't for me, it's mostly well-written, the futuristic weaponry follows a consistent logic, and the au Okay, so this one is on me. 😅 As a general rule, if an author refers to Glocks or "locks" in the first few pages, it's time for me to move on to another book. And although Ferret Steinmetz does nothing so pedestrian here, it's immediately apparent that the narrator of Automatic Reload is going to be talking about his guns-- well, his gun arms-- like, A LOT. So setting aside that this book clearly isn't for me, it's mostly well-written, the futuristic weaponry follows a consistent logic, and the automated workplace sci-fi setting has some interesting twists to it. If you're looking for a book about a hyper-competent, socially awkward, cybernetically enhanced mercenary and you've already read all the Murderbot books, this should scratch that itch. One caveat. The book veers into Ready Player One territory at points. Whereas Murderbot is obsessed with fictional TV serials, the protagonist in Automatic Reload is a big fan of movies from the 1970s and '80s. So it's only a matter of time before he's bonding with his wish-fulfillment love interest over their shared love of Harrison Ford movies (although somehow she's never seen Star Wars, which seems... dumb) and programming self-driving cars to yell out his favorite movie quotes. If that's not the sort of thing that gets on your nerves, great! You'll probably have a lot of fun with this one. As for me, I can't say I wasn't warned! The book is pretty clear about it's intentions straight from the title. I just stuck around to see what happened.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Spencer

    As long as you don’t expect too much from it, Ferrett Steinmetz’s Automatic Reload is a fun and exciting techno-action romp. Steinmetz’s premise—that in the near future, warfare and combat have evolved to be dominated by drone technology and augmented humans featuring AI-controlled cyborg-ish prosthetic limb weaponry—allows him to draw upon his programming background to geek out about the endless hours of maintenance and optimization that would presumably be involved if this sort of quasi-plausi As long as you don’t expect too much from it, Ferrett Steinmetz’s Automatic Reload is a fun and exciting techno-action romp. Steinmetz’s premise—that in the near future, warfare and combat have evolved to be dominated by drone technology and augmented humans featuring AI-controlled cyborg-ish prosthetic limb weaponry—allows him to draw upon his programming background to geek out about the endless hours of maintenance and optimization that would presumably be involved if this sort of quasi-plausible future technology application were to be in place. This is refreshing, to a degree, as the nitty-gritty mundane details like this tend to be overlooked by many popcorn techno-thrillers. Steinmetz is clearly a fan of/influenced by Martha Wells’s excellent “Murderbot” series, and it feels like he is trying to establish a similar tone or vibe with this story, though he does not achieve the same level of success. This is more a testament to Wells’s work than a slight against Steinmetz, but the latter’s characters simply don’t ring through with the same gravity and humanity as the former. The rom-com-y elements of Automatic Reload fall a little flat, in my opinion. I think this mainly stems from the fact that the two lead characters, while likeable, do not have realistic chemistry. It’s simply not believable that two people can meet and then be in love about 90 seconds later. Further, the emotional development of the characters and their relationships seemed to involve a bit too much “telling” vs. “showing,” even if it was nice to see the author attempt to humanize and normalize issues regarding PTSD and Anxiety. Additionally, the ending took an…interesting…turn, which I’m sure will be polarizing to readers, and the whole narrative toes a wee bit close to the line of “self-indulgent geekboy fantasy” at times, so readers who are repulsed by the likes of “Ready Player One” may want to steer clear. Having said all that, if you’ve read the book’s jacket description and you’re interested, you should have a good sense of what you’re in for, and it’s still a fun read. It is blisteringly fast-paced, but a quick enough read that it doesn’t feel exhausting. If you’re in the mood for some lighthearted action entertainment with a few chuckles, give it a shot. Three stars, worth a try.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Will

    5 / 5 ✪ https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com... A cyborg with a conscience. A genetically enhanced assassin who suffers panic attacks. A love story for the ages—albeit kind of an odd one. A cyberpunk-romance about two heavily augmented badasses who take on the world, and have a breakdown when it gets to be too much. A couple that is more machine than man, but turn out to be more human than most of us. I could go on, but you get the gist. Mat is one the best at what he does—a black-market merc with 5 / 5 ✪ https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com... A cyborg with a conscience. A genetically enhanced assassin who suffers panic attacks. A love story for the ages—albeit kind of an odd one. A cyberpunk-romance about two heavily augmented badasses who take on the world, and have a breakdown when it gets to be too much. A couple that is more machine than man, but turn out to be more human than most of us. I could go on, but you get the gist. Mat is one the best at what he does—a black-market merc with a heart of silver (not quite gold, but close). A killing machine that would rather not have to, and manages to do his job without as much as possible. And does it far better than most humans. That’s because Mat is more than your average human. He’s post-human: a cybernetically enhanced body-hacker who uses his deadly, deadly augmentations to save innocent lives. He’s the best at what he does for two reasons. One, because he maintains his equipment and preps for his missions with an OCD mentality. He lives and breathes cybernetics—always tweaking his limbs to improve performance and firepower, to minimize casualties rather than increase them, obsessively watching and rewatching video of his previous assignments to learn what he could’ve done better, who he could’ve saved. He takes posthumanism to the next level—a search for perfection. And two, he never strays into the light of day. Mat is the big fish in his stretch of river, and he likes it that way. As such, he makes a point never to draw too much attention to himself. If any of the bigger fish from downstream noticed, they might fancy a trip up. And if any fishermen caught wind of him, they might stop by. But behind both the fish and fishermen, there’s a larger threat. The IAC—called the “Yak”. They’re the shark-man in this scenario. The uh… landshark. The government agency that makes body-hackers disappear forever. And Mat would do anything to keep off there radar. But, like everyone else, it appears this self-preservation has a price. And that’s $3 million for two hours. With the biggest score of his life on the line, Mat accepts a mission he knows is trouble from the outset. And it all snowballs not an hour in. When an unknown power attacks his convoy, Mat learns that the shipment he’s been contracted to protect isn’t a package at all. It’s a woman. Enter Silvia: genetically engineered assassin and ultimate badass. And current prisoner of the IAC. The organization that no one wants to be at war with. The shadow cabal that Mat has done his best to avoid, his entire life. And two minutes after meeting Silvia he decides to throw it all away. And frees her. But when the biggest score of his life turns into its biggest fight, Mat learns three things surprisingly quickly—one, he’s not the big fish anymore. Even with the IAC, the police and other body-hackers out to get him, it becomes clear that Silvia is the biggest fish. She’s Jaws and this is her movie. Two—whatever else Silvia may look like, the woman beneath the mask is ultimately more interesting than the assassin itself. With reflexes Mat would kill for but a self-confidence that provokes a panic attack every other action, Silvia is definitely more than meets the eye. And three—whatever else you might say about their issues, the two are infinitely better together than apart. But will they be allowed to explore this budding romance in full, or will Jaws end like the movie—with the shark dead, the romance over, no chance of a sequel, and not a dry eye in the theater? Automatic Reload is a cyberpunk-romance thriller—it’s what would’ve happened if Nicholas Sparks had authored Altered Carbon, only with more explosions and panic attacks. Written by ‘Mancer author Ferrett Steinmetz, it’s the action-adventure blockbuster I wanted, with the relatable stories I needed. No, I’m not talking about the government-trained assassin bit. Nor the cybernetic ally augmented super-solider. I’m talking about both. Mat only lost the first limb. Shredded in a military mishap, it was replaced with a prosthetic that promised better, faster, stronger performance than the original. From there it was easy to see the promise of posthumance. He quickly swapped out the old meat-suit for a fresh batch of new toys; a body that would manage to correct all the mistakes of the flesh that he couldn’t fix himself. Mat was after the power to safe others, only at the cost of himself. Silvia didn’t choose her augments. Where Mat went with the body-hacker enhancement option, Silvia went the therapy route. Experimental, government, classified therapy. In hindsight, most of those should’ve been red flags. But at the time, she was desperate. Desperate to get on her own two feet, to get her life together—to please her family. The family that had done everything for her; her Mama, who both supported and belittled her, but loved her more than anything; and Vala, her sister, who lived and died for Silvia, fighting to build her up whenever their mother put Silvia down. Though the government reformed her body, they didn’t repair her mind. I guess that was Step B in therapy. I related very well with each of these characters. While I know nothing about being a soldier, I know everything about depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and not feeling in control of your own mind. It’s an incredibly humbling, immensely frustrating experience. One that has you often desperate for a miracle cure: something that can fix you, fix everything, the dream of post-humanism. A role that Mat and Silvia fill perfectly. There is so never any chance of perfection in life—despite the fact that this is what Mat does, what he strives for day after day—it’s just a pipe dream. Silvia is about as far from perfection as one can get. Not only can she not control her mind, her body is suddenly alien as well. Before, neither has lived very well. But now, they are forced with a decision. Apart, the odds of survival are almost nil. Together… well, it’s higher. So, better together. Better together, but not perfect. But life is never perfect, and death the only alternative. TL;DR An amazing cyberpunk adventure. Action-packed, romantically steamy, emotionally unstable, and more—Mat and Silvia represent a team that I’d love to see more of down the road. A few unique and unexpected twists later on in the story kept the plot intriguing, and never hard to read. I have very few complaints about this book. The story was great. The trials and travails faced within were both relatable and inspiring. Despite the leads being debatably “more-than human”, each demonstrated their humanity perfectly. It’s unclear whether the text argues more for or against transhumanism. I think it makes the case for posthumance, but urges restraint. But you can decide for yourself. My biggest issues were with the world-building—that we so rarely got a glimpse of the world outside the immediate story—though it’s a minor gripe. Truth is, I loved this book. Probably my best of the year thus far. Easily recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Trash Panzer

    [Note: Received an ARC from the author.] To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book, but I ended up loving it. I've enjoyed Steinmetz's previous work, but... I guess this is one of those stories where some authors would try to make it into some sort of gritty/edgy cyberpunk thing and it would just end up not being especially remarkable, and that's what one would often expect of it. But Steinmetz successfully manages to make it feel (as it says on the cover) like a "rom-com wi [Note: Received an ARC from the author.] To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book, but I ended up loving it. I've enjoyed Steinmetz's previous work, but... I guess this is one of those stories where some authors would try to make it into some sort of gritty/edgy cyberpunk thing and it would just end up not being especially remarkable, and that's what one would often expect of it. But Steinmetz successfully manages to make it feel (as it says on the cover) like a "rom-com with explosions". It's unusual to find a book that starts with a cyberpunk premise like this one's and takes it in this direction. What impresses me is that it works, and it works well. It's a story of two people, one with PTSD and one with panic disorder, who end up fumbling their way into a relationship of mutual support, and into actual love, in a way that feels very real and human. ...And they also happen to both be cyborgs, and they spend a lot of the book in furious millisecond-by-millisecond combat with rogue self-driving cars, armed flying drones, taser-hawks, and mercenary body-hackers. I'll admit I was apprehensive about the way this book described itself, but by the scene where the main characters actually met I was completely on-board with it. A huge part of that is the characters navigating not only their own mental illnesses, but each others'. It eventually becomes a sort of dance, and it's great to watch it happen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    deep

    PW Starred: " A cyborg mercenary works to protect a genetically enhanced woman from a powerful corporation in this consistently surprising, hyperkinetic action adventure from Steinmetz (The Sol Majestic). Former drone operator Mat, now more machine than man, is obsessed with preventing casualties on his oft-violent missions. Despite his reluctance to work for the shadowy International Access Corporation, Mat accepts a lucrative job protecting one of its packages in transit. But when he discovers PW Starred: " A cyborg mercenary works to protect a genetically enhanced woman from a powerful corporation in this consistently surprising, hyperkinetic action adventure from Steinmetz (The Sol Majestic). Former drone operator Mat, now more machine than man, is obsessed with preventing casualties on his oft-violent missions. Despite his reluctance to work for the shadowy International Access Corporation, Mat accepts a lucrative job protecting one of its packages in transit. But when he discovers the package is Silvia, a woman experimented on against her will and transformed into a monstrous killer, Mat turns on his employers to rescue her. As the two try to outwit IAC, they forge an unexpected bond, helping each other face their respective trauma. Steinmetz expertly fuses cyberpunk staples and romantic comedy elements to deliver an over-the-top, action-packed tale while also addressing mental illness and body issues. In tackling Silvia’s panic disorder and Mat’s PTSD, as well as their respective feelings of dysphoria, Steinmetz imbues this rip-roaring tale with a surprising amount of sensitivity and heart. This thoroughly satisfying story works as both thriller and romance. Agent: Evan Gregory, the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. (May) "

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sontaranpr

    Mat has some issues with PTSD. A former drone pilot, Mat ended up killing a child during a strike. It wasn't the first time collateral damage had occurred but was the first time it really hurt. Insurgents struck back at another time leaving Mat without one of his arms. So he had it replaced with exchangeable cybernetics. Then the other arm and both his legs. Now working as a mercenary Mat makes sure his (semi)autonomous weapons won't take innocent lives. Mat only takes the good jobs - hostage re Mat has some issues with PTSD. A former drone pilot, Mat ended up killing a child during a strike. It wasn't the first time collateral damage had occurred but was the first time it really hurt. Insurgents struck back at another time leaving Mat without one of his arms. So he had it replaced with exchangeable cybernetics. Then the other arm and both his legs. Now working as a mercenary Mat makes sure his (semi)autonomous weapons won't take innocent lives. Mat only takes the good jobs - hostage rescue sort of things. Not high paying but work he can survive doing financially and mentally as his brain never forgets the times he's failed to protect a life. Then a high paying job comes in. A milk run keeping a loose cannon out of trouble. Which goes as well as you can imagine. This book's a rom com with exquisite violence. Mat's cyber attachments are described with the detail and expense they require to continue operation. It's not all gunshots and cigars. There are hours of tweaking programming and replacing worn actuators.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Steinmetz, Ferrett. Automatic Reload. Tor, 2020. Ferrett Steinmetz is becoming one of my favorite authors. I was very fond of the quirky Sol Majestic, which is about a boy who goes on a vision quest to find his “inevitable philosophy” and learn haute cuisine on a far-future space station. Automatic Reload is a much different sort of book. Its hero is a near future mercenary who specializes in rescuing kidnap victims for corporate clients. He is a quadriplegic who has replaced his missing limbs wi Steinmetz, Ferrett. Automatic Reload. Tor, 2020. Ferrett Steinmetz is becoming one of my favorite authors. I was very fond of the quirky Sol Majestic, which is about a boy who goes on a vision quest to find his “inevitable philosophy” and learn haute cuisine on a far-future space station. Automatic Reload is a much different sort of book. Its hero is a near future mercenary who specializes in rescuing kidnap victims for corporate clients. He is a quadriplegic who has replaced his missing limbs with robotic, weaponized appendages that are much more efficient that his original equipment. In the case that forms the central action of the plot, he rescues a woman who has been genetically enhanced and weaponized against her will. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and she from panic disorder, so they are a match made in, well, maybe not heaven. Steinmentz says in an author’s note that his book is in conversation with K. C. Alexander’s Necrotech, in that it made him wonder about how a cyborg might fieldstrip and maintain his equipment.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Henry Lazarus

    Matt a former drone pilot with nightmares about killing people, has replaced his arms and legs with artificial limbs that are also weapons with Automatic Reload (paper from TOR). In an age where computers have taken most jobs, Mat is hired to rescue kidnap victims and other jobs. He obsessively maintains his limbs and plans his jobs to avoid civilian death. He takes a high pay job with other cyborgs guarding a package delivery for IAC, the most evil corporation on Earth. Unfortunately in an atta Matt a former drone pilot with nightmares about killing people, has replaced his arms and legs with artificial limbs that are also weapons with Automatic Reload (paper from TOR). In an age where computers have taken most jobs, Mat is hired to rescue kidnap victims and other jobs. He obsessively maintains his limbs and plans his jobs to avoid civilian death. He takes a high pay job with other cyborgs guarding a package delivery for IAC, the most evil corporation on Earth. Unfortunately in an attack on the package, it opens revealing Silvia, a woman modified biologically to be a high powered assassin. To avoid her being brainwashed by IAC, Mat and Silvia go on the run and eventually have to rescue Silvia’s mother and sister who have been kidnaped by IAC to force Silvia to surrender. Ferrett Steinmetz keeps the action fast and furious. This tale of two mismatched people is pulse-pounding and impossible to put down. Review printed by Philadelphia Free Press

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deana

    I've been a longtime fan of Ferrett's writing, and so I was very excited to receive an ARC of his new book. It did not disappoint. Ferrett has a knack for creating real and believable characters. Mat is a body-hacker with PTSD and Silvia is an AI-hybrid with Panic Disorder. I love that both characters are deeply flawed and they have to work together to overcome those flaws and win the day. The action stays tense without being over-the-top, and the romantic story is sweet and genuine. Basically, re I've been a longtime fan of Ferrett's writing, and so I was very excited to receive an ARC of his new book. It did not disappoint. Ferrett has a knack for creating real and believable characters. Mat is a body-hacker with PTSD and Silvia is an AI-hybrid with Panic Disorder. I love that both characters are deeply flawed and they have to work together to overcome those flaws and win the day. The action stays tense without being over-the-top, and the romantic story is sweet and genuine. Basically, read this book. You won't regret it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Recent Reads: Automatic Reload. Ferrett Steinmetz's cyborg chase-scene love-story is more than a neurodivergent Mr and Mrs Smith. It's questions of morality, of how we live broken, and how we dismantle the systems of the world. The future is what we make it, as long as we love. If The Sol Majestic was a meditation on life, love, and the power of organised labour, then Automatic Reload is a call to action in a time of automation and self-optimising systems. These are books about the dignity of hum Recent Reads: Automatic Reload. Ferrett Steinmetz's cyborg chase-scene love-story is more than a neurodivergent Mr and Mrs Smith. It's questions of morality, of how we live broken, and how we dismantle the systems of the world. The future is what we make it, as long as we love. If The Sol Majestic was a meditation on life, love, and the power of organised labour, then Automatic Reload is a call to action in a time of automation and self-optimising systems. These are books about the dignity of humanity, and its heart.

  21. 5 out of 5

    keikii Eats Books

    I can genuinely say I did NOT expect that ending. What in the world was that? I have a lot of complex thoughts about this book that I'll sort through for the full review. I can say that this is not the weirdest romance I've ever read, but there aren't many weirder. ARC received from Tor books on Edelweiss. This did not affect my review. To read more reviews, check out my blog keikii eats books! I can genuinely say I did NOT expect that ending. What in the world was that? I have a lot of complex thoughts about this book that I'll sort through for the full review. I can say that this is not the weirdest romance I've ever read, but there aren't many weirder. ARC received from Tor books on Edelweiss. This did not affect my review. To read more reviews, check out my blog keikii eats books!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kari Reads

    Loads of action. Good pacing. The interaction between the characters feels genuine. The mental health problems of the characters are treated in a way that feels respectful and honest, and those problems do not keep them from being complete badasses. But the ending. Oh, that ending. 4 stars for everything up to about the last 20 pages. But don't let that stop you from reading the book. It's really an enjoyable thrill ride.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Penn Davies

    This is a book about high technology and whiz-bang guns and how to optimize them to find the perfect firefight. It's also about how to deal with the fact that it's humans that make the decisions, and humans are fundamentally broken (these ones more than most). I've have varying opinions about Ferrett's previous books, I think it's his best. It's a glorious festival of action and tense strategy, but also a deep investigation on how two (or more) broken people navige their own neuroses.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This took me a minute to get into, because it's pretty over the top. The concept of a person willingly becoming a quadruple amputee in order to become a walking war crime hit me in a part of the feels that I usually don't appreciate. But there's a lot of real humanity in this, looking into the nature of people's damage and morality. And once the shoot-outs and car chases begin, turning pages just becomes, well, automatic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Uni Potter

    I like this author a lot. I always have. But, unfortunately, this one died of Uni Hates First Person Disorder. I liked a lot of the ideas. I liked the explosions. But because it was told from the POV of a far too self aware cyborg who loved to tell you about these ideas, it was the least enjoyable Ferrett experience I've had. Read Flex instead

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alisha Parr

    Action packed Cyber Punk goodness So much fun I wish this was a series instead of a one off. I want more!!!!! Well developed characters, lots of twists, turns and surprises. Dark humor Galore, a robot cat, and a bit of "Sweet Romance"

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    3.5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Author's intro, at Scalzi's: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2020/07/2... Author's intro, at Scalzi's: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2020/07/2...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Wow, I have not had this much scifi fun since Murderbot. It's impressive how this delves into mental health with heart and humor. This feels like the start of a series and I'm cheering for that to be true.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Koalaesq

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