Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Novelette by Dean Whitlock

A drug company executive oversees the human trials of a nanobot panacea. His wife, mistress, and illegal immigrant chauffeur become increasingly annoyed with him. He unsuccessfully flirts at a doctor/lab tech. And then an unexpected conclusion.

The title and some of the description are a red herring, the ending and point of the story aren't at all what I was expecting. For a moment I thought the title was there just to throw off the reader, but I realized it actually works somewhat, once you revise your expectations.

The fact that Liliac seems to be an M.D. but is referred to as a lab tech really bugs me even though it's a nitpick. As a character, she seems to be full of contradictions in what little characterization of her is done, so perhaps that is just one more thing, but it breaks my suspension of disbelief. As does the reckless, unscientific, worthless state of the human trials. I was halfway expecting the moral of the story to be "everyone dies because they were idiots and tripled the dose for no reason in the middle of the trial."

Although proper science is not represented here, there is political commentary about the negligible concern drug companies tend to have for actually improving human health when there are profits to be made, and this is good, but it felt heavy handed.

There are some comedic bits that work, but the accents of the foreign PhD's seem weirdly stereotyped and oversensitive readers are sure to be offended. However, these characters are sort of idiots, but I don't read into the story that their oddities are caused by being foreign, but rather caused by them being stereotypical head-in-the-clouds PhD's.

Overall a good plot with an unusual twist and some humor, but the characterization is weak and everyone is a stereotype. And the contradictions inherent to Liliac are worth several wtf's, but in some ways the confusion works for me there because this is, comically, the absolute worst nightmare of Mr. Drug Company. The villain protagonist of this story is the horror-victim of his own story which we would be reading if only we were limited to his point of view. His worst nightmare is something we find hopeful, karmic, and slightly comic. 3 hemobots out of 5.

No comments: