"What Makes One Human? Science Fiction with a Twist"
The setting for this two-book science fiction/futuristic
adventure is the mid twenty-first century. It is a very
simply written tale, fit perhaps for the young adult market.
Book 1 -- PLASTIC DREAMS
Though he is unaware of it, Austin is an unusual man.
Though definitely an adult male, his mind contains a mere
year's worth of memories. He has no known family, nor an
occupation. He has been told that he has superhuman
strength, a fact that should be kept well hidden. The
reason that Austin is unaware of his uniqueness is that he
simply doesn't know any better. From his first waking
moment, Jim, a guardian of sorts, a friend/mentor had been
there to provide for his needs and to instruct him on how
to "fit in". Jim had kept Austin isolated from others,
advising him not to get too close to other humans, and most
Yet for all of his conditioning, Austin has a mind of his
own. Though he hasn't let on, he knows his every move is
being monitored. Even so, he has managed to connect with a
female, one he has undefinable feelings for. Elyse is very
more than attracted to Austin. He has qualities that she
has not found in other men. He enjoys listening to her. He
is somewhat shy as well, and it is thus that she finds
herself making the first move. For the first time Austin
spends the night away from home and in the arms of a woman
he cares for.
Euphoria turns to panic when Elyse is unable to fully rouse
Austin the next morning. Something is obviously very wrong,
but when she insists on taking him to the hospital, he
balks. Austin adds to her confusion by demanding to be
taken home, he insists that he must sit in his own chair.
Though he is obviously critically ill, perhaps even dying,
she is left with no choice but to oblige him.
At Austin's home, Elyse searches frantically for medicines,
but Austin claims that he needs only to sit in the chair to
revive. As this makes no sense to her, and because Austin
can't really explain the chairs' purpose, he decides to
investigate it. Within the framework he is shocked to
discover a transformer. Jim finally catches up with the
pair and confesses the truth of Austin's nature. Austin is
not in fact human, but and ALF (artificial life form).
Though he now knows he doesn't have one, Austin could swear
his heart was breaking. He is certain Elyse will be
repelled by him. But Elyse has come to care for him so much
that she conforts him instead, pretending to be an ALF
herself. She covers her surprise over the chair by claiming
to be a far more advanced model created by a competitor.
The truth is revealed when Jim's superior demands that she
be brought in to be examimed.
Now that Austin knows the truth of his origins, the
superior, Carl, decides to give him more freedom. He
provides him with a portable charging harness which will
allow to spend more time away from home. In Elyse's heart
Austin is as human as she is. She is determined to afford
him as human a life as possible, offering him marriage and
a career. Both of these things are illegal for the
machanicals of their world.
Should they be discovered the penalty for Elyse would be
execution. For Austin it would be reprogramming at the very
least. The purpose of those such as he is to provide humans
with slave labor.
Though he'd known the truth from the start, Jim had come to
think of Austin as human, a friend, who eats, drinks,
feels, dreams, and obviously has bodily functions. It is
Jim who helps the pair escape when their relationship is
discovered. On the lam, Austin begins to have dreams which
make to no sense to his limited experience. He sees a man
lying motionless in a box with a lid. He has no memory of
this man. Inevitable the pair is run to ground and it is
then that the memories flood Austin's consciousness.
Everything becomes clear to him, he has been duped again
and Carl is at the heart of the deception. Is it Carl who
is not what he seems? This story, though simple has kind of
Book 2 -- ANGELS OF MERCY
This story is related and occurs sometime later after Carl
has supposedly been neutralized. Austin and Elyse have
initiated and effort to rescue others who are still living
Austin's experience on the slave planet Zyo which had been
under Carl's control. They have enlisted another couple
Mark, and his beloved Abby, who is also Elyse's sister.
Mark poses as a slave, submitting to the amnesia drug. But
as in Austin, his independent nature is not easy to
suppress. His rebelliousness results in significant abuse
from the guards. The guards' concealing uniforms ensure
their anonymity, thus making it easier for them to get away
with their inappropriate treatment of the slaves. Luckily
it also allows Abby the opportunity to pose as one, just as
Austin and Elyse have in the other dome. She is able to
keep an eye on Mark, and when she finds that he is in
of being seriously harmed, she provides him with the
antidote that restores his memory. Together they begin the
rescue, identifying the slaves and gathering them for
transport back to Earth. They have named themselves the
angels of mercy.
It is a difficult task, but the have inside support, and
plan had proceeded as expected until someone realizes that
Abby is missing. They soon learn that evil is not easily
destroyed, for Carl lives on in other guise. It saddens
one to realize that in order for there to be good, evil
must always exist as well. Hopefully, as in this story,
the good guys will prevail in the end.
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted February 7, 2002