An Android Awakes by Mike French and illustrated by Karl Brown (book review).

In a world where all books are written by androids under the Android Publishing Program, an android tries to get published. Despite being specially programmed to produce the optimal novel, his works still keep getting rejected. Soon, he starts receiving letters advising him that he has a limited amount of submissions before his opportunity will be over and his life will be ended as a consequence. Can he successfully submit a manuscript that doesn’t get rejected?

When I first heard about this book, I was quite interested in an android dealing with the pressures of trying to submit a manuscript. Most of the book was made up of his attempts at stories and it was interesting to see his writing develop and change over the course of the book. It was quite intriguing that there were consistent themes that ran through his writing and the fact that bits from what we were told about his life outside of the stories crept in to his stories, as I think is true of all writers. It was a quirky and intriguing way to explore the writing and submission process.

However, much of the book was compiled of submissions, with little back story about the protagonist. In fact, his name is seldom mentioned, so I read most of the book not actually knowing what he is called. He’s called PD121928, but it’s noteworthy that I’ve just had to look that up.

The stories were generally not that interesting. They were quite bizarre, which would usually find interesting, however they were so bizarre that they made little narrative sense. I spent much of most of them trying to work out what was going on. Furthermore, they were thematically similar, in a way that makes sense for a writer’s body of work but. as they make up the majority of the book, for me they detracted from reader engagement.

While I appreciate that PD121928 is a robot, therefore his characterisation would be different to humans, I didn’t really feel like I got to know much about him. There were a few interesting quirks. For example, he has a pet cat. Part-way through the story, the cat dies, so he goes down to a freezer in his basement and unfreezes a new cat. However, on the whole, it just felt like a collection of short stories. I’m not against short stories, but they significantly took over the book in a way that I didn’t find engaging.

Overall, while it had an interesting concept, I generally didn’t enjoy this book. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but not in a good way. That said, it may be of interest to people who like extremely bizarre short fiction.

Rebecca Thorne

April 2018

(pub: Elsewhen Press, 2015. 208 page paperback. Price: £ 6.30 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-90816-863-4)

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One thought on “An Android Awakes by Mike French and illustrated by Karl Brown (book review).

  • How significant is it, I wonder, that Philip K Dick was born in December 1928… ?


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