Book Review: Automaton by Cheryl Davies

Automaton

Is this the real life?  Is this just fantasy?                                                — Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody 

This book totally consumed me for a few days. It is set in the 23rd century and apparently our main form of entertainment has not changed. Instead of television, we have an entire wall (WallVision).  And the number one program is GameWorld: a twisted pairing of Big Brother/The Real World/The Sims/pick your voyeuristic tv show/RPG.

GameWorld consists of an entire isolated and controlled island full of “Characters” that only exist to amuse the viewers of the 24/7 show.  The “Characters” are owned by gamers and can be programmed to carry out most actions for viewing pleasure.

The action of the story follows two “Characters”, Dean and Lily.  Their life is ideal, they are in love, they are happy.  One day, Dean’s “owner” decides to program some nasty instructions into Dean as a result of some difficulties he is having in his own life.  The chain reaction that ensues has tragic consequences for those on both sides of the WallVision.

The reader is treated to a glimpse of how such a large scale entertainment venture could occur through the eyes of the creator of GameWorld, James Madison.  As situations occur with Dean and Lily and they become the most popular couple around the world, Madison becomes personally involved with the game and the “Characters”, something he has never done before.

The viewpoint of the average “gamer/owner” is depicted through Amelia, who was gifted her “Character”, Lily, as a child.  She overly identifies with her “Character” and will go to extreme lengths to see her happy.

I appreciated the immense creativity and thought that went into dreaming up this amazing world and the technology that went along with it.  The writing is precise, not overly dramatic.  Enough information is given in each chapter to keep the reader wanting more.

The comment on human nature rings loud and clear through Amelia and Madison.

I really enjoyed this read.  It has a sci-fi, romance, cautionary, 1984 feel to it with a really creepy vibe because it is all for the entertainment of others.

Its a short read that will stay in your head and will pop up every time you see a “reality” show on television or a camera on a light post.  It poses the question, is this the real life, or is it just fantasy?

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