“I have seen the world with love, and I have seen the world without it. And I’ve made my choice in which world I want to live.” -Judd Trichter
We are excited here at Pop Mythology to have begun receiving Audible.com audiobooks for review. Our first foray into this media is Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the recently released debut novel by Judd Trichter.
The book is best described as anti-utopian science fiction, and explores a future with highly intelligent, humanistic androids. The androids are classed in this society effectively as indentured servants, with a few “free roamers,” and provide most of the manual labor. They earn a wage that barely (and sometimes not quite) meets the costs of their existence, which primarily consist of replacements parts and energy that is produced in a manner that has rendered the planet filthy and unhealthy for humans. The division of power between android “spinners” and human “heartbeats” is an uneasy one and, coupled with differing environmental needs, threaten to produce a war that may annihilate one or both species.
The novel’s protagonist, Eliot Lazar, sells androids for a living, but has fallen in love with a free robot named Iris Matsuo. Love between spinners and heartbeats is illegal, but Eliot has made plans to squire Iris away to an island in the Pacific where social norms are relaxed. Before he can execute the rescue, Iris is captured by a sociopathic predator, dismembered, and her parts sold on the black market. Being an android, however, Iris could be resurrected, if only Eliot can recover the pieces. But just how far into Hades should this modern day Orpheus descend to rescue his beloved Eurydice?
With regard to audio books, I am a fan, but have primarily listened to non-fiction in this form as I find with this genre I am less inclined to want to linger over a particular phrasing. Nonetheless, I found Love in the Age to be superb in the audio format, owing in no small part to an outstanding performance by Luke Daniels. His chosen noir detective novel voice for narration keeps an intriguing tension between the high-blown drama of the events and the terse, bleak style of the writing. Some of the chapters begin with a recap summary of the historical events that brought the world to its current, imagined state. Daniels reads these slowly at first, gradually building speed to create an audio “page-turning” effect.
Trichter himself is a compelling and thought-provoking writer. The story’s premise, though not prototypical, contains so many diversions and insoluble moral dilemmas as to never descend into cliché. There is a point, when Eliot is having a mental conversation with his gun about murdering a villain, that Trichter’s prose even approaches a Stephen King style of genius. We look forward to hearing more from Trichter in the future.
The one compelling character I would have appreciated to see developed further was that of “Tim” the security robot, who was styled much in a Schwartzenegger Terminator-like mold. Perhaps in a sequel we will get to hear about what he has to say about Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: