Jo Anne B's Reviews > Human Sister

Human Sister by Jim Bainbridge
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Apr 08, 2012

it was amazing

This is such a relevant book. The whole concept of creating robots using human cells and DNA is quite scary because of its unknown impact on our own species' evolution. But I believe it is only a matter of time before this happens. And once it does, there will be no turning back. That is why books like these are important. They remind us of the consequences of our egos.

The science in this book was very current and well done. Jim Bainbridge seemed very knowledgeable on genes and their expression. Everything seemed plausible and believable. The main character Sara's Grandpa worked on robotics and emergent intelligences in his company Magnasea. A lot of its use was for the military and security purposes but some of it was to help with of all things, the house cleaning. The technology was all very expensive so not everyone had all these amenities. Grandpa's house had antoids that came out at night to seek out and carry off dust and crumbs or mutated foreign bodies acting as the immune system for the house. There were also larger antoids that checked to make sure the operating codes in the smaller antoids were correct. His house also had Gatekeepers, or alien microbots, that checked each person for security breeches. Needless to say, in the future, technology that was meant to keep us safe was really paranoia meant to keep others out.

I felt bad for Sara. She was an unplanned pregnancy that her parents wanted to abort but her Grandpa convinced them to let him and her Grandma raise her, basically as a guinea pig to his experiments. Her Grandpa used her as an experiment her whole life and sacrificed her free will in order to create a new type of android, a bioroid, or a human robot with emotions. Sara was to have three of these "brothers". The first had no emotions, she never really knew the second, and the third one she had to raise like her child. There were chapters written by her First Brother that didn't make any sense which was weird. Sara  had scenescreens to mimic the outdoors rather than let her be able to go outdoors where she wanted. She wasn't allowed to go on computers or watch or listen to popular media. She was home-schooled and had to focus on her studies. She meditated, didn't celebrate birthdays or holidays, and wore hand me down clothes. All this because of her Grandpa's principles, not because he couldn't afford to give her things. Her Grandpa feared wealth would corrupt her. He wanted Sara to learn that "you can have a wonderful life that is rich and fulfilling and overflowing with love." He didn't want her to "become an imitative assemblage of other imitative assemblages, contaminated with every desire and so-called need festering in the world beyond our security walls." Grandpa seemed like an obsessive compulsive hippy. At one point Sara asked is he was autistic and her Grandma said "to be a male is to be slightly autistic." He ate the same food at the same time and had the same routine year after year. He was so rigid. Poor Sara was subjected to that. Ironic that his work reflected the total opposite of his beliefs.  Nonetheless, Sara loved him and was beyond loyal to him. 

The creation of Michael, Sara's bioroid, was very strange. They used Sara's own cells to create him and they would be able to enter each other's thoughts and control each other's bodies. Why anyone would want to create something like this is beyond me. What would be the purpose of this? During the process, Sara caught a glimpse of her "brother" and described him as a " headless, fully grown man whose chest had been carved open right down the middle. Suspended in a large tube was liquid with a brain with blood vessels and white cords leading down from it to lungs, a stomach, liver." If this if the future of reproduction, that is quite repulsive. And Sara was going to be linked to this person forever both in thoughts and actions. What was her Grandpa thinking?

Of course, there was much political and social controversy surrounding all of these androids and bioroids and not just in the U.S. It was a global problem. America was about to pass laws to destroy all androids, but they didn't like the sound of that. Neither did a lot of humans. So some took off to the moon and for Mars. Many innocent people were killed and we got to see the toll it took on the bioroids too. Again, a very relevant book showing the consequence of using technology to manipulate our genetics to create a better human. 

There was a romance in this book as well between Sara and Elio. Sara's family,was close with Elio's and they were almost like brother and sister but they developed a tentative relationship that proved challenging. There were some interesting and disturbing twists in it. This wasn't surprising in this kind of book.

I really enjoyed this book. It was very intelligent and thought provoking. Jim Bainbridge created a future that is very realistic and bleak. All the more reason for us to read his novel and take some notes. Highly recommended for anyone who cares about our species's future.
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April 8, 2012 – Shelved
April 8, 2012 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason A book right up your alley...mine too :). Great review, you really touched on the relevance of the subject matter ad it is today.

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