“Their debut novel Planet Paradroid reached the number one position on the Dutch SF most wanted list.”
In a near-future Amsterdam, a cast of motley characters work to make sense of lives that feel increasingly unmoored. At their center is the self-aware computer VDR, an AI therapist intrigued by the concept of friendship, the struggle to avoid death and, above all, what it means to be human.
Through his interactions with his human “friends”—fellow therapist Debbie van Hall and her son Tex, newcomer Raven Hunter, and a host of others—VDR observes the myriad ways in which human beings fight to rewrite their own painful histories and so create a new future.
And as he watches and learns, he starts to long for more: to truly experience the human condition himself.
A Note From the Publisher
‘The Pancras team aspires to create a future like everyone else’s, but succeeds best when they write one that is theirs alone, rooted firmly in the social and cultural issues of their homeland.’ —Jonathan Clements (British critic, author & scriptwriter).
'This absurdist reflection on our twisted society and its uncertain future is a psychedelic rush that upends the world even as it attains a Zenlike serenity… an ingenious and thoroughly original book.'— Gerry Hameetman (reviewer Hebban.nl).
'Reading this book is like riding a roller coaster: from ‘eat, sleep, rave, repeat’ to meditative peace. Technologies we call ‘artificial’ today, such as thinking computers and tools that prolong life, are seamlessly combined with their traditional sources of inspiration. All this is conveyed in a style that is sometimes poetic, sometimes prosaic, and always striking.' — Frits Boer (professor emeritus of child and adolescent psychiatry).
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
Received as a review copy from NetGalley, this is an honest review. A harrowing journey surrounding the fragile, labyrinthine beauty of the human mind and the quirkiness that makes up the power of friendship and determination that makes humanity possible. Highly recommended.
This story was like visiting a Bukowski landscape. There will be drama. All the rules are different than in more ordinary lives. The characters come off the page, they feel so real. Feeling immersed in other people's lives is a nice way for me to reflect on my own life.
Loved how the book went through and explored the fragile grandeur of the human mind, while also showcasing heartfelt friendships.
.Using my standards shown at the bottom of this review, this book must be given a one star. It is rare that I have a Did Not Finish outcome. I’ll pretty much give any book a read to the end, as long as it has some way to keep me engaged, whether thru story, writing style, character development, or etc. I may only end up giving a book I struggle to finish 2-3 stars, but at least I’ll have finished it. Sadly, I sImply could not get past 16% into this book before I couldn’t summon any more effort to continue. Spoilers *kinda* coming. The first chapter was pretty scattered. Gonzo. But, had a bit to say. Ok, keep reading. At first, I thought the second chapter might be a new short story it was so disconnected both in story & internal character dialog. But, connections were slowly made, Then I kept waiting to see how all this divergent stuff was related. Was it all happening in a computer simulation or something? There is this unclear relationship between an immersive tech game available globally, an aware AI, and a company apparently providing psychotherapy to humans via lots of other human therapists. Nothing was pulling together. Then, new-hires in the shrink group all are told to go party hearty before their first day on the job, and the next 10% of the book is plays out a deeply, voluminously drug-fueled escapade that may have reflected what people think & experience when one mixes as much, and as many different drugs at a time as are described here. But, the drug-fueled episode was witheringly boring. A disconnected, hallucinogenic, scatterbrained set of things a totally drugged-up careless partygoer would have, and it was ultimately utterly without any interesting character value or development, no story advancement, and quickly became grating on me. And even after the night was over, the character’s internal dialog continued to be gonzo / uncoordinated that I concluded this was going to be what the whole book had been like, and was probably going to be like, and I simply didn’t care anymore. I couldn’t endure any more time trying to get interested in characters that were so irresponsible, and unlike anybody I want to spend the next few hours with. And it pains me a little. I love edgy books. Ones that break with usual styles. I’m about to write a review about an incredible DRC where most of the book is the experience of a non-player character in a digital immersive game that became sentient through an iterative AI. Few thoughts or experiences were developed completely, and there was lots of useless bits presented and made immediately irrelevant. Yet the idea was novel, the story was riveting, the dialog method groundbreaking, and was a truly compelling book. Maybe Planet Paradroid ends up pulling together an interesting book further than I read. But me, a patient “give ‘em a chance” reader felt it simply didn’t pull together enough, soon enough, for me to give it any more of my time. Here's my standards / rating rules: Five stars is when you read a book to the end, put it down, take a deep breath, pick it up and start reading it all over again - or you would if you weren't so anxious to read the next book in a multi-book series. Or, it's simply one of the best books you’ve ever read, period. Four stars is when you tell yourself : ”This is good, this is well-written, this is full of interesting ideas, characters and plot points”, but you know you will never read it again. Three stars is when you read it to the end, put it down and proceed to forget all about it in the next instant. Two stars when it's so bad that it makes you laugh, or sigh, and want to write a review, but you can't remember the name of the book or dislike it so much that you don't write it. One star when you can't read past chapter 3, even as penance for your sins, and write tye review to help others avoid wasting their time.