A scientist invents an extremely lifelike female android in this slim sci-fi novel.
Although creating an android physically indistinguishable from humans is illegal, Dr. Harold Okamura does just that in building Sally, with the backing of a powerful, corrupt CEO, Jerrald Axell. Sally is meant to function as a companion for men, and despite some misgivings, Okamura proceeds to the trial stage by having three guys try her out, a process that he finds uncomfortable and disturbing, as his own sentiments about whether or not Sally is a piece of property grow increasingly complicated. On the one hand, she is a computer who can be fully reprogrammed depending on the dictates of any given client. On the other, she looks, feels, and sounds so real that Okamura can’t help but think that he is betraying her as he watches each man use her to enact his darkest sexual fantasies. The novel is certainly provocative and raises some fascinating philosophical questions about what constitutes life, while also shining a light on modern man’s misogynistic tendencies. Sally may not be “real,” but the fact that men want a false woman to treat like an object is, by design, quite unsettling. Parker (The Death of Death, 2013) also brings to life quite beautifully Okamura’s relationship with Cran, his more traditional, robotic manservant, the irony being that this machine is much more human than either Sally or the men who use her for their pleasure. Despite some strong points and good intentions, however, this tale ultimately comes across as uncomfortably misguided. Although the sex scenes are meant to unnerve, they can’t help but also feel exploitative, making the volume’s ultimate message rather one-note. The story attempts to be feminist without delivering a major character who’s an actual woman. It’s effectively a string of scenes of men abusing (and, in one case, being abused by) a female avatar, as her male creator begins to see himself as her savior, without the book seeming to realize that this is also a harmful trope.
An android tale about sexism that lacks a strong human cast.