Creation Debt, by Lore Graham
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: April 13, 2016
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Radical views sometimes require committing a crime or two. In his biggest move yet to fight for android rights, Derek liberates a group of androids working off their creation debt at a hospital. One of those androids is 141, who is surprisingly reluctant to leave the facility, leaving Derek baffled.
A delay in their escape forces them to take an alternate route to Derek’s base, trapping them on a decrepit spaceship for a week, where they have only each other for company and a divide created by assumptions and wariness—but also an undeniable curiosity.
Huh. This short story has a lot of potential for more – meaning, I think it would have been a lot better had it been longer, maybe novel-length. There are some great ideas here, but to be able to truly enjoy it, the world and characters would have needed to be more flashed out.
In this world – that I unfortunately don’t have that good a picture and sense of – Isaac Ltd. is the creator of fully cognisant androids with free will, but they are ‘born’ into this world with a 200 year working debt to pay off before they can choose their own name and more or less live like they please.
Derek worked for the company some years ago, but once he recognised this was wrong he began working to free the androids with unrelenting force. No consequences, no casualties will hold him back – which I found at first a bit odd, as he seems to be working for a good cause and therefore killing other people shouldn’t come so easily. After he reveals his true motivation, his anger does make more sense, though. Still.
When his latest rescue mission goes awry, he’s stranded for a whole week on a spaceship with one of the androids. Xyr name is 141 and xe is an androgynous android who doesn’t identify with the human’s concept of gender. Xe is independent-minded, subtly snarky, and kind. I liked xem a lot and found xem very interesting.
On the ship, Derek and 141 become closer, and despite the short story format, I could get behind it.
I really like the idea of the story and the androids are really cool. I’d love to see more of them. But seriously, they, as well as the whole world, need more depth and just time to develop. Same goes for the characters. More of Derek’s background with his family and his research, more time with him in general, would go a long way to actually be able to bond with him. Surprisingly, although this book is written in first person narration present tense, this didn’t quite happen for me.
Lore Graham is a writer who lives in Boston, MA. Ze writes queer speculative fiction, and has a weakness for androids, nonbinary characters, and magic. When Lore isn’t writing, ze is usually cooking or throwing parties.
Lore is transgender and nonbinary. Lore uses ze/zir/zir or they/them/their pronouns.
Learn more about Lore and zir work here.
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.