Imprint By Nicholas Adams (5 stars)
If you liked Ex Machina, you will like this.
Overview: (spoiler alert)
Imprint follows Malcolm as he tries to find a solution for a debilitating and life-threatening side-effect of the synthetic organs he designed. His wife is the last remaining test subject in a world that destroyed itself thinking “The Scald” was a plague. The Scald is the term for the burns which appear sometime after a synthetic organ transplant has occurred. Good intentions aren’t always enough.
Limited to a bed of gel to support her fragile, disintegrating body, Malcom’s wife, Cynthiana, can no longer participate in daily activities. After being given a week to find a cure for his fatal mistake, at the Warden’s threat of execution, Malcolm attempts to build Cynthiana a new body through which she can wirelessly transmit conscious action and, in a manner, live again.
But the created anthropomorphic being begins to act of its own accord while Cynthiana isn’t conscious. Malcolm studies his wife’s neural activity, attempting to find a connection between the waking sessions and odd behaviors of “Synthia.” It isn’t until he and Synthia are alone that he uncovers the imprinting of personality, interests, behaviors, etc of his wife within the constructed AI. What Synthia does after is unexpected and unpredictable.
This is an easy, short read (novella). I had no trouble following the storyline. I enjoyed the addition of the Canadian French in Malcolm’s wife’s dialogue. Learning a little something while reading for pleasure is a great two-for-one deal. Speaking of pleasure, there are a few steamy scenes, though nothing described in raw detail—a perfect mix.
Definitely cyberpunk/biopunk dystopian fiction. The world in which the story takes place is limited to Malcolm’s residence, specifically his lab, focusing on details of his biomechanical creations. Synthia’s new body is described in wonderful detail, including how she perceives the environment, and him.
Malcolm loves his wife dearly. She is a delight: still actively engaged despite her failing body, reading romances, always attentive to what’s going on when she’s awake. I would fully expect, in any other situation, for her to moan and cry and hate everything because of her state. She strikes me as the strongest of the characters.
The ending, the imprint, is a surprise that couldn’t make more sense. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but I won’t give it away. It evoked some strong feels for Malcolm. Anyone that’s had a spouse with a mysterious illness can probably relate. Their bond is obvious, his dedication to her unmovable. I have missed reading about characters with morals, respect, and true love. …And a future hanging wide-open before me.
Only two things mildly bothered me: glazing over the week Malcolm originally had to find a solution or face execution with the mention of three weeks later he’s working on the synth body, and the fact Cythiana’s neural expertise didn’t come into play. I expected the Synthia to start working on a project of her own because of that detail in Cythiana’s opening credits. Maybe she’ll find a solution to download her actual consciousness into the body?! Yes? Please? And then the twist… Ha! Proves just how much I should not let my mind do this while reading. And honestly, the ending was a good one, true to life. I wouldn’t want it any other way.