The Nikoto MH1 was the next big thing in Artificial Intelligence, an android so lifelike that it could easily be mistaken for human. Asked by her Robotics expert husband to help naturalise ‘Nick’s’ speech, Sarah Pettifer embarked upon a journey that would change her and her life irrevocably.
This was a thoughtful and moving story following a prototype android as it, tainted by human DNA during production, transforms from consumer product to sentient being. I confess that this story was not at all what I was expecting. It was a much more tender and less violent (although Nick might justifiably disagree) exploration of the subject than I am used to. Whether by accident or design, the extensive use of long sentences resulted in a gentle, flowing narrative. The author’s use of language was skilful and intelligent. Her excellent descriptive powers have created characters with depth and authenticity. They have also led to a backdrop and scenes that are utterly believable.
As many of you will know, I am a great lover of action and, prior to reading this story, I assumed that its absence would compromise my enjoyment. However, what this story may lack in set piece action sequences, it more than makes up for in depth and profundity.
The examination of how Nick and Sarah’s hopes and desires are dashed against the rocks of circumstance is touchingly real. Although I doubt that the author has ever watched as an android morphs into a human, I feel confident that she has experienced the profound disappointment of dreams being cruelly shattered. This led me to wonder if I would have enjoyed the story even more if it had been written in an autobiographical style. This is not meant as a criticism, It is merely a musing.
This Pinocchio theme has been explored on a number of occasions. Most notably, perhaps, in Isaac Asimov’s I robot, Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner) and Brian Aldiss’s Super-Toys Last All Summer Long (A.I. Artificial Intelligence). Maureen’s interpretation, however, seems to engage you on a much more personal level. I believe that is because the love story at its heart is something with which we can all more readily identify.
It is at this point I feel I need to address the ‘elephant in the room’. Whilst it is possibly inevitable that comparisons will be made between this and similarly themed stories, I am not sure inviting such comparisons by virtue of the chosen title will do this work any favours and I think the author should seriously consider re-titling the work.
This being said, however, it was a captivating and enjoyable read and definitely deserves my ‘highly recommended’ rating.
**** Highly Recommended