A book so bad…its…bad.
Years after discovering how awesome great writers can be, I still venerate the authors who dominate my bookshelf. But like any long term interest, a little bit of kindling has to be added to the furnace now and then to make sure I never lose sight of that greatness. And the thing which I find always restores the lustre to the great writers is to sometimes read a bad writer. A refreshed appreciation for writers of genuine ability is what I have taken away from this novel by Wesley Allison. I don’t want to say reading the book was a bad experience, because it wasn’t. It merely illustrated how one writer can take a single starting idea and build an incredible alternate universe, and another one will take the same idea , ignore the great potential of the ingredients, and serve up a sloppy Joe.
The premise and plot of ‘His Robot Girlfriend’ is simple. Set roughly 25 years in the future, Mike, a 50 year old widower lives a pitiful and lonely existence since losing his wife in a car crash. One day he gives in to the constant advertisements for an advanced range of super robots that can be designed to look exactly like a human, mimic all human behaviours, and work around the clock performing tasks for their owners. Of course, because the buyer can make them look like anything they want, Mike designs his purchase to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. And when I say they mimic all human behaviours, that of course includes sex, which their advanced programming makes them very good at. After the robot arrives, Mike’s life starts changing thanks to the feminine touch the bot he names Patience adds to his life. Inevitably the machine and the human start falling in love.
The book is really like a newer version of the 80s comedy movie ‘Weird Science’. Except that instead of a pair harmless but horny adolescent males learning the ways of sex from an artificial superwoman, we have a story written by and about a 50 year male fulfilling his sexual fantasies about a young 20 something year old. And instead of a main female character like Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science, who had sass and an aggressive dominatrix-like sexiness, the sexbot Patience is just a docile, meek and servile Geisha girl. Instead of using this rather promising angle for a satirical lampooning of the relationships between man and machine, and man and woman, the author attempts a sincere sci-fi romance which just falls apart and loses ones interest half way through.
The plot is almost non-existent, and goes like this ; Mike is the middle of a working day or in some other social situation, Patience shows up in a provocative outfit and causes some sort of a scene. Scene gets diffused, the two go home and have a relaxing evening of watching tv. Mike thinks how hot Patience is. Then they have sex, Mike falls asleep. Repeat.
The premise of the novel caught my attention because designing your very own perfect woman does sound like fun. And I quite like entertaining the thought of what a woman with Grace Kelly’s face, Ally Sheedy’s smile, and Eva Mendes’ complexion would actually look like. However, a book needs more than that. No matter how smoking hot my fictitious dream girl may be, I wouldn’t spend an entire book going on and on just about how hot she is. Even the most beautiful woman in history, Helen of Troy didn’t get more than a couple of passages from Homer in the Iliad extolling her looks.
‘His Robot Girlfriend ‘ is available for free from the Apple iBooks store.
S G Nelson