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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May Lightning Strike Us All, 1 Jan 2014
By 
S. Garriott (Everett, WA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Kindle Edition)
For many die-hard science fiction readers like me, the one factor defining the genre is the question of what makes us human. The old masters of the art--Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, and Bradbury--regularly answered that question using robots, trans-humans, and even Martians. My favorite novels tend to fall into that category, and I've added new writers to my list, which now includes Gibson and Bacigalupi. This is my first experience with Ms. Morris' fiction (I am well-acquainted with her book and blog on writing). I'm glad to say that she has produced a wonderful, intimate fable using her non-human representatives, the bods, as a mirror to see what we may have sacrificed, what we have become, and to what dreams we still have a chance to attain as human beings. From the first lightning strike (reminiscent of "Johnny Five"), a very special bod, Paftoo, leads us on a journey of discovery as he pursues passions only a select few believe he should have. Along the way, he acquaints us with others who inhabit his world, a world almost entirely devoid of human beings who are little more than minds ushered around in special cars, isolated from the physical world. These are characters--bods and lifeforms--I really cared about. Her writing is lyrical and beautifully visual. It is the hallmark of effective writing. Whenever I read online site content, especially dealing with writing, I always wonder if the content provider really practices what he or she preaches. Can she pull it off? I'm glad to report that Roz Morris definitely knows what she's talking about. I will be recommending this book to others, including those who may not be fans of science fiction. I would be proud to use this novel as an introduction to the genre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are we human, or are we dancer?, 17 Dec 2013
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Kindle Edition)
It's been a long, long time since I read a science fiction novel. Maybe thirty years. The closest I've come to doing so was the futuristic part of My Memories of a Future Life by the same author. I knew from MMOAFL that Roz Morris was a lyrical writer and I trusted her when I requested and received an advance review copy of Lifeform Three. My consternation in realising I had picked up a dystopian novel, and that the MC Paftoo was a synthetic lifeform, only stayed with me until the end of the first page, and then I realised the magic had begun.

Lifeform Three is a totally believable, some might say inevitable, scenario. Global warming, lands lost to rising sea levels, increased urbanisation and total reliance upon interactive technology. Synthetic bods manage theme parks based upon historical artefacts. When the sun goes down, the power goes off. Except something is different about Paftoo. To paraphrase the blonde who asked "Do dogs have brains?" the reader is soon thinking "Do synthetic lifeforms have souls?"

Then things start to get creepy. Paftoo has been here before, we've all been here before. Groundhog Day. But there's learning to be had, precious learning that can be tragically erased by a group "Sharing". After a few chapters you'll be begging the story not to put Paftoo through a Sharing.

Morris does a fantastic job attributing characters to these near identical androids. Although Paftoo is the one who breaks the rules, my favourite character is the enigmatic Tickets. Part ballerina, part nightclub bouncer, he holds the key to the story. He knows where that missing door on the cover of this book is.

Lifeform Three doesn't give us all the answers. It leaves plenty of room for the imagination. I really didn't want this book to end, it's that good. The emotional involvement reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, but Lifeform Three is much more joyous and less tragic.

It wasn't until the end of the book that I realised there's no sex in it. None at all. If you're looking for rampant robot sex then you've come to the wrong place. If you're looking for a gripping read, at times tender, uplifting and hopeful, then Lifeform Three is the one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A style all her own., 2 Jan 2014
By 
JAW "JAW" (Surrey, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Kindle Edition)
Ms Morris's work has a distinctive style all her own, such that I think I could readily pick it out in any `blind tasting' comparison with other contemporary writers. If pressed to characterise her literary voice I'd say it was redolent of `fable' - though not the Tolkien, round-the-tribal-campfire sort, but of a distinctly modern form. There's also a subtle dream-like quality to this and her first book too, in that the `real world' is plainly still there and going about its business, but the story at hand is the all-consuming thing to the exclusion of matters mundane. So: a hybrid of strong storytelling, fable and dream - a `fabream' perhaps, or a `dreable'...

But all that's mere labelling. The story is the thing and this story engages from the start, never falters and carries the reader to their destination with startling strength and speed. Which (far from coincidentally I suspect) is also a parallel with the powers of the marvellously realised `Lifeform Three' creature described within these pages.

If Ms Morris can continue in such assured and idiosyncratic style with her next book then she'll have firmly established a literary voice all her own. Whatever subject she then chooses (and her two extant books vary greatly in subject) will come with the guarantee of that unique authorial voice. And will therefore merit buying even if she decides to write about accountants - which is high praise indeed.

In short: a wild ride. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful descriptive writing, 18 Dec 2013
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Kindle Edition)
This was an unusual book set in the future. The action took place in a country estate, The Lost Lands of Harkaway Hall, a hidden valley of the past which has been preserved as a tourist attraction. Indications are given that the world outside this estate is highly industrialized and nature has been eradicated. This is a world where the sea has encroached and there is no countryside.

The main character, Paftoo, is a bod. And initially I was uncertain whether bods were people, robots or clones, but whatever they were it was obvious they were conditioned, and unable to think for themselves. It was the bods who maintained the Lost Lands, and they performed tasks in accordance with their programming.

Bods do not eat or sleep, they just swich off. Paftoo, however, is becoming more aware and he dreams when he should be switched off. His dreams show him riding a horse and he becomes obsessed with finding it, but the horse of his dreams is gone and he has to find another one to take its place.

I was totally pulled in to Paftoo as a character and he felt completely real to me, even after I realized he was a robot like all the other bods. Paftoo is different though. He has feelings and emotions, and he no longer switches off at night like the other bods. He knows he is different so has to hide the changes he is going through, but he is unsettled and spends his time thinking about the horse, and wandering the estate.

I don't want to tell you any more about the book or I'll be giving away the complete plot. Suffice to say that I found this futuristic novel thought provoking, and interesting. This is a world where there are lifeforms and non-lifeforms. The lifeforms are the animals and the `intrepid guests' who never get out of their cars. And the non-lifeforms are the bods who are park assets, like the tractors and the equipment.

But for me, Paftoo was more real than any of the lifeforms.

This is a book well worth reading, and it will make you think.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time to hide your prejudice., 23 May 2014
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Paperback)
Time to hide your prejudice. Women can write great Science Fiction. Read this Book. I believe that this book should rated as a Sci-Fi classic. I also wonder how long it will be before the film Industry recognizes its potential. I didn't want it to end and on top of that I learnt a deep love of horses. I imagine this book being treasured for generations. Congratulations to Roz Morris for a little masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! A wonderful tale., 9 May 2014
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Paperback)
I loved this book. I have to confess i do not usually go for books with a sci fi or futuristic theme, but this book was recommended to me and I'm delighted it was. For me it's appeal is that it really is a beautifully written, sensitive, witty, intelligent, thought-provoking read, and the bods are as real as any protagonists in human form.

The style of writing put me in mind a little of Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, but this has a more contemporary feel and is very relevant to our modern world. Not only an author, but maybe Roz Morris is a soothsayer too!

A compulsive read. Order it, download it, get hold of it now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written...unique, 27 April 2014
By 
Karen P. Inglis (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Paperback)
Literary science fiction comes into its own in Lifeform Three. Roz Morris's lyrical prose presents us with a futuristic world in which we get inside the minds of a select number of 'bods' that have been programmed to serve and 'niche market' to occasionally glimpsed humans in a theme park designed to showcase the 'old world' of countryside, which has all but disappeared in the real world. Paftoo, the main bod character, is different from the other bods - not only does he dream, but, unlike the others, he fails to 'switch off' at night. This allows him to explore, and as he slowly pieces events and memories together he starts to understand both his past and his and the other bods' doomed future. Wrapped up in this journey of discovery is his relationship with horses. Be prepared to be bowled over by the extraordinary writing that captures the majestic world of these animals - not just how they are and behave, but also the unique relationship between horse and rider as they get to know each other. I don't normally read science fiction but I'd highly recommended this if you like literary fiction and feel like something different.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very glad I got round to reading it, 25 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Lifeform Three (Paperback)
Like another of your reviewers it's been a long time since I read science fiction and I stalled for some weeks before buying this book. Well I'm very glad I did finally get round to it. Thank you Roz Morris for a very readable and thoughtful story with a non-human character who was more human than many who have populated other novels I've read. I was sorry to say goodbye to Paftoo and co. Like all the best fiction it holds up a mirror to our contemporary selves and it's an uncomfortable view. A very enjoyable tale that would make a good film in the right hands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life's Longing For Itself, 5 Feb 2014
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Kindle Edition)
In high school we learned a type of ink wash painting called sumi-e. The goal was to create a picture in as few brushstrokes as possible. Once a line of ink was laid down, that was it; we were not allowed to paint over that line twice.

This memory came to mind while reading Roz Morris’ brilliant new novel, Lifeform Three, the literary equivalent of sumi-e. In an unspecified future where mankind, surprise, surprise, has gone and bollixed it up, stands a nightmarish theme park. Once a stately home, it’s now maintained by machines and robots called ‘bods’,’made to serve’ and do the scut work.

Everything is geared towards the punters, ironically named Intrepid Guests, who bumble about, eating and generating rubbish, stitched to their Pebbles, defined by their monosyllablic clouds, bombarded by insidious singing and advertising. (Frighteningly, not all that futuristic.) But things are about to change when bod Paftoo meets Lifeform Three…

Morris takes familiar themes - as readers we all have our favourites and find ourselves continually drawn to them - and spins them into a highly original work. Tropes are shattered, melted down, and re-fashioned. Powerful messages and questions emerge without the reader being repeatedly coshed or made to feel guilty.

Will what makes us human survive mechanisation and supertechnoeficiency? What does make us human, anyway? And will life, like Kahlil Gibran’s children, always long for itself?

Honestly? I don’t know about life, but I’m jealous of the way Morris can, in so few words, illuminate a scene or a character, sometimes heartbreakingly so, as with an excluded character metaphorically wiped away in a brave new world where, sadly, the old hierarchies continue.

I have not read speculative fiction of this calibre since Ray Bradbury was in his prime. And though not as High Gothic, Morris’s work also reminds me of Mervyn Peake, himself a creator of unforgettable words and worlds.

As to whether this is a work of science fiction or fantasy: the artist Ben Shahn once noted, ‘If artists were asked to choose a label, most would choose none.’ Lifeform Three is one of those books that not only transcends, but possibly transforms, genre. Its appeal covers a broad spectrum. The young, drawn in by the Mangaesque main characters and the deceptively simple prose, would enjoy the novel as much as us elders, and everyone inbetween.

There is so much more I want to say about Lifeform Three. But that would only delay you purchasing it. Please experience Morris’s wonderful novel for yourself - you will be the richer for losing yourself in this haunting word-painting, of dreams, of longing, of life, of love.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morris is a writer in a class of her own., 3 Feb 2014
By 
Jessica Bell (Greece) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lifeform Three (Paperback)
Wow. Eloquently written. Story line engrossing. Those of you who believe literary fiction is boring, read this book. Your mind will be changed forever.

I am tempted to compare Roz Morris's style to Margaret Atwood's. But I'm not sure that will do it justice. Though this book has a similar "feel" to Atwood's science fiction novels, because of its literary nature, the comparison is still weak, because Morris is a writer in a class of her own.

This is a remarkable novel. And Paftoo, the main character, really stole my heart. I will remember him always. As if he was a very close friend. I am so sad this book is over. And I CANNOT WAIT, until Morris writes another.
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