Title: Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Author: Judd Trichter
Summary (from Goodreads)
Bad luck for Eliot Lazar, he fell in love with an android, a beautiful C-900 named Iris Matsuo. That’s the kind of thing that can get you killed in late 21th century Los Angeles or anywhere else for that matter – anywhere except the man-made island of Atlantis, far out in the Pacific, which is where Eliot and Iris are headed once they get their hands on a boat. But then one night Eliot knocks on Iris’s door only to find she was kidnapped, chopped up, sold for parts.
Unable to move on and unwilling to settle for a woman with a heartbeat, Eliot vows to find the parts to put Iris back together again—and to find the sonofabitch who did this to her and get his revenge.
With a determined LAPD detective on his trail and time running out in a city where machines and men battle for control, Eliot Lazar embarks on a bloody journey that will take him to edge of a moral precipice from which he can never return, from which mankind can never return.
There are books that you love to read. And there are books that take you on such a whirlwind ride, exploring difficult and contentious issues with characters that are flawed, sometimes unlikeable, that offer no easy answers to the moral quandaries they pose. ‘Love’ isn’t quite the word I’d use to describe my feelings about this book. But ‘blown away’ definitely comes to mind.
I couldn’t believe this was a debut. Trichter creates a convincing and horrific world – a near future L.A. that’s painfully believable. From the politics of humans versus androids, to the cough that all humans start to suffer from as the polluted air builds up in their lungs, to the vices of a future where android women can literally play out any fantasy – it was like Trichter had a time machine and popped forwards a few decades, bringing back a wealth of experience to draw into his story. Yes, he does resort to the occasional info-dump, but honestly I didn’t even care, because the material was so interesting.
And the characters were great too. I really liked how they all played off each other. Eliot the ‘hero’ with his missing lover he’d do anything to find has the kind of one sided morality that allows him to convince himself that he’s doing the right thing. He likes bots and wants to save his bot lover, but he’ll spout the anti-bot vitriol when it suits his purpose. For every move that makes him seem the dashing hero, he pulls another that makes him look selfish. He’s complex and flawed, and I still couldn’t decide if I liked him or not even as the credits started rolling on the audiobook.
The story explores a lot of themes that are relevant to current affairs – taken to extremes and blown up in a way that takes the reader to what could be viewed as the inevitable conclusion of things we do now that are just ‘harmless fun.’ In particular, the objectification of women is rife in the story. A character asks a robot to swap heads with another to better serve his sexual gratification. She’s just a robot… Well, in certain parts of the world women are not held in much higher esteem. It’s uncomfortable reading at times, but really makes you think hard about the world we live in today.
Trichter makes lots of reference to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice throughout the book – the lovers of ancient Greece with a tragic end. It’s interesting, because Eliot and Iris’ story becomes a sort of parable or cautionary tale in itself. It’s difficult to explain what I mean without spoiling, but the Epilogue raises some questions that really got me thinking about the whole story in a new light – cleverly leaving readers with something to chew over for the days to come.
The narration of the audiobook is fantastic. Luke Daniels is one of the best narrators I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. With a challenging range of accents to deal with, as well as the cough older characters develop, there was a lot to challenge a reader, and Daniels performed everything brilliantly.
It’s not a perfect book, no book ever is, but it was such a thought provoking, interesting and unique read, that it definitely gets the full five stars from me. I’d recommend it to any sci-fi fan without hesitation.