Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review – Today I am Carey

 

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Book Review

‘Today I Am Carey’ rare thought-provoking novel

By MARK LARDAS

Mar 19, 2019

“Today I am Carey,” by Martin L. Shoemaker, Baen, 2019, 336 pages, $16

What defines life? What’s the difference between something truly alive and something which is a clever simulation of life?

“Today I am Carey,” is a science fiction novel by Martin L. Shoemaker. It examines those questions.

Medical Care Android BRKCX-01932-217JH-98662, created by MCA laboratories, is a caretaker robot. Leased by the family of Mildred Owens, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, its job is to comfort Mildred, look after her, provide her with companionship, and help her with her needs. It has the capability to physically emulate different members of her family: her late husband Henry, her son Paul and his wife Susan, her granddaughter Anna, and the various human nurses who care for Mildred.

BRKCX-01932-217JH-98662 has become self-aware, and has begun wondering what that means. It’s a sophisticated android with the latest neural networks and sensory feedback systems, and has developed consciousness.

Its developers realize something special has happened. The designer, Dr. Zinta Jansons begins exploring the implications, as the android continues caring for Mildred. When she finally dies, it has become part of the family. The Owens family purchases the android, purportedly to look after their daughter Millie, but in reality because they cannot part with it. The android is quickly named Carey, and ceases to emulate people.

The book follows Carey and the Owens family through the years in a series of short chapters, all presented through the point of view of Carey. Both family members and Carey mature. His primary charge becomes an adult, eventually with children of her own. Carey discovers he must redefine his existence and purpose over time. He experiments by taking a job. He travels and learns more about the world. Eventually, he discovers that being alive means making hard choices, including whether to live or die.

“Today I am Carey” is a rare novel. While entertaining, it goes beyond simple entertainment. Shoemaker examines the question of what it means to be alive. Despite being written about a robot, the book is about people and the meaning of individuality. Lyrically written using simple language, this story will leave readers pondering its implications.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It has been on my list for a while. I got it as part of my March Baen Bundle. Looks like I’ll be reading it this week on my trip.

    The premise reminds me of The Bicentennial Man, however, it seems that while the family never questioned Andrew’s sentience society did. I wonder how Today I am Carey will explore the same themes. That it does so is undeniable given this summary.

    Seawriter: The book follows Carey and the Owens family through the years in a series of short chapters, all presented through the point of view of Carey. Both family members and Carey mature. His primary charge becomes an adult, eventually with children of her own. Carey discovers he must redefine his existence and purpose over time. He experiments by taking a job. He travels and learns more about the world. Eventually, he discovers that being alive means making hard choices, including whether to live or die.

    • #1
    • March 24, 2019, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Weeping Member

    Instugator (View Comment):
    The premise reminds me of The Bicentennial Man….

    That’s the movie I was trying to think of when I read the synopsis! I knew it reminded me of a movie I’ve seen. 

    Anyway, thanks for the review and recommendation, Seawriter. Science fiction isn’t a genre I usually enjoy, but this one sounds like it’s worth checking out.

    • #2
    • March 26, 2019, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  3. Boss Mongo Member

    Thanks, Seawriter. Book is now in the queue. I’ll send you my feedback when I read it. Probably around 2032.

    • #3
    • March 26, 2019, at 5:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Seawriter Member
    Seawriter

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Thanks, Seawriter. Book is now in the queue. I’ll send you my feedback when I read it. Probably around 2032.

    You do things. I just read and write.

    • #4
    • March 26, 2019, at 5:37 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Boss Mongo Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    I just read and write.

    I want that. I’ll get there. Or not. Inshah’allah.

    • #5
    • March 26, 2019, at 5:38 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I read it during my flight to DC on Monday. Very moving. Well written.

    I liked it, but I would have preferred a more thoughtful solution. The end seemed rushed.

    • #6
    • March 27, 2019, at 11:45 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    I just read and write.

    I want that. I’ll get there. Or not. Inshah’allah.

    Hate that phrase. I deal with it in my post on American Exceptionalism.

    • #7
    • March 27, 2019, at 4:04 PM PDT
    • Like

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