The Punch Escrow releases on July 25. (credit: Inkshares)
The teleportation accident is an all-too-common trope of science fiction. The moral quandary of teleporters as “suicide boxes” and as potential human duplicators has been grist for many science fiction and speculative fiction writers, from George Langelaan’s 1957 short story “The Fly” to China Miéville’s 2010 novel Kraken (and yes, a few Star Trek episodes).

But that trope has been given a fresh spin by Tal Klein in his debut novel, The Punch Escrow—fresh enough that, even before its release, the book was optioned for a film by Lionsgate.
A compelling, approachable human narrative wrapped around a classic, hard sci-fi nugget, The Punch Escrow dives into deep philosophical territory—the ethical limits of technology and what it means to be human.

Cinematically paced yet filled with smart asides, Klein’s Punch pulls off the slick trick of giving readers plenty to think about in a suspenseful, entertaining package.
Watch out for those killer nanobots
Set in the year 2147, Punch is the story of Joel Byram, a self-described smart-ass who makes his futuristic currency as a sort of bot-whisperer.

Byram works as an artificial intelligence “salter” who helps train AIs to master the art of human interaction through the use of jokes and language puzzles. He’s something of an AI interface hacker as a result, and he has the skills required to linguistically trick AIs into elevating his privileges and performing tasks they’d otherwise not.
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