If I’m not mistaken, this is Ms. Evans’s first foray into Science Fiction, and it doesn’t disappoint. Adam is a robot, programmed to be a surgeon. He is what is known as a “mechanical,” which differs from a “humanoid” in that he isn’t manufactured to appear human. His shape is, more or less, human, but he is made of blue plastic, and his lips do not move when he talks.
The story is written in first person, from the perspective of Dr. Mark Michaels, a “Fellow” at a teaching hospital in Louisville. When Adam arrives, it becomes apparent that he is better and faster than any human surgeon. Dr. Michaels, for the most part, is not intimidated by this, but some of his senior surgeons are quite resentful.
As this story progresses, it ventures into territory that is both frightening and awkward. The idea of robot autonomy is addressed, and that is an unsettling concept. Both Adam and Millie, the nanny/housekeeper/cook humanoid that belongs to the Michaels family, at some point develop a measure of autonomy.
There are some even more unsettling twists that occur as the story unfolds, but I will not divulge those in this review.
The story was enjoyable to me, although not my favorite novel of Carley’s. To this date, that still remains I Am Sofie. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the ending, though. I don’t really feel like it ended; rather, it just stopped, and I wanted more. In addition, there were ways in which this story reminded me quite a bit of Asimov’s Bicentennial Man. Of course, Ms. Evans may also take that as a compliment, me comparing her to Isaac Asimov.
There may come a day when the question of robot autonomy is addressed in our society. I, personally, will never feel that machines should have “rights,” no matter how intricate and complex they become. If, however, what happens in Adam Immortal happens in real life, that will be an entirely different, and quite uncomfortable issue.