Arty is an obsolete model of personal assistant droid, specifically model PA3025. Employment has become increasingly difficult to come by as newer and faster models become available. So, he’s on the government unemployment which means he has a case worker, Knickers. And Knickers has a subtle plan to get depressed Arty back into the swing of things.
I stepped into this story not expecting too much. I figured it would be a light-hearted lunch listen. What I got instead is so much more. Most of the story is told through the droid’s eyes and it was very interesting to watch Arty go from an initial wish to switch off (or terminate) to a place where he felt useful and needed.
Knickers uses a parable to get some points across to Arty. Extra points to the author for mentioning the old computer game Galaga, by the way. In fact, the entire story, Electric Blues, is a parable for modern human life and anyone who feels obsolete. This is done in a very clever way. I was sucked into the story and the characters long before I saw what the author was doing.
Another crucial character is the aging Madeline. Arty takes up volunteer work, per Knickers direction, while he continues to search for a job. Madeline is his first stop and in her daft way she takes him on as a personal assistant. She doesn’t have much interest in modern tech and being able to interface with such tech through the very accessible and people-friendly Arty makes her life much easier. Through this relationship, Arty grows as a character.
Now toss in snippets of a court case that attempts to define sentient life and you have plenty to think about. These little snippets were well placed throughout the story providing little breaks between scenes and raising some pretty interesting questions about what constitutes legal, rights-holding life.
All in all, I was very impressed with this story. I hope that McCoy makes more of his work available in audiobook format!
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the narrator (via the GoodReads Audiobooks group) in exchange for an honest review.
Narration: At first I wasn’t sure why the author picked a female narrator for this book as nearly all of it is told through Arty’s voice. But then I realized that Arty is an it, not a he or she, so it didn’t particularly matter. Gabrielle Olexa did a fine job sounding like a stiff PA3025. She managed to keep a monotone voice for PA Arty throughout the tale. She had a variety of voices for the other characters and imbued them with emotion when needed. My favorite voice was old lady Madeline.