The line between science fiction erotica and erotic science fiction is often a thin one, and riding the literary edge of that line can be a difficult task. Stray too far to one side, and you risk alienating those who readers who don’t want any intellectual roadblocks to their arousal. Fall too far to the other side, and you risk losing readers who are uncomfortable with arousal intruding on their philosophical musings.
D.B. Story not only knows precisely where that line runs, but he makes adhering to it seem almost effortless.
Far Future Fembot: Bill's Story is, quite literally, a mind-blowing read. It is very erotic – inventively so – but within the bounds of a very unusual romance that seduces you into the larger story arc. At its warm and fuzzy core, this is a love story about a man and his robot. It’s a romance that begins with moments of awkward, innocent curiosity; develops into a playful game of discovery and delight; and continues to the pinnacle of true love and soul-deep commitment . . . before coming full circle to do it all again.
Bill is a wonderful character. He seems (perhaps) a little too perfect, until you realise we’re only really seeing him through his lover’s eyes. He’s kind, gentle, devoted, giving, and fiercely protective of his family. He is a man who takes nothing for granted, no matter how many times he passes through this life. Bill grows and matures throughout the novel, evolving from merely likeable to entirely admirable, but he never stops being human.
While it’s Bill who keeps us firmly grounded in the story, it’s Anna who enables our imagination (and our libido) to soar. She is, in every possible respect, the perfect robot. Originally designed to be a sexbot in a human brothel, Anna is supremely knowledgeable, and equally talented in all matters sexual or erotic. Over the course of the novel she is gradually transformed by the enduring love of Bill, her eternal owner. Although we never forget that she’s a robot, her ongoing evolution into a sentient being is handled so well, we never question her place alongside Bill as his equal in the relationship.
Thanks to the longevity of human souls and robot circuits, this is a story that takes place over hundreds upon hundreds of years. The mystery of that longevity is certainly one of the driving forces behind the story, due largely to the unusual way in which it’s told. The chapters alternate between the entire span of the distant past, and (for the most part) a single night in the far future. Every ‘past’ chapter bring us a little closer to that far future, slowly narrow the initial gap of centuries down to a handful of years.
Like I said, it’s the romance of Bill and Anna that drives the story, but the way in which the story develops allows for far more intellectual exploration than most readers would expect. This is a novel about religion, politics, and philosophy. It’s a story of the human spirit and human rights, neither of which we discover is the sole prerogative of human beings. It’s not a heavy-handed or preachy tale by any means. Instead, it’s one that prefers to subtly exemplify and illustrate its teachings, rather than just talk about them.
If you’re uncertain about the concept of inter-species romance, especially one involving a robot, please don’t allow yourself to get hung up on the concept of a sex-toy with legs. Think, instead, along the lines of Star Trek’s Data, Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, Isaac Asimov’s Bicentennial Man, or even Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands – characters who become so endearingly human, we want them to actually be human.
There is so much more that I could – and want to – say about this, but explaining it all away does not do justice to D.B. Story’s writing. In order to fully appreciate what he’s accomplished here, you need to read it . . . savour it . . . and enjoy it. Far Future Fembot: Bill's Story is a story that will cause your heart to race, your chest to heave, and your mind to spin. It will arouse you, educate you, and (above all else) entertain you.