Erryn reviews ‘Evolved’ by N.R. Walker. The book was self-published on April 23rd, 2018 and is 242 pages. The audiobook was released September 4, 2018 by Tantor Media. It is 8 hrs and 17 mins and is narrated by Joel Leslie.
Why Erryn read: Not only I have read the novel, but I adore Joel Leslie and N.R. Walker.
Lloyd Salter has OCD issues with noise, mess, and he’s uncomfortable with human interaction. When his ex claimed the only thing perfect enough to live up to his standards was an android, Lloyd dismissed it. But two years later, after much self-assessment, he thinks he may have been right.
SATinc is the largest manufacturer of androids in Australia, including the Fully Compatible Units known as an A-Class 10. Their latest design is the Synthetic Human Android UNit, otherwise known as SHAUN.
Shaun is compatible to Lloyd’s every need; the perfect fit on an intellectual and physical basis. But Lloyd soon realises Shaun’s not like other A-Class androids. He learns. He adapts. Sure that SATinc is aware Shaun functions outside of his programmed parameters, Lloyd must find a way to keep Shaun safe.
No one can know how special Shaun is. No one can know he’s evolved.
***Check out the giveaway at the bottom of this review for a chance to win one of several prizes***
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
As we move farther and farther into the twenty-first century, our reliance on technology increases daily. How many of us could survive without our cellphones, computers, WiFi or Internet? There are still billions of people who don’t have the same level of connectivity, but that number is shrinking. But taking it down from a macro level to a micro level, N.R. Walker is envisioning life in 2068 where every home is Australia is hooked up. Everyone is entirely reliant on the Internet for all aspects of their lives. So is this all for convenience or are there elements of Big Brother?
Lloyd Salter has never worried about things like that. He’s a man who likes what he likes and has little tolerance for other people. His last boyfriend told him he’d be better of dating an android. Since the technology has improved significantly, this is now a possibility. Androids are not sentient beings, but they are being programmed to be more and more like humans. In this vision of the future, they’re not easily spotted from afar. Only up close can you notice the perfection that is just too good to be human. These machines have been built to serve their human masters and although they have certain rights, they aren’t sentient and still do not possess the ability to completely assimilate. Humans still have the appearance of control.
Or at least they did.
Shaun is Lloyd’s android. Out of sheer loneliness, Lloyd decided to spend a significant amount of his money to purchase the perfect boyfriend. Shaun is able to assimilate Lloyd’s likes and dislikes into his programming and can be the ideal companion. No dropping clothes, no messy eating, no noisy breathing. Shaun is everything Lloyd believed he wanted.
All is not well, though. Or, more accurately, it’s too perfect. Shaun not only anticipates Lloyd’s needs and wants, he start making hints on his own needs. Androids aren’t supposed to have autonomy, yet Shaun demonstrates repeatedly he is more than just a machine. As Lloyd realizes Shaun is more than he was intended to be, he worries they’ll be discovered and he’ll lose Shaun forever.
I read this book some time ago and was thrilled when it came out on audio, narrated by Joel Leslie. Although it is not my favourite N.R. Walker book, it is enjoyable for both story and emotion. How many of us haven’t dreaded being alone for the rest of our lives? Haven’t wanted a companion who totally understands us? Who has read and is able to interpret Moby Dick? (Okay, I might be in the minority on that one…)
Being alone, on occasion I crave companionship, so having a Shaun would appeal. Would I want a FULLY compatible android…? As artificial intelligence (AI) increases, machines will be able to take on more and more responsibilities in doing both mundane and sophisticated tasks. The ethical questions already abound. In N.R.’s 2068, the cars all have android drivers. No speeding, no recklessness. Currently, most people aren’t willing to give up their autonomy, believing their judgement will always be better than a computer’s. At current levels that might be true, but there will come a time when it’ll be considered reckless for a fallible human being to drive. I truly dislike driving, but even I’m nervous about handing over the controls to a machine. The younger generation? Not so much because some of them haven’t ever not owned a SMART phone. Hand them a flip phone and they’re clueless. They’ve never not had access to a computer, texts, or Internet. I try to keep up, but it’s a challenge.
Maybe in 2068 it’s not such a challenge. Or maybe being lonely is enough to give up some autonomy to have companionship. Regardless, for a story about AI there is a lot of emotional depth and I loved that. Joel Leslie is, as always, the perfect narrator. Not only does he do Australian brilliantly, he has just the right nuance to bring Shaun to life – progressing his narration and growing it with Shaun. N.R.’s humor shines through in the book and Joel nails each joke as well as one-liner. Just another great performance.
Worth a listen and I want to sign off with a quote from the books that I think sums up things quite well in this new millennium:
[Shaun] closed his eyes and whispered, “I am not human.”
“You’re better than human.” His eyes shot open, and I smiled as I held his face. “Humans – not all humans, but most – stopped caring a long time ago. People became detached. Interacting online became normal because interacting with humans and all that nonsense, effort, and trivial drama that came with it became too difficult. It was easier to speak to our friends online when we wanted, then close down the internet when we needed silence. Androids became commonplace and it was easy; companionship without unnecessary drama.”
Maybe we could all stand to be a little more like Shaun.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
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She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who she gives them life with words.
She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.
She’s been writing ever since…