Diversity, Fantasy, Humor, Loved-it, Nerdy and proud, NetGalley, Scifi, Urban fantasy

Is There Super Fun Scifi, But Not For Teens? YES. Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom by Bradley W. Schenck

If I were you, I’d just read this book already. But stick around, if you want to find out why.

So let’s ignore the somewhat tacky cover for a bit. (I’m glad I can look past the cover. I’m better than that! But I know that I nearly didn’t click ‘request’ because it’s just… well, you can see it.) This book has anything a sci-fi, fantasy or just plain adventure story reader might want! I swear I haven’t read anything this fun since my teens – in part, because stories like this are often not written for adults.

It’s like only teens can ever get to have any fun. Pfff, right?

There are so many reasons to love this book, I think I want to do it in list form. And I will also not tell you anything about the plot, cause that would just be no fun. Instead, I’ll tell you why you’ll love it.

So why should any and every sci-fi adventure lover in this world read Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom?

A Retro Future

Imagine a world like Futurama, but with less modern technology. Basically, the future they predicted in the 1960’s: robots, rockets, skyscrapers, but no internet, no touchscreens. Info-nets connected by living, human women. Like old phone lines! (This is where the switchboard comes in.) Fascinating. It goes to the point where the story uses almost only old-style names like Abner, Freda, Howard as well! It makes for a completely engrossing experience.

It’s As Witty As It Can Get

The author of this one is pretty quick with his prose. Some of the sentences are so witty, boyfriend laughed upon hearing just the one quoted, even out of context. Unfortunately, I can not quote for you as all I have right now is an uncorrected early copy. So you’ll just have to take my GIF representation of how witty it was:

It’s Incredibly Paced

This book is paced just right! As of the very beginning, there’s no dawdling, things are constantly moving, and that’s what makes it particularly cinematic and dynamic. You just feel like you’re in the flow! It’s part of why I had so much fun reading it. And even despite this wonderful pacing, there is still time to reflect, and to joke around, but in such great portions that you never notice the switch.

The Correct Use Of Cats

I don’t know if you’re a cat lover. But there’s a high chance you are, and if you are… This book has some of the best cat-related jokes and plot twists ever! I mean, cats should basically be talked about as much as possible (#amirite or #amirite?), but even aside from that, some cat related things are just funnier than others. You’ll find those here.

(No, I’m sorry. There are no pirate cats, actually, as much as you might want it. But it’s close.)

Great Character Building

We don’t really have too much freedom for character development in this book, as the story spans quite a short amount of time, but the characters are wonderfully built. Even the secondary ones who are just adding to the story! They all have these little quirks, like robots with serious cases of OCD? Half-homicidal crazy twin kids you would not wish on your meanest enemy? I’m not even going to start about the insane miniaturized robot with an actual death ray. That was officially my favorite.

And Yet, Not Lacking In Depth

With all of this witty and fun stuff going on, you might think the book’s not that serious. But strangely, it is! The book talks a lot about slavery and its implications, about equality. It gently mocks the blindness of bureaucracy and civil service, the trust of power and money. The characters very gently promote the right kind of values, just by example, which would make it a good book to read with your children.

A New Kind Of Diversity

What I particularly liked about this book is this new, completely unique kind of diversity. Sure, we talk about #diversity a lot in book blogs. But how do we think about it? Can we actually untie ourselves from the confines of skin color, sickness, sexual orientation? IS THERE another kind of diversity, apart from that? This book finds it. It talks about a new way or coexisting with a completely different form of life – artificial life, taken on par with biological life. What happens in a society that starts building mechanical lifeforms, but eventually understands that they are conscious too? That they need to be allowed to earn their right to be free and do as they please? That they need to be able to better themselves and grow up, even if not physically, and make their choices? This is a whole new kind of diversity for me, one where it’s not just differences between you and me, both of us being humans – we’re talking differences on a scale of who and what we are at all. And what it means to coexist. And I think it was done unbelievably beautifully in this book.

When was the last time you read a sci-fi novel that made you so excited you could get up and run around? And what was it? Share in the comments!

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4 years ago

I loved this one too! I have a review scheduled to post at Castalia House later today.

I really liked Schenck’s take on robot rights. So perfect but so unexamined from that angle.

Terri @ Alexia's Books and Such

Have to admit that the cover would have made me pass this one by, so thank you for your awesome review! Adding this one to my wishlist!

4 years ago

What a brilly review. You totally convinced me to read this. I am off to hunt up a copy. I need a good laugh and the whole 60s vision of the future intrigues me.

4 years ago

I might just need to add this to my TBR… if only for the cat humor.

4 years ago

This sounds exciting! I will add it to the monstrous TBR…

Super cliche, but ILLUMINAE and GEMINA were my last run-around-screaming good sci-fi reads. I *like* sci-fi, but I just don’t read much of it. I’ve mostly read the older masters (Asimov, swoooooon). Timothy Zahn does have good sci-fi though, including dragons!

4 years ago

Yeahhh…not the best cover, but that’s great you still really loved this one. I like that it’s fast paced and has some good wit. 🙂



Nathan (@reviewbarn)
4 years ago

Nice use of GIFS. Quite impressive! Book sounds…fun!

Sunny Buzzy Books
4 years ago

I have to admit I wouldn’t have went anywhere near this book but your review has given me pause and now I’m curious! #getsocial17

4 years ago

This book sounds like a fantastic adventure! I’m always on a lookout for sci-fi that goes a little deeper thematically, so this one definitely intrigues me. Besides, cat-related jokes? I’m sold! Great review! 🙂

Di @ Book Reviews by Di

Oh yes, the cover… I’m definitely superficial when it comes to covers so I probably wouldn’t have picked that up!

I’m so glad to hear that there’s some really fun adult scifi out there! That’s awesome! The use of cats is… intriguing?

I think there is a definite need for diversity beyond skin colour and sexual orientation. It’s not all about that and saying that it is… well that’s kind of undermining the whole thing.

I haven’t read sci-fi in AGES… But maybe I should be.

4 years ago

“Correct use of cats”

Sold. lol


For What It’s Worth

Nicholas LeDoux
Nicholas LeDoux
4 years ago

Its an awesome review, and like what most of your readers are commenting, I’m making this a hunt. To look for this book for my personal collections of reading list. The last time a book make me feel like a rush, well, are all in my cabinet, some ready to be read again and again. But this book is definitely a book to read. I dont usually judge a book by its cover either and this book is no different although my child like spirit in me says that cover is cool looking. It reminds me of the cartoons I… Read more »

4 years ago

Great post. This book is new to me and I may just have to check it out.
Stopping by for #GetSocial17

4 years ago

I don’t think I could accurately explain why, but I adore the cover! Tackyness and all! I think this is such an original plot and it seems like the author has brought this all together wonderfully.

Mary Kirkland
4 years ago

I really dislike tacky covers. I haven’t read this one. #getsocial17


[…]   […]

Eve @ Twist in the Taile

I admit that I have never heard of this book, but it sounds EXCELLENT. More cats in books is always good. Definitely. And the world sounds super interesting! I don’t read as much sci-fi as I’d like, mostly because I find the ones I try (the somewhat confusing classic sci-fi books in my local library) a little difficult to get my head around. A sci-fi-ish book I’ve enjoyed that wasn’t Young Adult — which is most of my reading haha — is Vicious by VE Schwab. It’s more of a thriller with some sci-fi thrown in, but I thought it… Read more »

Ruzaika @ The regal Critiques
Ruzaika @ The regal Critiques
4 years ago

Okay, if the book is going to be even half as amazing as your review, I’m going to LOVE it. It sounds so freaking fantastic! And your gif usage is on point xD Lovely review, Evelina! You certainly know how to get one excited over a book- tack though the cover might be! :D<3

Julianna Aislynn d'Merricksson

Haha. This sounds like lots of fun. Parts of your review made me think of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ll definitely have to check this out.

Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

Yeah that is kind of a tacky cover lol. But I’m glad the story was so amazing! I’m still intrigued and trying to figure out what a cat-related plot twist could even be 😛


[…] Avalinah on Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom at Avalinah’s Books. […]

Paul Liadis
4 years ago

Sorry for commenting so much today 🙂

I’ll probably pick this one up to read based on your suggestion. I’ll have to remove the dust cover before reading because I am one that judges books based on the cover 🙂


[…] know what more to say about it? The feeling of reading it comes close to what I felt while reading Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom, The Graveyard Book and maybe The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own […]


[…] artefact that causes a lot of interesting things to happen. I also never seem to fail to recommend Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom – which is definitely one of my favorite scifis ever. What it shares with Doorways in the Sand […]