Title: Built for Pleasure
Author: Thursday Euclid
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 21, 2016
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Retired military officer Malcolm Torvik runs a rehabilitation facility for malfunctioning pleasure cyborgs. When WLF-6759—Wolf—arrives at Reboot Camp, the former battle cyborg presents problems Malcolm’s never faced before. Most pleasure cyborgs are sensation junkies, constantly high on the chemicals sex releases into their bloodstream, but Wolf’s faulty refit means it’s spent a decade suffering through unwanted encounters—and sometimes fighting back despite the consequences.
At first Wolf’s rebellion frustrates Malcolm even as Wolf’s undeniable physical perfection draws him. Then Wolf’s unexpected vulnerability and need open a whole new dynamic between them, and Malcolm finds himself feeling far too much for something that isn’t even human. Or is it? Could Homo sapiens technica be just as human as Malcolm is? And if it is, what’s Malcolm supposed to do about it? Malcolm’s been alone for so long…. Is it possible he’s found love with a cyborg? How far will he go to ensure Wolf’s freedom? Malcolm knows what he must do—for both of them—but it might cost him much more than his comfortable life.
I tend to be hit or miss with Euclid’s books and this selection fell right in the middle of that spectrum.
Premise of the book is Homo sapiens sapiens used cyborgs Homo sapiens technica to initially colonize the galaxy and terraform planets in anticipation of leaving a ravaged and devastated Earth. Cyborgs paved the way, then were built to take on the hazardous tasks, and ultimately, to serve humans as objects of pleasure.
Malcom “Mal” Torvik, black sheep of the Torvik family, ‘rehabilitates’ cyborgs. When the pleasure ‘borg WLF-6759 arrives in his shop after going on a rampage and killing 29 men, Mal discovers WLF is quite unlike any other cyborg to come through his shop. He is immediately drawn to the complex machine. WLF-6759 “Wolf” discovers hope in Mal, a human who might show him more than abuse, a human who might understand he’s more than the sum of his body parts. Mal and Wolf’s connection becomes enough to start a rebellion.
The exploration of cyborg or AI as having intelligence and feeling is not a new one. What made this interesting was the purposeful intention of keeping ‘borgs on a cocktail of drugs to suppress their human wetware. I had to chuckle – it felt a bit like Volkswagon covering up a cars true emissions. Wolf being able to overcome his drugs was explained via his faulty conversion from a military model to a pleasure model.
What I would like to have seen and I didn’t, was more interaction between Wolf and other cyborgs. Wolf doesn’t report to Mal or Althea (Mal’s mother) that he has met others like him either via the military training or the pleasure training. There are no covert meetings in hallways, no quiet talk at recharging stations, no muttered discontent at treatment.
The reader sees briefly through Mal’s eyes the objectivity of the pleasure ‘borgs and knows about the brief life of the military model, but we don’t see anything beyond that: no experimenting with lowering drug dosages, no indication that the cyborgs are ready for uplifting. This was especially so in Althea’s hidden base – where were the experimental ‘borgs? The initial test cases? Something beyond one remarkable subject out of hundreds of thousands of cyborgs to truly justify a full-blown rebellion?
On a technical note, and my scientific background is sneaking through here, I was surprised and annoyed that the binomial nomenclature was not italicized: Humans = Homo sapiens sapiens and cyborgs = Homo sapiens technica, or more accurately, if not being referenced during a discussion: Homo s. sapiens. My quirk.
Ultimately, an engaging story that boils down to what it means to be human and lonely and that we all want someone to give us a hug.