What can go wrong when a hacker programs a fleet of factory mining ships, destine for a faraway planet, with blueprints from a toy shop instead of the usual heavy-duty machinery required for the task? Thomas Gondolfi answers this question in his book “Toy Wars”. Ever wanted to read about a teddy bear army with machine guns, or a sniper giraffe, or how about a pink poke-a-dot brute elephant? Don’t get me wrong, this is not a kid’s story nor is it a light hearted and fluffy story about toys. Not at all.
Toy Wars at times is a light hearted and fun story, however the author also focuses on many complex and deeper topics in this book than just toys. He does a great job of bringing the many characters to life and shows their many different struggles. John Hough does an excellent job narrating the book and its many characters. I was easily brought into this unique world and did not want to leave until it was done. The story is detailed and I could see it being made into a movie, but audiences may be confused if it is a kids or adult movie. I found it refreshing that this was not a series, but it was so good I look forward to other material by this author; maybe in the same world.
I want to say that I went into this book because of the many positive reviews, and I was not disappointed after I had finished it. It was a little science fiction with its space travel, futuristic with the factory AI (discussed later), but the author also included many aspects around friendship, relationships and the desire to survive no matter what one’s programming says. The best way I can describe this unique story is to think “The Martian” but with toys. Stranded on a planet where nearly everything, including your own creator, wants to kill you takes tenacity. The main character suffers in many ways, be he also overcomes only through the help of others.
In the future, humans are still unable to travel at the speed of light to reach distant planets. However, they quickly discovered that non-living objects could be sent to these planets and mine the precious resources; afterwards returning them to earth. Man programmed these factory ships to travel to a single planet, destroy the local inhabitants, and strip it of the required resources. Once done, the resources would be sent back to Earth.
This all seemed like a good plan until a hacktivist penetrated the code of three of the ships prepared to depart and directed them to all land on the same planet while also uploading schematics of a toy producer replacing those of the machine equipment that will be constructed once it arrives on the planet. Upon their arrival, not only do the factories (Ai) start to turn our unique and interesting robots based on a combination of toys and mining machines, it also constructs an army to conquer the planets inhabits no matter the cost. What each of the three AI factories is not aware of is that each of them landed on the same planet and will be battling not only for the resources, but one another for dominance.
I found the book fascinating and well written. The author creates believable and likable characters that are not super-human (toy). Each has its weakness and strengths based on the role is was assigned by the factory. Soldiers, snipers, brutes, etc. are all included in this mayhem of toy-based characters. The book is also more than just a battle between factories, it also involves deep friendships, complex situations, along with many other challenges one could face in this situation. What better could handle this pressure than a teddy bear with an M-16 rifle. It is a journey for survival and reconciliation. It is a story you will not quickly forget; in a good way.
John Hough did an exceptional job of bringing this book to life and as stated earlier, the narration was professional and without any recognizable audio artifacts heard such as swallowing, background noise, etc. As of this writing, he has not narrated many books on Audible, but I did enjoy his voice and pace of the book read.
The book is well worth your time, I spent my own Audible credit for this book, and I was not sorry I did.