Review #23: The Android Who Became a Human Who Became an Android by Scott William Carter

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Jun 13, 2010 in Reviews

Author website: http://scottwilliamcarter.com/
Published by: Analog Magazine, July/August 2010

Photo by JasonR611 Creative Commons

The Story:

Dexter Duff is a private investigator whose already hazardous lifestyle gets a little more dangerous when his three-breasted ex-girlfriend walks back into his life. She’d burned him bad the first time around, cleaning out his bank accounts and taking off with his ship. Now she needs him to help solve the mystery of what happened to her new husband, Vergon Daughn. Yes, that Vergon — the richest manufacturer of stepdocks in the galaxy.

What surprises Duff the most isn’t that his ex-girlfriend is now a multi-millionaire, but that she’d married an android, barely a second class citizen with limited rights. Not that it doesn’t make sense. Ginger had always been emotionally stunted. But then Vergon had gone off and gotten his memories inserted into real flesh and blood as a wedding present to Ginger, and to make matters more complicated, he had the procedure reversed when living as a humanoid wasn’t working out. He hasn’t been seen since. Now Duff’s in a tough position. Does he take the job and risk allowing Ginger back into his life, or is that all he wants in the first place?

The Craft:

SPOILERS

(Story opening available here)

I have to say, I really enjoyed the spin on the classic android becomes a human motif, and this story is a great example of putting a fresh view on old ideas. The story was a little off-putting at first for me as a female reader, though, the opening line being “The last time I saw Ginger, she was sporting two breasts instead of three.” Not that I don’t enjoy a little booby humor, but putting them out there right on the first line made me cringe, and I questioned if I wanted to continue with the story. A few paragraphs in, Duff’s voice fit the standard snarky private dick persona, and brought nothing new to the table, but I pushed through the questionable opening and was glad I did.

Once the story got going, I got wrapped up in the mystery surrounding Vergon’s disappearance and really enjoyed the world building that accompanied it. Duff’s conversation with Bwer Fwer, the biomechanical engineer that performed the human-to-android and android-to-human transferences on Vergon was quite comical. Bwer Fwer had the misfortune of being a single instance of a hive-mind society who are geniuses when they work together, but idiots when separated. Bwer Fwer compensates for this by using a device that simulates an Artificial Intelligence based hive-mind, allowing him to function at a higher level. There are side-effects to the technology, however, causing him to blurt out random lines during his conversation with Duff, making for both comical dialogue and interesting world building. Overall, the witty dialogue was one of the greatest strengths of the story, though it did tend to drag on too long in a few places.

The plot was well stitched together, admirably so. I enjoyed the twists and turns of Duff’s journey, and its profound alieness transported me to this other world. Character development was on the sparse side, but there was enough of it to propel the story forward. All-in-all, The Android Who Became a Human Who Became an Android is another plot-driven, pulpish romp through space. Mark that as the second in this issue. We’ll see what the other stories have to offer.

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