ZAK CORBIN: MASTER OF MACHINES
MG-YA For Readers 10 and Up.
For fifteen-year-old Zakary Corbin, it’s not easy having the same last name of a feared mad scientist. Just before the Second World War, Zak’s uncle ordered an army of his robots to destroy a military factory. Believed a madman and a traitor, Doctor Elias Corbin was sentenced to spend the rest of his life on remote Penitentiary Island.
Now a freshman in high school, Zak wants the usual things most boys his age want: the attention of a pretty sophomore … and his own robot. Neither is easy to have: his parents have forbidden robots and Lisabeth Ryan is interested in anything but him. Zak secretly builds a robot out of scrap parts and brings it to school, but the robot wreaks havoc and lands him in hot water. Despite the disaster and the humiliation, Lisabeth believes Zak is not as weird as others think.
Cleaning out the attic as punishment, Zak discovers plans for one of his uncle’s robots. This is not some battle robot, but intended to rescue injured persons and jump over vast obstacles. Zak knows this robot can prove why his uncle attacked the military factory: he did not want his life’s work turned into weapons. Convincing Lisabeth to help him, he builds the seven-foot-tall machine which he dubs Pogo. Pogo saves many lives. But when Zak wishes he could set his uncle free, Pogo breaks Doctor Corbin out of prison, leading to a confrontation with the military’s secret weapon: a terrifying giant war machine.
Set in a retro-futuristic 1950s, Zak Corbin: Master of Machines is a tale about family loyalty, pursuing the things you love, and being careful about what you wish for around a robot.
ZAK CORBIN: MASTER OF MACHINES was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition for 2012!
ABNA Publishers Weekly Review
This fun, fast-paced story of youngsters having adventures in an alternative-history past, a time when robots are commonplace, hits the mark dead-on. Young Zak Corbin is the nephew of the brilliant creator of the world’s most advanced robots, Dr. Elias Corbin — who has been imprisoned as a war criminal. His robots and even the use of their parts have been banned ever since he defied the U.S. military’s orders to build robots for combat. Zak shares his uncle’s gifts for science and machinery and longs to discredit Elias’s undeserved reputation as a madman and a traitor. He corresponds with his imprisoned uncle using a secret code to learn how to make an invaluable “disassembler” and, eventually, a fully-functional Corbin robot, in secret defiance of the law. Corbin robots are self-aware, however, and no self-aware robot with a mission can stay secret forever. Sci-fi purists may wish that the book held closer to its initial alternate-50s “transistorpunk” world-building instead of eventually involving computers, night-vision, and the like. But anyone with a spirit of fun and a yen for strong characters will find much to love here in the adventures and tribulations of Zak and his core group of friends. Streamlined, straightforward, and packed with action, this manuscript promises 300-odd pages of teenagers-with-robots fun, and it delivers as unerringly as one of its own thinking machines. A clear winner.