When the opportunity to read a novel about a rogue, self-aware robot engineered specifically to fulfill human sexual desires crosses your path, you don’t hesitate. You pounce.
The novel Sexbot by Patrick Quinlan tells the story of Susan Jones, a scientist who downloads her consciousness into a ninth generation Sexbot, the highest quality artificial intelligence not yet available on the market. Susan realizes, after the death of her partner, that she is the next target of two assassins hired by her company, Suncoast Cybernetics. After stumbling upon the fact that their technology could be used to create immortality, Susan and her partner, Martin, have become liabilities.
Through Susan’s perspective, we see the struggle between her own emotions and the lack of emotional technology coursing through the exoskeleton that no longer allows her to be human. When she comes in contact with men she is conflicted with her own desire to find freedom and the Sexbot’s overwhelming programming to obey orders and chase arousal.
Mr. Blue is one of the assassins hired to kill Susan and he, too, becomes conflicted when he feels an attraction to her Sexbot personality, named Nine. His chase takes ugly twists and turns, and he finds himself questioning those who hired him.
Howard Neale is the head of the company, and all things are going his way. Before he took over at Suncoast, they were trying to make better self-propelled pool cleaners, and now they make top of the line pleasure bots sold for $200,000 a piece. We see how he used to want Susan and now he’s obsessed with his lifestyle, selling immortality to the wealthiest people in the world. He won’t let anyone get in his way.
Showing the perspectives of several characters is helpful, and adds depth to the short story. The action is intense and well placed, but sometimes the characters waver. The fact that Susan’s emotions and human will to survive are in direct competition with artificial intelligence is wonderful when it’s being described, but sometimes she contradicts herself. When she’s running from danger she describes her lack of fear and thanks her lack of emotion for allowing her to stay cool under pressure, but later she is weeping into a man’s arms she met just hours earlier. Can she actually cry? When she’s facing a slew of men with a gun she aims over their heads, insisting she wasn’t meant to kill, but later assures the reader that she can “shoot a man’s eye out from 25 yards.” Perhaps if there were more added to the book these small points could be addressed.
Overall, the novel is a fun and quick read. It’s an interesting concept and the author is certainly onto something. Quinlan’s book is available as an ebook on Nook, Kindle, iTunes, and other ebook platforms.
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