That's what a 32-year-old perennial loser named Chet Finley discovers one day. Chet wakes up one morning to find his girlfriend has abandoned him. On his way to work he gets into a scuffle with a hot dog vendor, which makes him late for work. Then he loses his job when he spills a pitcher of cream on a woman at the coffeehouse where he works. But those are just appetizers for the main course of terrible things to happen to him.
Chet's weird hobby is restoring old computers: Commodores, Amigas, Ataris, Tandys, etc. To take his mind off things he's working on one, but it has a bad power cord that shocks him. That little shock is enough to reveal his "guardian angel," a robot who goes by the name Ziggy. Before Chet can find out what's going on, a team of heavily-armed robots storms his apartment. With help from Ziggy, Chet is barely able to escape.
They circuitously flee to France aboard a freighter loaded with counterfeit DVDs. Along the way, Ziggy reveals that there are hidden robots all over Earth, monitoring its occupants. For scientific research? For galactic domination? Nope, for gambling. One of the galaxy's favorite past-times is betting on the activities of puny humans. Robots like Ziggy work for an entity known as RIGGED that as the name implies rigs things to favor the house. And RIGGED will do anything to keep their secret quiet, including eliminating Chet and Ziggy.
The only one they can turn to is a black widow named Sadie, who's a shape-shifting assassin formerly in RIGGED's employ. Sadie agrees to sneak Chet and Ziggy off Earth using an almost literal wormhole, as it's a hole in space created by a giant worm.
From there Chet, Ziggy, and Sadie look for clues about where to find RIGGED's upper echelon in order to bring them down. The search takes them from a library run by giant birds to a casino that puts Vegas to shame, to a bizarre planet with only one inhabitant. Along the way there are a variety of weird alien creatures.
Basically if you liked the Hitchhiker's Guide books or especially TV's Futurama then you'd probably like this book. And also if you ever wondered what two giant Care Bears having sex would be like, then you'd really like this book. If you want a hint, you can read this entry on my old blog. And if you want to read about robots having sex, then read this entry from the old blog.
Here are a couple of Fun Facts:
- The original title was "Chet Finley and the Machines of Fate" but it occurred to me later that versus worked better because it's the machines he's fighting against.
- In the first draft at the end was a "Buckaroo Banzai"-ish bit saying "Chet Finley will return in 'Chet Finley vs. the Circuits of Time', but since I've never really given much thought to actually writing the sequel I took that bit out so as not to confuse anyone who might think there was actually a sequel on the horizon.
- I wrote this after I had finished the first drafts of the entire Scarlet Knight series, plus a spinoff story that focused on Sylvia the witch. It was part of my writing binge in 2010.
- This is pretty much the only comedic piece of writing I've done and it was tough.