Automatic Lover

Ariadne Tampion

Publisher Lulu.com
ISBN 978-1-4092-0554-8
RRP £11.95
Reviewed by Jude Umeh FBCS CITP
Score 9 out of 10

Automatic Lover Ariadne Tampion's book tells a funny and rather engaging story about the love affair between a woman and her companion robot, named HCR-238. It describes their journey from when they first met and worked together, to their eventual legal union, or marriage in everything but name, as well as the numerous challenges posed by their peculiar relationship at many points in between.

It also tells the story of how the bright robotics engineer, responsible for creating the HCR robot model, went on to design and prototype a dedicated line of 'love-machine' robots, based on the HCR model, whilst also juggling her other roles of wife, mother and project manager.

At this point, one might be tempted to judge this book as utter rubbish, to be discarded after only a couple of pages; or one in which, if you can withhold judgment until the end, you might be pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed reading. I strongly lean towards the latter verdict, for several reasons:

First of all, this book, or indeed books (as it is actually two separate episodes of the same story), does not take itself too seriously. It is part science-fiction and part adult romance, liberally laced with love, humour and lust, including some fairly graphic sexual scenes, which is all set in a near-future, complete with space ships and interplanetary travel.

Secondly, Ariadne Tampion does not shy away from tackling more serious topics like crime, drugs and some difficult ethical issues to do with: love, sentience, personhood and applicable rights, as well as the future of humanity, and the role of the male.

Finally, she evidently draws from her own rich background as an engineer and champion of Artificial Intelligence (her AI programming helped win the 2006 Loebner prize); and from her other roles as mother, humanist and oxytocin, and breast-feeding evangelist.

This book is appealing on many different levels, and it certainly deserves the high score, along with calls for more books (and perhaps even a film based on this book) by the author.

Further information: Lulu

April 2009