Celia Krajewski suffers from a rare, aggressive form of Alzheimer's disease. To save her life, doctors place her body in medical stasis until a cure is discovered. In the meanwhile, all of her memories are copied and transferred to a biomechanical android which looks and functions exactly the same as her human body. Her android body is so precisely identical to her human self that no one—not even Celia's wife Rivka—should be able to tell the difference. When Celia eventually recovers from her illness, her memories will be transferred back from the android to her human brain and she will wake without losing years of her life to stasis.
Except Rivka does know the difference, and can't accept that the android is actually Celia. To Rivka, Celia is lying frozen in stasis at the hospital. Cohabitating with an android is cheating on her wife. Rivka divorces Celia and moves out of their home.
Thus Celia begins her existence as a biomechanical person completely alone. She's grief-stricken and desperate. In an effort to ease her heartache, she reaches out to other biomechanicals... robots who embrace their mechanical bodies. Some resemble humans. Others do not. Under their tutelage, Celia explores what it means to be a machine, free of human weakness and inhibition. But no matter how much Celia immerses herself in sex or pain, she can't leave behind her human emotions.
I liked this story well enough—I thought Celia was convincing and her descent into self-destruction was appropriately bitter. I enjoyed the robots; they were cool, especially Betty, the android prostitute. She was aptly practical and a voice of reason.
I didn't care for the blunt parallels this novel draws between current social issues and discrimination against androids. I thought that was boring. Those same arguments are being played out ad nauseam in today's media, and I really don't think there is anything new to say. Besides, taking a stance that discrimination against androids is just old fashioned human prejudice begs the question of the reality of their existence, which is where the strength of this novel lies.
I was much more interested in Celia's relationship to herself, than in her relationship with her employer. I don't care that she was fired from her job for being an android. I do care that she tried so hard (and unsuccessfully) to rid herself of her human emotions.
This is a novel worth reading, but I skimmed the social commentary.
© All Rights Reserved