The Prince and the Program by Aldous Mercer
Author: Aldous Mercer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Blurb: Mordred Pendragon, the Bastard Prince, has done a Bad Thing—again. Exiled to Canada for seven years, he has to find a job to pay his bills. For reasons he refuses to reveal, Mordred decides “Software Engineer” has a nice ring to it. And though experience with “killing the Once and Future King, my father” and “that time in feudal Japan” makes for a poor résumé, he is hired by a small tech startup in Toronto.
In the midst of dealing with a crippling caffeine addiction and learning C++, Mordred thinks he has finally found someone to anchor him to the world of the living: Alan, the company’s offsite lead developer. Except that Alan might not be a “living” entity at all—he may, in fact, be the world’s first strong AI. Or a demon that mistook a Windows install for the highway to Hell. Or, just maybe, the ghost of Alan Turing, currently inhabiting a laptop.
Mordred’s attempts to figure out his love life are hampered by constant interference from the Inquisitors of the Securitates Arcanarum, corporate espionage, real espionage, a sysadmin bent on enslaving the world, and Marketing’s demands that Mordred ship software to the Russian Federation. Then Alan gets himself kidnapped. To save him, Mordred must ally himself with the company’s CEO, who will stop at nothing to rescue her lead developer so he can get back to work. But the Prince doesn’t just want to rescue Alan, he wants a Happily Ever After—and he will travel beyond Death itself to get one.
Too bad Alan is perfectly happy as a computer.
Good gawd, honeys! This book made me think far too much. It assumed I would be in possession of all kinds of esoteric computer knowledge about IRC, programming, and code.
As it happens, I’m acquainted with it all but it’s been a while. I can’t remember the last time I worked so hard to keep up with a story. I like being challenged, and this book did that. I was always one step behind (until I gave up entirely; see below), and my IQ is way higher than room temperature.
There is a lot about this book I didn’t get. It went right over my head, darlings! But I kept reading because I loved the characters. There were times when I laughed out loud and exhilaration made me toss my feather boa in the air! The author has a wonderful wit.
Three-quarters of the way in, the story left the almost-comfortable world of a small start-up company and shot off in a direction that left me sitting on my ass in the dust, mouth open and arms akimbo, as I tried to figure out what had happened.
And guess what, darlings? I never did! The story I had successfully struggled to keep up with tossed me to the side of a country road and I was left standing there with my thumb out, hoping for a ride.
No car ever did show up and I was forced to walk home in my red spike heels, and you know shoes like that were only meant for dancing! I arrived home tired with blisters on my feet, and lovies, I was not in a good mood.
I’m giving the first three-fourths of the book a four. The last fourth gets a two. Overall, I’m gaylisting this one as a three.
Reviewed by Red Licorice