Monday, March 4, 2013

The Bard Reviews: Automaton by Cheryl Davies

The Future Is Artificial

Take One: Cheryl Davies’ sci fi novel Automation takes social media, reality TV and online gaming to a whole new level –with deadly results.

Take Two: In the near future, our love of gaming and reality TV combines. Gameworld is the result: a Truman Show/The Sims-inspired digital world so realistically portrayed that the games have a hard time separating the game from reality. Each gamer controls a character in a game that operates like the most addictive soap opera. Each character looks and acts like a human being with all of our emotional intricacies in place. There appears to be no difference between the characters in the game and people in real life.

And there might not be.

The drama surrounds two of the gamers and their characters. When one gamer has relationship problems, he becomes jealous of the perfect relationship of his character. He decides to ruin it, not realizing the effect that it will have on the owner of his characters girlfriend. The dominoes fall, putting the two owners on a crash course toward one another.

The novel also has its mystery involving the true nature of the characters and the secrets of their ‘existence.’ I can’t say much without giving away the details. 

End Take: This is a solid debut novel from Cheryl Davies. She is able to lay out her futuristic world without getting muddled in unnecessary or overloaded details, but still paint a picture that easily translates to the reader. She does well in fleshing out her characters –one wonders if it is on purpose that the gaming characters are more likable than their human counterparts. Selfish human nature and the culture of voyeurism are strong themes that she presents without beating the reader over the head with the message.  

Four out of five stars

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