Mary Shelley would, I’m sure, approve.
Michael Bunker’s original update of the old and much abused story of men playing at God has something for everybody who has ever contemplated the interface between the human mind/soul and machines, and wondered where it all might end up. And by that, I don’t just mean a future where the (insert your own antagonist) develops androids that turn on their makers; writers and Hollywood have beaten us so often over the head with a blunt instrument on that one that we’re numb. Bunker goes way beyond that; he has provided us a future where the ethical dilemmas concerning robots, whose very being blur the line between flesh and steel, are delineated in complicated ways where right and wrong are muddied. There’s not so much story telling like this around in what passes for sci-fi these days. Instead we get obvious "I’m sorry" confessions, which scientists turn to when their creations turn nasty.
But there’s more here than ethical dilemmas and well plotted action to Brother, Frank. There’s a touching story of love and loyalty, and ultimately of redemption. There are real characters here, which tug at your heartstrings or goad you into fury. And all with a narrative that stays laser focussed. There is no showing off; the author is all business and keeps the story simple. I honestly don’t think a reader can ask for more.
On a final note, if someone in Hollywood is reading this, one of the few who doesn’t tire easily when confronted with interesting ideas, please transform Brother, Frank into a decent movie. It’s crying out for a studio with integrity and guts to do so. I’m not holding my breath, but a film based on this book would knock most sci-fi of the last ten years out of the park.