Re-Wired by Greg Dragon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
He created the perfect woman but will he lose his soul in the process?
Robotics student Brad Barkley has created the perfect woman. The only problem is she’s an android, and her creator realizes too late he may have made her too perfect. After Brad’s ultimate failure with women nearly consumes him, he discovers Tricia, his android, may be able to rescue him from a life of loneliness, if he and the human race are willing to pay the price.
Re-Wired tells the story of a lonely, disillusioned young man who tries to set right the wrongs in his life by creating the perfect android woman. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Brad must face reality and the consequences of his actions.
The idea and accompanying social commentary (human beings’ relationship to technology, mistrust of robots/androids/AI) are not new as we’ve seen them before in other stories, TV shows, and movies. I won’t go into a discussion on those issues, but I will say I appreciated that the novel raised them as I did consider points of view I hadn’t before.
The strengths of the novel are in the relationship between Priscilla and Brad (which is also where the story gets most interesting), and when Tricia (android) has the narrative floor to herself. In the latter case, it was a pleasure to see her process human behaviour and draw her own conclusions, sometimes as a slave to her programming and others times as an enlightened, self-directed entity. Tricia is both a child and a woman, and she comes off as vulnerable, victimized, gentle, caring, confused and, eventually, strong. Priscilla is a dynamic character who lifts and drives the novel’s energy. In fact, I enjoyed reading these characters more than of Brad himself, who I found not overly interesting or sympathetic, and his dialogue often felt unnatural.
I also enjoyed the ‘twist’ in the story, though I did see it coming. It took the novel from a straight forward science-fiction story to something that bordered on fantasy. The only issue I had is that the blurred lines between reality and fantasy (psychosis) aren’t fully resolved so that I finished the story feeling confused.
Lastly, the story felt short and, for a science-fiction story, it needed more detail both about the technology as well as the world in which it takes place. There is an epilogue that explains the social context and history, but it would have been better to have woven those details into the narrative so that the reader has a more immersive experience. I wanted a closer inspection of the devices, programming and materials which make Tricia appear real enough to pass as a human. Playing up the contrast between her android and human self would have added another dimension to the character as well as the psychological dilemma Brad faces.
Thanks to Mr. Dragon for providing a copy of the book to review.
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