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Hard Reboot

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Django Wexler's Hard Reboot features giant mech arena battles and intergalactic diplomacy. When did academia get to be so complicated? Kas is a junior researcher on a fact-finding mission to old Earth. But when a con-artist tricks her into wagering a large sum of money belonging to her university on the outcome of a manned robot arena battle she becomes drawn into the seedy Django Wexler's Hard Reboot features giant mech arena battles and intergalactic diplomacy. When did academia get to be so complicated? Kas is a junior researcher on a fact-finding mission to old Earth. But when a con-artist tricks her into wagering a large sum of money belonging to her university on the outcome of a manned robot arena battle she becomes drawn into the seedy underworld of old Earth politics and state-sponsored battle-droid prizefights. Is it time to get back to the books, yet?


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Django Wexler's Hard Reboot features giant mech arena battles and intergalactic diplomacy. When did academia get to be so complicated? Kas is a junior researcher on a fact-finding mission to old Earth. But when a con-artist tricks her into wagering a large sum of money belonging to her university on the outcome of a manned robot arena battle she becomes drawn into the seedy Django Wexler's Hard Reboot features giant mech arena battles and intergalactic diplomacy. When did academia get to be so complicated? Kas is a junior researcher on a fact-finding mission to old Earth. But when a con-artist tricks her into wagering a large sum of money belonging to her university on the outcome of a manned robot arena battle she becomes drawn into the seedy underworld of old Earth politics and state-sponsored battle-droid prizefights. Is it time to get back to the books, yet?

30 review for Hard Reboot

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    "Scholar Zychtykas Three—Kas to her friends, of which she had none—had slaved, scrimped, and swindled to get the fourth spot on the team going to Old Earth. She’d pulled strings, spent the pathetic remains of her savings, contemplated blackmail, and come perilously close to having to fuck an associate dean, all to guarantee that her name would be at the top of Archscholar Grio One’s list." And so the novella begun. It's initial tone indicated the dually witty and scientific writing style, the foc "Scholar Zychtykas Three—Kas to her friends, of which she had none—had slaved, scrimped, and swindled to get the fourth spot on the team going to Old Earth. She’d pulled strings, spent the pathetic remains of her savings, contemplated blackmail, and come perilously close to having to fuck an associate dean, all to guarantee that her name would be at the top of Archscholar Grio One’s list." And so the novella begun. It's initial tone indicated the dually witty and scientific writing style, the focus promted the reader on the futuristic setting and time, and the glimpse into Kas' background specified the high stakes involved in the proceedings. What it did not indicate was that Kas was only one of two perspectives. The second female, Zhi, was far less academic than Kas and did not have her years of schooling or trained poise, but she proved just as willing to do anything in her power to obtain her desires. Kas' were to reach Old Earth and study the old tech there and Zhi's was to rebuild her warbot, Speedy, free herself from the debts tying her to the Drome, and escape to another planetary system. All of these plans went completely awry and their futures became entangled in each other's instead. Despite the scant page count, this future setting felt fully-fleshed, as did the numerous tech inside of it. The two primary characters had distinct and likable voices. Their storylines were vividly explored and I felt the high stakes involved. I would have loved to see this become a full-length novel and for their diverse pasts, as full as conjoined futures, to also be explored. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Django Wexler, and the publisher, Tor, for this opportunity.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Django Wexler

    My fun little novella is finally out! I hope everyone enjoys it. This was originally supposed to be a short story for the Silk & Steel anthology ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5... ) so if you liked that, you may enjoy this, and vice versa! My fun little novella is finally out! I hope everyone enjoys it. This was originally supposed to be a short story for the Silk & Steel anthology ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5... ) so if you liked that, you may enjoy this, and vice versa!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This was an entertaining science fiction novella. I enjoyed seeing the author's imagined future, particularly exploring the cultural differences between the off worlders and those that stayed behind on old earth. The best parts were easily the mechs, which made me reminiscent of the mobile suit gundam anime of my youth. The story itself was fairly straightforward, although nonetheless enjoyable. I would recommend to readers looking for quick and easy scifi read. 4.0 Stars This was an entertaining science fiction novella. I enjoyed seeing the author's imagined future, particularly exploring the cultural differences between the off worlders and those that stayed behind on old earth. The best parts were easily the mechs, which made me reminiscent of the mobile suit gundam anime of my youth. The story itself was fairly straightforward, although nonetheless enjoyable. I would recommend to readers looking for quick and easy scifi read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    This was a really fun little novella with giant mechs battling and a sapphic romance. Kas is a junior researcher visiting old Earth on a research trip to study ancient technology and coding. Zhi is a mech pilot in trouble who tries to scam Kas out of money. But they end up working together in the face of danger. I don't want to say much more because it's a brief story, but I found this really enjoyable. Kas and Zhi have a fun dynamic and they slowly come to understand each other and overcome the This was a really fun little novella with giant mechs battling and a sapphic romance. Kas is a junior researcher visiting old Earth on a research trip to study ancient technology and coding. Zhi is a mech pilot in trouble who tries to scam Kas out of money. But they end up working together in the face of danger. I don't want to say much more because it's a brief story, but I found this really enjoyable. Kas and Zhi have a fun dynamic and they slowly come to understand each other and overcome their misconceptions. The sci-fi elements are interesting, including this idea that digital networks on Earth eventually became so full of malware as to be unusable. Definitely worth a read! Thank you to tordotcom for sending me a copy for review. All opinions are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    It wasn't much to look at - an oval floor a few hundred meters across, surrounded by level after level of tiered seating. Time and neglect had stripped off the fabric and paint, leaving only the monocrete foundations, a brutalist sketch of an amphitheater in keeping with twisted, decaying skyline that stretched beyond it. Overhead, the sky was nearly black with endless clouds, which flickered with caged lightning but refused to actually rain. When Kas had pictured the famous mecha fights of Old E It wasn't much to look at - an oval floor a few hundred meters across, surrounded by level after level of tiered seating. Time and neglect had stripped off the fabric and paint, leaving only the monocrete foundations, a brutalist sketch of an amphitheater in keeping with twisted, decaying skyline that stretched beyond it. Overhead, the sky was nearly black with endless clouds, which flickered with caged lightning but refused to actually rain. When Kas had pictured the famous mecha fights of Old Earth, she'd imagined - well, not this. Something grander than a box full of overstuffed tourists staring down at a wreck. Scholar Zychtykas Three - Kas - is finally on Earth, for a week of research and a chance to prove she's more than just her Third Wave designation. But it's not long before she's scammed into a spot nicely midway between a rock and a hard place, and coming to grips that even an impressive level of history won't be enough to get her out of this one. This is one of those threes that's a mix of good and bad, rather than a bland midline the whole way through. There's definitely enough good to tip me onto the side of recommending it - the Roman trappings of the future were used to frame an Empire in similar (though much slower) decline, the romance was sweet, and the mecha-fights were good, if under-used. The issues I had with the book will hit some readers more than others; there's a tendency to overuse the same future-slang; there's a little too much jampacked into a short space, which led to some really good elements all not getting the attention they deserved; and a couple of plot points felt glossed over to ease the story to where the author needed it. But overall, this is a good, quick, easy to like novella. Definitely one I'd revisit if further instalments became available in some form.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hamad

    Not bad but expected more! RTC..

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Buehlman

    An immersive, gritty Sci-fi romp of a novela, featuring giant battle mechas beating the hell out of each other in a dirty old-earth thunderdome. But it’s not just the robot pilots who need to stay frosty - spectators can unintentionally make life-wrecking bets on the outcome of these fights in seconds. Lovely social staging, like discrimination based on how long ago your ancestors left mankind’s garbage-heap home planet, lends depth to a lightning-fast summer read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    Semi-animated video review https://youtu.be/ZpflGbRLR1M A science fiction empire building story with man on man, woman on woman and robot on robot action and an entertaining but predictable story. Hard Reboot is a science-fiction novella from Django Wexler - author of fantasy series like 'The Shadow Campaigns' and 'The Forbidden Library'. It is set far in the future with multiple empires having come and gone. Kas, a researcher is visiting old Earth to get a taste of the culture i.e. see Giant Robot Semi-animated video review https://youtu.be/ZpflGbRLR1M A science fiction empire building story with man on man, woman on woman and robot on robot action and an entertaining but predictable story. Hard Reboot is a science-fiction novella from Django Wexler - author of fantasy series like 'The Shadow Campaigns' and 'The Forbidden Library'. It is set far in the future with multiple empires having come and gone. Kas, a researcher is visiting old Earth to get a taste of the culture i.e. see Giant Robots duke it in arenas. She gets tricked into making a bet that puts her future in academia in jeopardy. What this bet leads to and how she gets out of it forms the basis of the rest of the story. I found Hard Reboot to be entertaining, with decent characters and imaginative world-building. But its achilles heel is the weak and predictable storyline. It didn't bother me so much though since the writing and pacing kept me interested throughout. The world-building is definitely the stand-out feature of this book, since the story alludes to multiple historic empires, the present space-farers' technology and varying tech levels - all of which are rich in lore. The other criticism that I have is the limited number of robot duels. But I guess this is due to the limited space that a novella offers. Overall, I liked Hard Reboot. While it is not a strong recommend, I wouldn't mind reading a full length novel with these characters in the same universe.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri

    Far-in-the-Future Sci Fi backdrops a lighthearted fun and friendly romp "starring" mechanized "gladiators " on the stage of Old Earth, connecting a risk-taker con woman and an introverted research assistant wondering how a simple academic research trip has upended her life. Far-in-the-Future Sci Fi backdrops a lighthearted fun and friendly romp "starring" mechanized "gladiators " on the stage of Old Earth, connecting a risk-taker con woman and an introverted research assistant wondering how a simple academic research trip has upended her life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This one just wasn't for me. I didn't care about the characters or the battlebots. Just not my thing. This one just wasn't for me. I didn't care about the characters or the battlebots. Just not my thing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Read this review at FanFiAddict.com: https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/04/30/mi... Hard Reboot is a lot of fun, and I think it is really well-rounded for a novella. I was impressed at how author Django Wexler was able to incorporate so many different aspects of a story into only 150 pages. This book really surprised me. Honestly, I envisioned a story that wall-to-wall robot fights, each with different strengths and powers. What I got was a nice futuristic story of friendship and love plus robot fights. Read this review at FanFiAddict.com: https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/04/30/mi... Hard Reboot is a lot of fun, and I think it is really well-rounded for a novella. I was impressed at how author Django Wexler was able to incorporate so many different aspects of a story into only 150 pages. This book really surprised me. Honestly, I envisioned a story that wall-to-wall robot fights, each with different strengths and powers. What I got was a nice futuristic story of friendship and love plus robot fights. I say “plus robot fights” purposefully, because that ended up being more of a backdrop than anything. The robot fighting is the basis for the main storyline, but there just is not that much of it. The narrative is really about two women, Kas and Zhi, each lost in their own way, and, surprisingly to each of them, finding themselves a little bit in the other. Kas, an off-world researcher, tentative and unsure of her place; and Zhi, an Earther living on the edges of society, making her own rules as she goes – are quite the odd couple. No one would match these two together, especially not themselves; yet, Wexler managed to take the hard lines of this world and bend them enough to help these characters discover a corner of it where they can find themselves. And it turns out they have more in common than one might think. While it is a good story, I did still find myself pining for more robot battles. At only 150 pages, there is room for it. Do not get me wrong, the robots do fight, and it is really exciting when they do. They just do not go head-to-head as much as I wanted. But, even though there was not enough robot-on-robot smashing for my tastes (to be clear, there is some – and it is really cool!), there is still plenty of action and suspense as Kas and Zhi navigate the perils of their current situation. Despite the fact that it was not constant robot wars, this book is really good. Hard Reboot is thrilling, futuristic sci-fi, action-packed and full of suspense – with a little romance to add a little spice to the mix and round things out. I have not often seen so much balance in novella, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend Hard Reboot for fans of futuristic sci-fi.

  12. 5 out of 5

    charlotte,

    On my blog. Rep: lesbian mcs, mlm and nonbinary side characters Galley provided by publisher If you’re looking for a novella that you can devour in just a few hours, Hard Reboot is for you. At once a self-contained story, but that leaves you wanting more of the world, it’s a book I highly enjoyed reading. The story follows Kas, a junior researcher come down to Old Earth, who ends up embroiled in a con by Zhi, accidentally betting a lot of money she doesn’t have on a mecha fight. When the mecha s On my blog. Rep: lesbian mcs, mlm and nonbinary side characters Galley provided by publisher If you’re looking for a novella that you can devour in just a few hours, Hard Reboot is for you. At once a self-contained story, but that leaves you wanting more of the world, it’s a book I highly enjoyed reading. The story follows Kas, a junior researcher come down to Old Earth, who ends up embroiled in a con by Zhi, accidentally betting a lot of money she doesn’t have on a mecha fight. When the mecha she bet on loses, she still owes, so she follows Zhi in an attempt to get out of it. Which, obviously, leads to them to go all-or-nothing on a second fight, to each get out of the debts they’re in. (Which, also, I realise is a massively convoluted way of explaining the plot.) I think what I liked best about this book is just how seamlessly the worldbuilding fit into everything. Obviously, novellas don’t have time to info-dump or to go in-depth into everything, but here I felt the balance between telling you some things and letting you pick up on the rest was perfect. Add onto that characters that you can easily sympathise with, and who have a great dynamic, and you basically have yourself the best kind of novella. In fact, they’re sort of characters that you want to know more about. Django Wexler, if you’re reading this, how’s about a sequel? I mean, really, in the end, if I had any issues it’s that it was only a novella and not a full-length novel. I suppose all I can do is go back to waiting for Blood of the Chosen now.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Novellas are always hard for me to review because I either like them or feel the need of wanting more. I definitely say that before every novella review I think, lol. Now with Hard Reboot, Django Wexler crammed a lot of aspects into a story that really was only about 14o pages or so. It was actually incredibly enjoyable between the characters and Wexler's incredible action scenes. So I am quite satisfied with how this novella turned out, so much so that if he ever decides that he wants to explor Novellas are always hard for me to review because I either like them or feel the need of wanting more. I definitely say that before every novella review I think, lol. Now with Hard Reboot, Django Wexler crammed a lot of aspects into a story that really was only about 14o pages or so. It was actually incredibly enjoyable between the characters and Wexler's incredible action scenes. So I am quite satisfied with how this novella turned out, so much so that if he ever decides that he wants to explore this world then I will strap myself in for the ride for sure.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adah Udechukwu

    Hard Reboot was a pretty cool short story. Django delivered awesome once again.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heron

    Hard Reboot by Django Wexler promised sapphics, cyberpunk, and giant robots, and it delivered on all of those things in a neat novella package. Having enjoyed work by Wexler in the past (Ashes of the Sun and contributions to the Silk & Steel anthology), I knew I wanted to pick this one up. While there were elements I absolutely adored about this novella, there were a few things that impacted my enjoyment in a significant way. Starting off with the great: the worldbuilding. I wanted this to be a f Hard Reboot by Django Wexler promised sapphics, cyberpunk, and giant robots, and it delivered on all of those things in a neat novella package. Having enjoyed work by Wexler in the past (Ashes of the Sun and contributions to the Silk & Steel anthology), I knew I wanted to pick this one up. While there were elements I absolutely adored about this novella, there were a few things that impacted my enjoyment in a significant way. Starting off with the great: the worldbuilding. I wanted this to be a full length novel for the world alone. The glimpses we get of Kas’ privileged world back on Sentinel were so intriguing to me and I could easily read another novella set there. I’d also like to know more of Old Earth, the different empires, the House, and more. Often in novellas the worldbuilding veers too little or too clunky, but this novel struck an excellent balance. It was also a queernorm universe, with polyamorous and queer relationships of several kinds being mentioned. For the most part, I also enjoyed the characters and the relationship. Kas and Zhi both struggle in similar ways to break free of restrictions put upon them, though the restrictions have vastly difference consequences due to the difference in their status. I’m always a sucker for the book smart/street smart pairing, and Kas and Zhi very much had that dynamic. The setup made it a fast track enemies to lovers situation and the trajectory was well and believably executed. However, though I realize this is personal preference, the prose in this novel was repetitive and jarring enough to constantly distract me from the narrative. I have no problem with swearing and love a good f-bomb, but not 67 times in 160 pages a lot. Combined with 57 uses of ‘slag’, an in-universe swear, I was grinding my teeth. Zhi’s dialect being written out with every sentence ending in ‘yeah’ and containing ‘ent’ made her POV a particular struggle. I did read an advance copy so perhaps some of these were edited out, but in my version it was enough to be a constant irritation. Additionally, I have complicated feelings about the pervasive thread of sexual references and subplots throughout this novella. While I appreciated the attempt to have an interesting dialogue about the differing social mores around courtship between the two societies in the novella, and I am all here for sapphic women owning their sexuality, it missed the mark in most cases for me. A conversation between Kas and a secondary female character (one with some importance to the plot) revolves solely around where this character can find someone to have ‘flesh’ sex with, only for the two characters to never speak again; this interaction in particular raised my hackles because I’m not fond of the defining aspect of a woman’s character in a text being her sexuality/desire. My critiques are largely personal preference which means Hard Reboot may still be a delight to many. If you’re looking for a fast, fun read with a great worldbuilding, awesome action scenes with giant robots, and sapphic leads, I would still recommend this novella. If there are ever more entries in this universe in the future, I would be interested in exploring it more. Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sapphic Bookshelf

    Hard reboot can be summarized as an engaging novella about mecha robots and lesbians. Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for the ARC in exchange for my honest review Plot: Kas, a young academic, travels to old Earth on what was supposed to be a simple research mission but she soon ends up entangled in a con by Zhi, a native and mecha pilot, whose crazy plan of winning an arena battle will be the only way for Kas to get out of this mess. What I liked the most about this novella was the fact that a Hard reboot can be summarized as an engaging novella about mecha robots and lesbians. Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for the ARC in exchange for my honest review Plot: Kas, a young academic, travels to old Earth on what was supposed to be a simple research mission but she soon ends up entangled in a con by Zhi, a native and mecha pilot, whose crazy plan of winning an arena battle will be the only way for Kas to get out of this mess. What I liked the most about this novella was the fact that although it is set in a distant future, the robots (the mecha) are presented as vintage tech! And how cool is that? It’s like watching Neon Genesis Evangelion and getting that futuristic-retro vibe. The worldbuilding was very solid considering the story develops in under 200 pages. I really enjoyed how off-worlders and native Earthers speak in different ways and have their own sort of dialects. The characters were also very interesting and charming, you can either love them or hate them but I’m sure they won’t leave you indifferent. And they’re also queer, which is always a good trait in my humble (and queer) opinion! Regarding the plot, I enjoyed how fast-paced and action-packed it was while also being critical of our dependency on technologies and phones. The story is set in the future but that felt very current, especially when it exposes how helpless we seem to be sometimes when we want to socialize without the help of technologies. I enjoyed this novella from start to finish and it has made me want to read any of the other books Django Wexler has written. Oh! And I’m also super into mechas now! 5⭐ / 5⭐ Rep: (L)GBT – Main characters

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Jones

    This energetic little novella has everything you could want from a SFF story: space travel, run-down far future earth, robots battling to the death, action, adventure, violence, intrigue, computer coding, annoying elders, sarcastic wit, and romance. I read this on a plane flight, and just at the final scene of bipolar to robot mayhem, with massive punches being thrown and robot arms ripped from their sockets, the plane landed, a bit roughly. I had no idea we were so close to land, because I was This energetic little novella has everything you could want from a SFF story: space travel, run-down far future earth, robots battling to the death, action, adventure, violence, intrigue, computer coding, annoying elders, sarcastic wit, and romance. I read this on a plane flight, and just at the final scene of bipolar to robot mayhem, with massive punches being thrown and robot arms ripped from their sockets, the plane landed, a bit roughly. I had no idea we were so close to land, because I was so wrapped up in the story. Wow that sudden and unexpected impact while reading about sudden impacts was … it was whoa.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gritnay

    Quick entertaining read of the very distant future.. and Giant mech robots fighting gladiator style, who doesn’t like that?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Lesbians and giant robots, what's not to love? Lesbians and giant robots, what's not to love?

  20. 5 out of 5

    iam

    Awesome and well-rounded SciFi novella that features giant robot battles, high-stakes scheming, and a sapphic, scholarly protagonist. Read the full review and more on the blog! Content warnings include: violence, death, debt, alcohol consumption, sex off-page, classism, implied negative associations with sex work, implied corruption of academic institution. I received an ARC and reviewed honestly and voluntarily. Awesome and well-rounded SciFi novella that features giant robot battles, high-stakes scheming, and a sapphic, scholarly protagonist. Read the full review and more on the blog! Content warnings include: violence, death, debt, alcohol consumption, sex off-page, classism, implied negative associations with sex work, implied corruption of academic institution. I received an ARC and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Virginja ↢ 99% imp

    3🌟 Hard Reboot is a short story about a bet. A wrongly pledged bet that puts two very different women on a collision course. Kas is a humble scholar whose greatest accomplishment in life is keeping her job at the Sentinel Schoolarium; Zhi is an Earth mecha pilot with an impending debt hanging over her head. The story starts when Zhi tricks Kas into betting on her old and crumpled fighting Bot, and from there a series of mistakes, shenanigans and quid-pro-quo keep the two closely tied despite thei 3🌟 Hard Reboot is a short story about a bet. A wrongly pledged bet that puts two very different women on a collision course. Kas is a humble scholar whose greatest accomplishment in life is keeping her job at the Sentinel Schoolarium; Zhi is an Earth mecha pilot with an impending debt hanging over her head. The story starts when Zhi tricks Kas into betting on her old and crumpled fighting Bot, and from there a series of mistakes, shenanigans and quid-pro-quo keep the two closely tied despite their divergences. This was a very quick read: I finished the whole thing in the span of 6 hours. Wexler’s writing is easy and accessible, the dialogues quick and the scenes flowed into one another seamlessly. Even if the concept could be used in a full length novel, I appreciated that Wexler decided to write something short instead: put in a larger scope, Zhi and Kas would probably feel like weak narrators, whereas in this self-contained story their quirky voices worked perfectly. My biggest pet peeve about Hard Reboot is that it is more about the characters than the bot fights — which in reality was the reason why I picked it up. There are some mecha fightings, but they are subordinated to other plot points. Wexler wrote a very light and cute sci-fi novella when I was expecting to read something way more brutal. Next time I better not build castles in the air.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Hard Reboot by Django Wexler, publishing day 25 May 2021. Kas is on a fact-finding mission to old Earth. She’s drawn to the battle-bot fights for scholarly interest, which then leads to her being drawn in much deeper – literally and figuratively. A sci-fi novella about friendship, diplomacy, love, and well-choreographed robot-fights. It’s amazing to see how well Wexler manages this story in only 150 pages! Also, great cover!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dax

    Fast paced and complete and utter fun. Reading Kas and Zhi's flirting was the most magical experience. Like watching a newborn doe try to walk. When you're on Earth, a dystopian hell hole, all the tools you've learned to use in understanding others goes right out the window due to malware, virus, and basically every STI of the brain one could imagine. Now enter in also mech battles and continue to have two badass women doing what they've got to survive and thrive! Fast paced and complete and utter fun. Reading Kas and Zhi's flirting was the most magical experience. Like watching a newborn doe try to walk. When you're on Earth, a dystopian hell hole, all the tools you've learned to use in understanding others goes right out the window due to malware, virus, and basically every STI of the brain one could imagine. Now enter in also mech battles and continue to have two badass women doing what they've got to survive and thrive!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Keljo

    If you enjoyed the Pacific Rim movies, you will dig this novella! I appreciated the centering of a lesbian romantic relationship in a way that didn’t seem exploitative, and the robot combat was well-presented. The audiobook was a fun listening experience as well.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality I came into this one expecting “Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em” mech battles combined with a bit of “academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small”. The snark voice in my head was imagining the academics themselves fighting it out inside the mechs, because that would have been hilarious. Also true in a very perverse sort of way. And possibly a whole lot of vicarious fun. It would certainly help some of my friends in academia vent some well-earned sple Originally published at Reading Reality I came into this one expecting “Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em” mech battles combined with a bit of “academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small”. The snark voice in my head was imagining the academics themselves fighting it out inside the mechs, because that would have been hilarious. Also true in a very perverse sort of way. And possibly a whole lot of vicarious fun. It would certainly help some of my friends in academia vent some well-earned spleen on the whole subject. But that’s not exactly what I got. Although it also kind of is – just not as directly as I was first thought. In a metaphorical sense, however, yes, very much that. And isn’t that just the way we think of academic politics? What underpins this story about a hard-luck mech fighter and a young academic clawing up way up the ranks from the very bottom is a story about class and privilege, fought by two stubborn, scrappy underdogs against systems that are designed to keep both of them in their “place”. Along with a thrilling high stakes mech battle. And love conquering all – even the dragons of academia. Escape Rating A-: I was expecting the mech battle. I was also expecting the scrappy underdogs. I wasn’t exactly expecting the romance but wasn’t surprised by it either. What I was surprised about was just how often and how well the story manages to sneak in a whole lot about power and privilege and the way that the amount of both you think you have has a whole lot to do with your environment. What makes this story work is the snarky, sarcastic, scared and ultimately defiant voice of Kas, a young scholar who doesn’t see herself as privileged at all. Because in the environment she comes from, she very much isn’t. But compared to Zhi, that underdog, under water in debt, underground and under the radar mech fighter, Kas is both privileged and rich and initially seems like a mark that Zhi can exploit without troubling her conscience one little bit. And they’re both right and they are both wrong – although admittedly Kas is quite a bit wrong-er than Zhi. Because if this scheme goes pear-shaped, Kas will be sent home in disgrace, will lose her academic place, will probably be re-educated and will never get even a glimmer of a chance to be who and what she’s always wanted to be. But she’ll still have a roof over her head, she’ll still have plenty to eat, she’ll still have parents and a family that love her and will support her even if they are disappointed in her. And she’ll live to see more than one century in good health – and possibly even two – thanks to the excellent medical care that is her right. Which doesn’t mean that she isn’t currently a third-class citizen – quite literally – in academic circles. And that the system she lives under isn’t set up to guarantee that she remains so. Because it is. But if Zhi loses the mech battle she will become an actual slave to the criminal “Houses” that run everything on old Earth. Or she’ll be killed as an example to anyone else who sets themselves up in opposition to the Houses – just like the friend who was helping her was killed as a warning for her. And if she just barely ekes out a win, she’ll still be stuck on old Earth, still under the thumb of the Houses, still threatened with slavery or murder at every turn. While worrying every day about whether she’ll have enough to eat and be able to scrape together and defend some minimal shelter. If she isn’t murdered outright, she’ll die long before she reaches her first century, aged before her time, because there is no medical care for the scavs like Zhi on old Earth. They have to not just win, but win really, really, really big, in order to make their dreams come true – but also to keep their nightmares at bay. And have a chance at keeping each other. So I came for the mech battles. But I stayed for Kas’ voice and the relationship she develops with Zhi. That they managed to finally put one over on ALL of the people trying to keep them down and out was icing on a very tasty, if slightly metallic, cake.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    Django Wexler's latest novella, Hard Reboot, is without a doubt my favorite one to date. It's the perfect balance of thrilling, science fiction, giant mechas, and LGBT goodness that I was hoping for. Scholar Zychtykas Three, aka Kas, sacrificed nearly everything to get a chance to head to old Earth with her academy's research team. Unfortunately for Kas, things didn't go exactly as planned. Fortunately for Kas, things didn't go exactly as planned. Within hours of landing on old Earth, Kas was b Django Wexler's latest novella, Hard Reboot, is without a doubt my favorite one to date. It's the perfect balance of thrilling, science fiction, giant mechas, and LGBT goodness that I was hoping for. Scholar Zychtykas Three, aka Kas, sacrificed nearly everything to get a chance to head to old Earth with her academy's research team. Unfortunately for Kas, things didn't go exactly as planned. Fortunately for Kas, things didn't go exactly as planned. Within hours of landing on old Earth, Kas was bombarded with the toxic ads that eat the best anti-spyware for a snack. It took almost the same amount of time for Kas to come across a con artist, one who flipped her world upside down. "So she'd thought, anyway. Now she was actually here an all she wanted to do was go home and stick her jacks in a vat of bleach forever." Man, I have been craving a novel (or novella) that had a solid mecha plot. Thankfully, Hard Reboot was here to deliver. Granted, the mechas weren't always the primary focus for this novella, as Kas and Zhi were kept pretty busy just trying to stay alive half the time. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me go back a bit. Hard Reboot is a novella split into two perspectives. First, there's Kas. She's a capable researcher, one who was hoping to find her big break on old Earth. Then there's Zhi; she's been trapped on old Earth her whole life. It isn't as much fun as it might sound, as the living conditions have been bad enough to force most people off-planet at this point (those that can afford it, at any rate). Naturally, when these two characters meet up, chaos ensues. I adored their adventure, as well as their budding romance. It was laced with humor and danger in equal portions, which made it perfect in my book. I love how different both leading characters were and yet how much they made sense in the context of each other. That might just be my bias speaking, though, as I enjoyed the chaos that came from the two of them. Thanks to Tor.com and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own. Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susanna

    Hard Reboot is a short sci-fi novel (novella) you can read in one sitting, but it manages to have both a rich world and an exciting plot. It’s set in far future earth that’s been abandoned to its fate millennia ago and serves mostly as a curiosity destination for rich off-world colonists or as a research opportunity for academics. But people still live there, making most of the opportunities the world offers them—which aren’t much. Kas is an off-world academic. She’s a third-wave colonist, and wh Hard Reboot is a short sci-fi novel (novella) you can read in one sitting, but it manages to have both a rich world and an exciting plot. It’s set in far future earth that’s been abandoned to its fate millennia ago and serves mostly as a curiosity destination for rich off-world colonists or as a research opportunity for academics. But people still live there, making most of the opportunities the world offers them—which aren’t much. Kas is an off-world academic. She’s a third-wave colonist, and while her ancestors have arrived on her planet a thousand years ago, she’s considered lower class and it affects her chances in academia. She’s clawed her way on an academic expedition to earth as a data-archaeologist, determined to make the most of her chance, only to learn that instead she’s expected to help a lazy first-wave colonist (effectively an aristocrat) to conduct her research, or do it for her. Kas’s visit to earth takes an unexpected turn, however, when she’s tricked into placing a huge bet on a robot fight by Zhi, the robot’s pilot. They’re huge humanoid robots operated from the inside; I imagined jaegers from Pacific Rim, but smaller and for one pilot. Kas doesn’t have that kind of money, but the system automatically uses the expedition’s funds, which puts her academic career in jeopardy. And that’s even though the fight goes for her, because she still owes the house’s cut. To avoid paying, Kas tracks Zhi to where scavengers live under the city and learns that Zhi has another robot, one that Kas is dying to research. Zhi persuades Kas for a double or nothing dare: Kas funds the restoration of the battle robot (with the money that isn’t hers) for a chance to win big. Since she’s already neck-deep in it, she agrees. For such a short book, the stakes are high, though unevenly so. Kas might lose her career, but Zhi will lose her life if things go wrong. The women are an odd pair, but friendship and even a romance form between them. And Kas ends up risking her life in the final battle too. The ending is satisfying and doesn’t leave the reader wanting for anything. I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura (crofteereader)

    Well this was a fun one! Giant fighting robots, far-future civilization, the balance of "pampered" scholar vs down-in-the-dirt worker, sexual tension, a sapphic relationship, high stakes / high reward... I wasn't big on the big (relative to the length of the timeline) time jump, nor on the seeming lack of repercussions for Kas basically abandoning her job, but I was pleasantly shocked by the gruesomeness. I wasn't expecting it and it totally worked to raise the stakes (and provide an excuse for a Well this was a fun one! Giant fighting robots, far-future civilization, the balance of "pampered" scholar vs down-in-the-dirt worker, sexual tension, a sapphic relationship, high stakes / high reward... I wasn't big on the big (relative to the length of the timeline) time jump, nor on the seeming lack of repercussions for Kas basically abandoning her job, but I was pleasantly shocked by the gruesomeness. I wasn't expecting it and it totally worked to raise the stakes (and provide an excuse for a great hurt/comfort scene). It's a novella, but it was great to see even the barest hints of Kas coming to terms with her privilege as an off-worlder on Earth, how she reassesses and overwrites her initial impressions. Sometimes you just need badass robot battles - you know? {Thank you Tor.com for the advanced copy; all thoughts are my own}

  29. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Recent Reads: Hard Reboot. Django Wexler's far future giant robot combat novella hides a tender love story. Archaeologist comes to Old Earth, meets cute robot pilot. Robot pilot cons her, chaos ensues, they fall in love. It's that old old story, with added robot gladiators. Recent Reads: Hard Reboot. Django Wexler's far future giant robot combat novella hides a tender love story. Archaeologist comes to Old Earth, meets cute robot pilot. Robot pilot cons her, chaos ensues, they fall in love. It's that old old story, with added robot gladiators.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rick Brose

    Maybe I am getting soft in my old age, but I had a really good time enjoying the giant robot fights and the queer connections. There is a lot of history built into this world, and the characters feel well rounded. As a novella, the scope of the tale is limited, but that does not take away from the fun of it all.

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