Essays

Book Review: Re-Wired by Greg Dragon

Re-WiredRe-Wired by Greg Dragon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BLURB:

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.

REVIEW:

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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Book Review

Book Review: The White Plague by Frank Herbert

The White PlagueThe White Plague by Frank Herbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blurb: The White Plague, a marvelous and terrifyingly plausible blend of fiction and visionary theme, tells of one man who is pushed over the edge of sanity by the senseless murder of his family and who, reappearing several months later as the so-called Madman, unleashes a terrible plague upon the human race—one that zeros in, unerringly and fatally, on women.

Review: 

This book was a challenge to read, and not entirely in a good way. I found it dry and full of science-babble and characters I didn’t care much about. In fact, the priest and The Boy (and even Joseph in his own way) were the most interesting characters, and I thought their story-line the most moving. I basically read the story to find out what happened to them. Some characters who I thought were supposed to gain my sympathy I found irritating instead (Kate, especially). John, the main character, was difficult to relate to and, though I did manage to empathize with him over all, I found his end unsatisfying as a character and in regards to the story. The book also felt dated. I kept asking myself what year it was because people seemed so out of touch with modern living, even if it was the 80’s (my guess). But then I thought it might be due to cultural differences–vocabulary, and stylized dialogue, for example. The story is good where it explores difficult social, ideological, political, and scientific questions. And the writing itself is exceptional. However, so much emphasis was put on “What is the plague and how do we cure it?” that I felt other important details about how the world was affected glossed over. Why were there mobs and what did they hope to gain by razing everything in sight? What conditions led to pockets of women being preserved while others weren’t? Had John created more viruses and what were they? Why did he get so sick when he arrived in France? Questions like those bothered me throughout. To me, exploring their answers would have been more interesting to read about than the science-babble and the political posturing that runs through the story. Recommended for people who like hard-science fiction, complex socio-political stories with many characters, and readers who like to be left thinking once they close a book.

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Misc, Stories

Nor’easter by Dyane Forde

It’s here! My story, Nor’easter, short-listed for the Storgy writing contest is published!

NOR’EASTER

by

Dyane Forde

typewriter love

North

“Wake up.”

I opened my eyes against the morning glare but immediately shrunk back from a headache. White and black stars pulsed before my eyes; those two words, “Wake up”, a hammer pulverising the side of my face. Wind blew in from the open window, admitting a mean downdraft which pressed me into the bed. I knew, from the smell of rot trailing in on the draft, how this scene was going to end: a storm was coming, and that storm was me.

The voice. It was Dale’s. Uncle Dale, my blood. My savior. I shook my head to let the information slide into place, but my brain rebelled. It crackled with pain, interference. Tenderly, I put a hand to my forehead, as if that would steady the tumult inside, and felt relief. My face, my skin, my head were whole. Only, I wasn’t. Skin…

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