Book Review: Tekwar

This 1989 novel written by William Shatner (with Ghost Writer Ron Goulart) is set in the 22nd Century. Former Cop Jake Cardigan is released early after being wrongfully convicted on corruption charges. In the future, criminals sent to prison are put into suspended animation.

In the four and a half years he’s been incarcerated, his wife has divorced him and left him an empty apartment. Cardigan finds out the reason he was released was because the private investigation firm that his old partner worked for wants to hire him to find a missing scientist and the scientist’s daughter in Mexico, where Cardigan’s ex-lover Warbride has become a powerful rebel leader.

What Tekwar does really well is worldbuilding. It spends a great deal of the book establishing a realistic and intricately designed world for Greater Los Angeles and Mexico. It manages to create a solid hybrid world of a detective story set in a world with cyborgs and androids.

One of the interesting concepts was that he meets an android duplicate of the scientist’s daughter who has all of her memories and acts like her, so he starts to fall for the daughter before he meets her. I did wonder about the rationale for the criminal justice system freezing offenders. It gives up on  rehabilitation and appears to be a cost-cutting measure that instead just prevents them from learning to be better criminals while in prison. Also, I had to chuckle that some technologies in the book harken back to that symbol of late 1980s cutting edge technology–the fax machine.

The only characters who grabbed my interest were the daughter’s android duplicate and Warbride. Beyond that, the best you could say for the rest of the characters is that they avoided being annoying (with the exception of one character whose role was relatively small.)

The story’s pacing is off. This is a full-length novel with enough story to fill a good novella or an hour-long TV episode. For the length, I expected a mystery and resolution that was a lot more satisfying than what I got. The dialogue is functional, workmanlike, and occasionally dull.

Overall, Tekwar is a bit frustrating. The world has so many good ideas, so many intriguing possibilities as to what could be done, but ultimately fails to deliver a story that falls far short of its intriguing concept. Still, Shatner’s storyworld has great potential, if he hired the right ghostwriter to revise it.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5

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