THE UNBORN by David Shobin
Kirkus Star


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Rosemary's Baby with a computer instead of Satan--potent nonsense, and just about the most gripping medical melodrama since Coma. Samantha Kirstin, a biology major, finds herself pregnant by a student she doesn't love but decides to have the baby anyway. And to get the necessary extra money, she volunteers for monitored experiments at Jubilee General's Sleep Research Program--which is watched over by MEDIC, a super-colossal medical computer that has reached a stage of artificial intelligence nearing human free association. Working under Dr. Jonathan Bryson, Samantha puts in eight hours a night, with her R.E.M. and brainwaves being siphoned directly into MEDIC. But then Bryson notices a strange blue blip appearing with Samantha's readout, and also a complete blank on the machine when she folds her body into a fetal position for a half hour each session: the computer seems to have picked up the fetus' brainwaves! Perhaps the fetus is dreaming, think Bryson and his assistant Rosemary. But the truth is much more elaborate than that: MEDIC and the fetus have entered into a dialogue! In fact, at ten weeks the unborn has absorbed the knowledge of a thousand doctors and is still hungry for more as it questions MEDIC for clarifications. Unsurprisingly, poor Samantha soon shows bizarre symptoms: she likes bowls of high-protein fresh fish eyes; her love affair with Bryson takes on a mechanical quality when the fetus demands the prostglandins in his semen to help it control the pregnancy. And as birth approaches, Samantha's ever more zombielike because the fetus is determimed to kill her off during labor by absorbing her last energies. What kind of baby will be born? You'll find out just. as this creepy folderol ends--which seems to indicate sequels ahead as computer-baby grows up. No stylishness in the telling, but a neat gimmick cleverly juggled.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Linden/Simon & Schuster