Monday, April 8, 2013
Review:G's Future (A Novella)by Don Viecelli
I love this story, but at times it was a trying experience.
This book reminds me a lot of that movie Making Mr. Right. It stared John Malkovich and Ann Magnuson and was about an android made for the purpose of exploring space. It was also one of those movies that had a somewhat strong female character - though she still had some of those foibles that might brand her as a bit less than the quintessential future of woman.
This novel has those same elements. The android designed to go into space that is. Sorry no strong female roles. I call this a novel because it lists at 160 pages I don't have the word count but I think 160 is good for a novel.
This story starts out with and revolves around the character Timothy. Almost a leave it to beaver household. Tim is 12 so this is very much at the beginning a juvenile science fiction story. It could easily be a YA but what drags it down is the style the author took in writing. I've been blasted before about this but I will say it again. Sometimes when we concentrate really hard on making our science good enough to be the hard stuff; we forget to put effort into the difficulty of developing good narrative. The writing reads like it is intended for the 8 to 15 year bracket and maybe even a bit earlier. It took a long time and a lot of patience to get to the good stuff. Part of the trouble for me was that there were lots of scenes with many people but scant dialogue for quite a way through. This tends to lead to a lot of expository paragraphs. It did not destroy the story it just pushed it back a few grade levels for me. But that might be just me.
It's about the time we meet the android that the characters start to take on some life. Maybe this is planned- we could always hope that.
The story starts with the simple life of Timothy and his sister Kate his mother Susan his father Charles his best friend Johnny and Johnny's sister Amy (Timothy's crush). All getting ready for summer vacation, which this time includes an invitation from Timothy's grandfather Julian to spend two weeks helping with a science project. Timothy is not sure since he'd rather spend time with Amy er I mean Johnny.
Of course, when they go to visit Julian they meet G the android- the science project. Timothy is to be there for two weeks providing a sort of companionship to the Android in order to prepare it for the up coming Turing Test, which could net them one million dollars and public acclaim.
Now we have plenty of moral issues that arise with the danger of being exposed to people who might find the android threatening and we have a sort of I Robot thing starting here. Timothy proceeds to become really good friends with G and they get along famously and G just seems like a regular guy. Who doesn't have to eat or sleep and who has more knowledge than the average genius.
What doesn't seem to get covered is whether self awareness comes close to equating to sentience and perhaps that could be covered in another story.
There's lots of excitement and chances for G to prove himself and there is even another secret project going on, which seems predictable but in a way that doesn't really spoil the story. There is still the eventual training at NASA and lots of other good stuff ahead.
I really did enjoy the moral examination though I felt that because this seems more of a story about an idea and ideals and some of the moral ramifications that there was a bit less involvement of character development than what I like. But that's because I'm a fan of character driven stories.
This is really a good book for all ages. It maintains purity as a youthful juvenile fiction with enough elements for the YA and the adult crowd. It may be that not everyone will have the trouble I had getting through the first part, but if they do they only have to tough it out for a bit before it gets interesting.
What's really neat is there are so many interesting threads touched upon in this story that there's room for some really exciting ideas and fiction to come.