Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ARC Review: Evolved by N.R. Walker

In 2068, androids are an integrated part of human life. Big Brother no longer just watches from the shadows. It’s in every household.
Lloyd Salter has OCD issues with noise, mess, and he’s uncomfortable with human interaction. When his ex claimed the only thing perfect enough to live up to his standards was an android, Lloyd dismissed it. But two years later, after much self-assessment, Lloyd thinks he may have been right.

SATinc is the largest manufacturer of androids in Australia, including the Fully Compatible Units known as an A-Class 10. Their latest design is the Synthetic Human Android UNit, otherwise known as SHAUN.

Shaun is compatible with Lloyd’s every need; the perfect fit on an intellectual and physical basis. But Lloyd soon realises Shaun’s not like other A-Class androids. He learns. He adapts. Sure that SATinc is aware Shaun functions outside of his programmed parameters, Lloyd must find a way to keep Shaun safe.

No one can know how special Shaun is. No one can know he’s evolved.

Jewel's rating:

"​You can call me Ishmael​"

Science fiction was my first love and I do still love to read a good sci-fi novel. Evolved was the perfect mix of science-fiction and a study of the human condition - what is it that makes us human? What sets us apart from other life forms -- artificial or biological? What would happen if we took technology too far? And who decides what all that is or means?

Lloyd Salter is a Professor of Philosophy at Melbourne University. He needs order and structure. He needs quiet. His OCD demands it. His last boyfriend suggested Lloyd might be more compatible with an android since he is so unreasonable in his demands of order. It was meant as an insult, but Lloyd decided he might be right.

Shaun (Synthetic Human Android UNit) is a 'fully compatible' Class-A android. This means he was purpose-built to be more than the average android. He was designed for companionship, including​ - maybe specifically - ​ sex. He could be programmed for conversation and other things a person might want in a companion, and he is a top of the line piece of technology.

"What is love?"
​ ​ ​

Androids have certain rights in the world that NR Walker has created. Mistreatment of them is reported and punishment of those responsible is enforced. Consent is paramount. So, even though Class-A androids are made for sex, they still have to agree to it. Class-A androids aren't supposed to be able to initiate sex, however, or express desires of their own. They're not supposed to be sentient.

"This conflicted neural network issue I appear to be experiencing becomes more apparent when I think about you.” He took my hand. “My synapses seem to fire more quickly, and my internal temperature rises point zero-eight degrees when I recall the way you laugh or when you touch me. I experience elevated synthetic dopamine and oxytocin levels, only I cannot determine if it is synthetic or real, because it feels very real.”

Lloyd and Shaun discuss books, philosophy, and life. Moby Dick is one of Lloyd's favorite books, and they discuss it at length and Shaun offers theories of his own as to it's meaning and the metaphores at play in Moby Dick get some use in the plot of Evolved. It doesn't take long for Lloyd to realize that Shaun is more than Lloyd bargained for. That he was just more. Shaun figures it out, too and as he becomes more and more self-aware, their relationship deepens.

​ ​ ​
"If love is everything you say it is, that it is not logical or even reasonable, then I can only conclude that what I feel for you, when I think of you, when I am with you, is love.”

Evolved is one of the sexiest books I've read by this author​, and though Shaun's descriptions of the sensations made me chuckle at times, I found the sex to be sexy. Their relationship developed very quickly, but I still believed it. I loved Shaun's wonder at learning new things, and I loved his reactions to, well, everything. I liked Lloyd, as well. His OCD wasn't overused and once he could relax, he was a pretty likable guy. I could have, however, done with fewer utterances of "oh boy" .. that was Lloyd's favorite expression.

I loved Evolved, and the small amount of intrigue once it has been discovered that Shaun is more that "just" a Class-A. None of that took over the story and it was resolved quickly and without much ado, so the focus never ventured far from what it means to be sentient and the relationship between Lloyd and Shaun.



ARC of Evolved was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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