Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: April 23, 2018
Genre(s): M/M Science Fiction, Romance
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
In 2068, androids are an integrated part of human life. Big Brother no longer just watches from the shadows. It’s in every household.
Lloyd Salter has OCD issues with noise and mess, and he’s uncomfortable with human interaction. When his ex claimed the only thing perfect enough to live up to his standards was an android, Lloyd dismissed it. But two years later, after much self-assessment, he thinks he may have been right.
SATinc is the largest manufacturer of androids in Australia, including the Fully Compatible Units known as an A-Class 10. Their latest design is the Synthetic Human Android UNit, otherwise known as SHAUN.
Shaun is compatible to Lloyd’s every need; the perfect fit on an intellectual and physical basis. But Lloyd soon realises Shaun’s not like other A-Class androids. He learns. He adapts. Sure that SATinc is aware Shaun functions outside of his programmed parameters, Lloyd must find a way to keep Shaun safe.
No one can know how special Shaun is. No one can know he’s evolved.
Two years ago Lloyd Salter, a professor at Melbourne University, had a bad breakup and took a throwaway insult his boyfriend suggested during a fight, that Lloyd might be more compatible with an android due to his OCD issues and his need for quiet and order, to heart. Told from the first person, single POV of Lloyd Evolved focuses on the relationship between Lloyd and the android, Shaun, he buys and then falls in love with.
It’s 2068 and androids have been integrated into most parts of life as cleaners, drivers, and, the newest A-Class synthetic android, which is a “Fully Compatible Unit”, meaning the android is programmed to meet every need. “Even sexual. Especially sexual.”
Androids have rights under international law that prohibit child androids, deal with ethics, including common laws that ensure no malice or deliberate harm comes to any android, and with the introduction of All Purpose Units, newer laws pertaining to consent.
“All sexual relations must be consensual, which companies such as SATinc have ensured by programming sexual desire into their synthetic androids. Yes, sexual desire. Not programmed to say ‘yes’ if asked, but actual desire. Neural networks within their mainframe recognise their owner’s face, body, and their synthetic hormone sensors react accordingly, all within the Roboethics Guidelines of course. By law, all of SATinc’s units also have built-in security features, which enable an automatic shutdown and the AMA, the Artificial Moral Agency, and the police are notified should the unit’s pain receptors be activated. In accordance with our mission statement, SATinc prides itself on integrity and all customers are subject to full background checks, yourself included.”
But Lloyd’s A-Class Synthetic Human Android UNit, Shaun, is different from the beginning. Shaun doesn’t only do what’s been programmed, he seems to learn.
“You say things like ‘I feel’ or ‘I believe’ which I don’t think is normal. And the manual said you shouldn’t initiate physical intimacy, but you do.”
“I like physical intimacy.”
I smiled at that. “I know you do. I like it too, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. I just think something in your programming is over and above what SATinc meant to give. Like maybe your CPU.”
Which concerns Lloyd because he knows at some point SATinc is going to realize Shaun is different, and they might try to harm him or take him away and Lloyd is in love with Shaun.
“Shaun, I don’t know what the A-Class—if that’s even what you are—is capable of or what they were aiming for by developing an android so advanced, but I know this: I love you. I’m in love with you, Shaun. Android or not, A-Class or not. It doesn’t matter to me.” I kissed him softly. “I love you.”
As Shaun evolves, so does the mystery of why he’s different and what they’ll need to do to keep Shaun safe.
I wanted to love this. It’s written with N.R. Walker’s trademark emotional depth and humor, and while I did overall like the story, and I did find the relationship that develops between Lloyd and Shaun sweet for the most part, I couldn’t quite get over the fact that Shaun was programmed to like and want Lloyd. However much he evolved as the story went on, it didn’t change that he never originally chose Lloyd.
Everything about Lloyd is meant to be appealing to Shaun. He’s psychologically and physiologically made to be compatible to Lloyd only, and even though “consent” is programmed in and Shaun is often an instigator of their sexual relationship, the fact that he cannot orgasm unless Lloyd does, and the consequences of this programming, which are actually illustrated in one (horrifying to me) scene, at times made me personally uncomfortable. It’s really that point that struck me time and again. I think the concept of creating your perfect mate to be completely complimentary to you is a wonderful thought – but the whole cannot orgasm unless you do thing really turned me off, personally.
Also, another personal niggle here: if Lloyd had said or thought “oh boy” one more time I might have screamed.
Regardless, I found myself invested in Lloyd and Shaun’s relationship and worrying about what would happen if/when SATinc eventually figured out what’s going on. I was on the edge of my seat hoping there would be a happy ending to everything that was happening. Spoiler: there is a happy ending.
All in all it was a sweet, if unconventional, love story with a bit of angst, a lot of sexy times, and a HEA.