Friday, 6 March 2015
Book review - Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan
In a world where advanced technology has made paperwork near extinct, Jane Colt has made an enemy of machines. After watching her friend Adam kidnapped by a strange looking robot, she goes on a hunt to rescue him. Devin, Jane's brother, has made a surprising discovery of his and joins Jane with his own rescue plan for his "missing" fiancée. Together, the Colt siblings discover just how far technology has advanced, and just how flawed it has become.
I had the privilege to read 'Artificial Absolutes' a few years ago in its early stages as part of an online critique group. Admittedly I hadn't read the entire manuscript, but what I had read was captivating. I'm glad to say that part hadn't changed. I'm honoured that Fan remembered me and asked me to review her novel.
I have to say that I was hooked from the start. While the world itself isn't necessarily one we haven't seen before, or the idea of a super AI, it's how it came together that really shows how unique the novel is. While the dialogue and characters are realistic and colloquial, the narration is beautifully nuanced. The point of view switches were seamless, and it was nice to see it flip around to get a different feel for the world in which they lived.
At times it felt a bit corny with all the computer hacking, but I'm not techy so for all I know it could have been pretty accurate. What I found beautiful was the theme of humanity, grace/faith, and forgiveness all intertwined throughout the novel. Every single character battled some issue of faith - in a higher being, themselves, or each other - at some point. Many people overlook religion in sci-fi novels, but whether people like it or not it has been part of civilization since the agricultural revolution. This addition helped make the story even more realistic and relatable. It also gave an interesting point of view, especially with Adam as the seminary student.
I could go on and on and describe every single aspect that I loved about the novel, but instead I'll say that 'Artificial Absolutes' is a well-rounded, unique, and clever novel. The character development works well, and nothing seems forced which is a pet peeve of mine. Everything feels planned, and we're given enough details to keep us going. Near the end I felt a bit of a shift, whether it was in my reading or how it was written. Either way, I couldn't stop. It's one of those novels that as soon as I finish I want to read all over again. Although this is the first in the Jane Colt series, 'Artificial Absolutes' works well as a stand alone novel. The characters have gone where they needed to go, learned what they needed to learn. And I'm quite content with that. I look forward to reading more of Fan's work.
Get the book on Amazon
Check out Mary Fan's website