In this novella, we learn more about SUPers, which are the predecessors to Perfect Partners, or PePr’s. They are lifelike human simulacra but these robots stand out when compared to a human and they aren’t nearly as perfect as a PePr. These SUPers, originally developed for battlefield medicine, are eventually retooled and used for other forms of government work. Two particular SUPers, Deirdre, and Darren are now working for the Probation and Parole office. When Darren has an urgent need to see Deirdre as soon as possible, she cannot slip away easily. She lives with one of her parolees, a former thief named Greg, as a part of her job keeping him on the straight and narrow path. When I found out the secret that Darren and Deirdre keep, I was startled by this revelation as well as the disturbing extent to Darren’s circumstances. From then onwards, the situation continues to get worse until something horrible happens and their lives are all turned upside down, threatening them all! But will they succeed while trying to find an effective solution to the problem and can they do so without getting caught?
The problem facing Darren is certainly an unexpected one as it is an unusual problem as well as a sad one. And it leads to a situation I did not anticipate but certainly was enraptured by. But what Deirdre, Darren, and even Greg have to do in order to protect this secret and the potential consequences arising from it is crafty and delightful, transforming into a thriller as Darren’s fate is put into question. In creating a nearly unsolvable problem, the way the author resolves it was quite creative and imaginative, especially given the evolution of these intricate difficulties they all now face. This all culminated into a touching and poignant ending that I could never have predicted.
I really enjoyed the use of SUPers in this story in a world where PePr’s are still being developed and perfected, as well as the way they are integrated into many different government roles. This situation also provides some commentary on how society feels threatened by robots supplanting them in many job positions. But more importantly, this unusual ability by some of those robots to develop and feel emotions provides plenty of opportunity and insight into human emotions and the impact of this on themselves and others. Especially as they wonder whether they are aberrations or whether they are more robots like them out there, feeling a keen sense of loneliness as they experience these feelings.
Deirdre and Darren are tested as they face a tough dilemma and become well-developed characters over the course of the story. But as they do so, they also try to further define who they are, the role they play in society and how they think they are supposed to try to fit in. Also, a word about Greg, whose involvement and criminal background become more important as the story moves forward. This character also grew on me, not only providing some wonderful comic relief amidst the rising stakes of the story but at how sneaky he is really is and how good he is at hiding secrets.
This is a powerful, exciting, funny and at times, heart-wrenching novella about the origins of robots in this universe, the difficult burdens they face having complex emotions and how tough it is having to hide them from humans. It also serves as a strong prequel to later stories in this universe, demonstrating how many diverse stories can be told in this ever expanding universe of the authors creation.
If you enjoyed this novella, the author also wrote a short story called PePr, Inc. (Perfect Partners, Incorporated Book 1), the first one in her “PePr, Inc.” series of stories. By the way, it’s also free so try it out and see what you think. You don’t have to have read that story to understand this one, as they can be read independently of one another. But you will have a richer experience if you read them both. Having read all of the PePr stories to date, I can confirm that wholeheartedly. =)
Please note that I was given an advance readers copy of this eBook. A favorable review was never expected or asked for, only an honest one.
Leighgendary Rating: 10/10 Stars
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