Told in the first person, Simon and his girlfriend Libby are headed north to Maynard. What starts out as a casual journey takes a bizarre turn when the Sat-Nav (or GPS as we in the States say) takes a personal interest in their trip. Libby has driven the first portion of the ride and when Simon takes over the wheel, she drifts off to sleep. It is while Libby slumbers that Simon has his first curious experience with the device. Convinced his friends have somehow hacked the machine Simon challenges them to confess and explain their trick. Upon waking, Libby is drawn into the mystery of the conversational Sat-Nav. The recurring message from the feisty device is, “I am here to keep you safe.” It was determined to do just that, no matter how hard her charges fought her. (I call Sat-Nav a “she” because she spoke with a woman’s voice.)
The story raised a lot of questions in my mind. Was the device haunted by some ghost? Perhaps a long-gone ancestor of Simon or Libby was determined to protect one or both of them from some possible danger? Is there some glitch in the machine that causes it to assume the personality of a woman? Most concerning is the question of the Sat-Nav’s motivation? Does she mean well or is she on some dark mission to lead her passengers astray; to take them down some dark, nameless road before driving them off a cliff, into a thick tree trunk, or into oncoming traffic, ending their fragile lives?
Beyond all these mysterious ponderings is the inquiry, have all Sat-Navs, GPS’s and similar devices developed the unique ability to interact with their owners? Does every machine now have a ghost of its own?
This is a delightful story that builds in suspense as it progresses. Even as a thread of fear ripples through the characters, there is a hint of humor. When the device has a bit of a temper tantrum followed by grudgingly graceful forgiveness for the disbelief of the riders, I had to smile. You can almost hear the soft, lady voice in your mind saying, “I told you so.”
Enjoy this quite read but ask yourself what you would do if your GPS suddenly told you to put down your cellphone and pay attention to your driving? Maybe we urbane members of the techno age need someone or something like Sat-Nav to monitor our sometimes reckless behavior.
“North to Maynard” is another Electric Eclectic neat introduction to the style of an author you are just discovering. Personally, Paul White is another of my favorite authors, for his originality, his skill, and most of all, for his vivid imagination and his ability to pick me up and carry me into the recesses of that devilishly delightful mind.
North to Maynard is a tale of an urban spirit, a ghost in the machine story for these modern ‘tech’ times.
It exposes something which could happen to any one of us, at any time…. even during a road trip, when you are travelling North to Maynard.
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