In the not too distant future, after the huge successes of role-playing games, virtual worlds and reality shows, it was only a matter of time before somebody took the next step. A remote island: a population existing only to entertain. Their lives broadcast around the clock and around the globe. Their actions dictated by their owners. It’s the world’s biggest game played by thousands. Welcome to Gameworld.
Dean 3012 is a good guy living on the Island. He loves his girlfriend, Lily, to pieces. With their first baby on the way, life is perfect. But when things take a sinister turn, the couple are plunged into a world of darkness and despair. Dean must somehow find a way to take control and fight for all their lives.
Amelia watches the game, given the gift of a Gameworld Character when she was but a small child. However, when her character’s happiness is threatened, how far will Amelia go to protect her?
The Bookworm’s Summary:
Clocking in at 200 pages, Automaton follows the story of Dean and Lily as they enjoy their blissful existence. They live fairly normal lives except for a couple of weird laws: No one can be out after curfew and when they turn in for the night, they must wear sleep masks. Violating one of these laws will result in death. But these are small prices to pay to live in the world that Dean and Lily live in. Crime is non-existent.
Things begin to change after Dean meets a woman who works as a bartender. When Dean wakes up the next morning, Dean finds himself against his will pursuing this woman. He tries to stop himself but nothing he does works. Dean doesn’t know it but his controller has programed this desire into him.
When Lily’s controller, Amelia, realizes what is going on, she starts taking steps to counteract this. She can’t understand why Dean’s controller would do this to Lily. Amelia thinks that perhaps she can reason with Dean’s controller. The problem is that controllers are anonymous. Once Amelia finds Dean’s controller, things begin to rapidly spin out of control.
The Bookworm’s Impressions:
This book is very well written. The characters pull you in immediately. There were times when I would forget that Dean and Lily were “characters” in Gameworld and not part of the outside world. In fact, it wasn’t until the very end of the book that I remembered that Dean and Lily were robots and not human at all.
Cheryl Davies does an outstanding job of taking the reader on the Dean’s journey. I shared in Dean’s joys, cheered when he attempted to fight his programing, lamented in his inability to do so, and ultimately understood the heart-wrenching sorrow that would overtake him.
The characters on the outside world were just as intriguing as the characters within the Gameworld. Being a reality-tv show junkie (Though I must say that I am not as bad as my mother. Boy, can that woman suck down some reality-tv!), I can totally understand the obsession of Amelia and the other characters in the outside world.
Of course this comes from a woman who occasionally creates friends/co-workers on The Sims and throws them all into a house together a la Big Brother to see what happens (So what if I keep preventing that witch a couple of offices down from going to the bathroom so she ends up wetting the floor. It’s funny. Don’t judge.).
I think one of the things that I loved the most was the intricate layering of plots. The outside world had control over Gameworld but in its own way, Gameworld began to influence the outside world. There were so many threads woven beautifully together: e.g. Dean and Lily, Amelia and Luke, the individual rebellions in Gameworld against “Big Brother”, the fight to overcome one’s programming (I might characterize this a mind vs. body type of fight), and the eventual total humanization of Dean.
This book is a quick and enjoyable read. I would highly recommend it.