The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport

Tor.com. Oct. 2023. 416p. ISBN 9781250827517. $28.99. SF
In the far-future, on a planet that might be dying, is the sinking city of Shantiport, currently ruled by Tiger Clan and full of surveillance drones, bots, and plenty of corruption. There, human Lina and her robot-monkey brother Bador scavenge for treasure, hoping to find a ring that could change their future. Bador’s recent scavenging efforts have produced a story-bot named Moku, who documents his users’ lives but also has impressive abilities to deactivate surveillance bots, which the siblings quickly put to use. Their family is under more surveillance than usual because their father, before his disappearance, was suspected of joining the resistance and smuggling alien tech. Soon, their lives become even more challenging when oligarch Shakun Antim believes that Lina is the key to unlocking her father’s hiding place for a great alien treasure—the jinn-bot, which will grant its user three wishes.
VERDICT Between Moku’s endearing charm and Bador’s expressive eyemojis and heroic ambitions, including winning a bot martial arts tournament, the bots steal the show in Basu’s (The City Inside) fantastic, futuristic take on the “Aladdin” story.
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