Eliot Lazar loves an android. In his world, this is one of the most repellent sexual perversions there is. Androids were created for cheap labor. They’re objects, not people. So, Eliot hides his love for Iris Matsuo (and his drug habit) from his family and employers. Someday, he promises Iris, they will sail to Avernus, where they can live openly in a Pacific utopia. And then, Iris is kidnapped, murdered, and chopped up for parts. Judd Trichter’s Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is the story of Eliot’s quest to rebuild his lost love.
Any dystopian world with human-like androids is going to draw comparisons to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I haven’t read the book and saw the movie so long ago that I can’t speak to how much Trichter drew from (or didn’t draw from) Dick. There is no Voight-Kampff test or automatic expiration for androids in Trichter’s world—I can say that much at least.
Eliot’s father got the idea for android labor back in college. When he put his ideas into practice after graduation, he changed the world. Now, some androids have become terrorists—or freedom fighters, depending on your perspective. Eliot’s father and younger sister were killed by android “activists.” These days, there are pro- and anti-android factions. There’s mass unemployment. Emergency services are overstretched. And when Iris disappears, Eliot has no one to rely on except himself to get her back.
There aren’t many clues for Eliot to follow until he uncovers a sadistic trapper who lures and kills female androids. After Eliot kills the trapper (messily), he finds a laptop that lists the buyers of Iris’ parts. Eliot has to collect them from model agencies and junkyards and casinos all over the Los Angeles area. His stamina and determination are incredible. But he’s in a race against time as Iris’s parts are passed on to new owners and the police close in on him.
Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is a terrific read that, unfortunately, has a few rookie author flaws. There are a lot of infodumps. Trichter can build his world unobtrusively, but there are a few sections that read like textbooks when he decides to share more history than we need. Once I got past those, I had a great time with this book. Trichter wrote more than a thrilling science fiction tale. As Eliot pieces Iris back together, he has to confront the nature of androids. Are they the sum of their parts? If a part is being used by another functioning android, is it right to take the part back? Are human lives worth more than android lives if androids have personalities? Like all great science fiction, Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction will leave you pondering uncomfortable questions for a while.
I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 3 February 2015.