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Automatic Lover Paperback – 15 Sep 2008
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Top customer reviews
When a young engineer, Andrea, has a lottery win she uses the money to set up her own business and to assist her in this purchases the most advanced robot available. It turns out to be an assistant in all aspects of her life, including sexuality. A robot engineer, Wendy, already established and with her own family, becomes involved in sorting out initial problems that are the basis for the first part of this book, written as a novella. Her daughter Felicity becomes a major character in the "sequel" as she has reached puberty and is challenged by the problems it poses, whilst her mother is leading a team designing robots that will be sex slaves.
Sex is dealt with frankly throughout and the story tackles the issues of how robots may become involved with humans as machine intelligence and associated technologies advance, reflecting the author's involvement with the development of the Loebner prize winning chatbot "Joan".
The twists and turns of the plot are fascinating, making this book well worth a read.
The scenes with the engineering team really cracked me up (despite the anachronisms of drawings etc.) in their portrayal of homo engineericus (male and female) - I guess because I could imagine the hilarity of working on such a project with my own (male) engineering colleagues (we can have a good laugh discussing nuts and bolts never mind designing genitals)...and the author captures the culture rather accurately.
It is true that the writing improves as the book continues and that the subject matter lends itself to groans (as the heroine keeps rediscovering). To focus on these is to miss the important things about this pointed piece of story telling. I am not aware of any other work which so brutally honestly tells things like they are, stream of consciousness, from a technically competent woman's point of view, covering so much of what matters in life across the generations. I suspect that's a first. Plus there is a nuanced philosophical discussion of robot personhood and ethics here. Of course, we women are not all the same and I imagine some stripes of feminist will hate this story. But the book should stand as empirical evidence for them to consider, representative of the experiences and worldviews of at least some of the women who made satisfying technical careers in the late twentieth century.
I thoroughly recommend reading it to anyone, male or female, young or old, with a good sense of humour, and a little curiosity about how others might experience sex.
It is written around a central character who's a strong woman, rather than the bold strong masculine type of hero many are used to with other Sci-Fi novels.
The plot is set in the future and centres around the development of robots designed to have sexual relationships with humans, either as companions or as 'workers' in brothels. The chief engineer's teenage daughter is desperate to get her hands on the prototype...
Read on - this book is great fun!