This was an unusual book set in the future. The action took place in a country estate, The Lost Lands of Harkaway Hall, a hidden valley of the past which has been preserved as a tourist attraction. Indications are given that the world outside this estate is highly industrialized and nature has been eradicated. This is a world where the sea has encroached and there is no countryside.
The main character, Paftoo, is a bod. And initially I was uncertain whether bods were people, robots or clones, but whatever they were it was obvious they were conditioned, and unable to think for themselves. It was the bods who maintained the Lost Lands, and they performed tasks in accordance with their programming.
Bods do not eat or sleep, they just swich off. Paftoo, however, is becoming more aware and he dreams when he should be switched off. His dreams show him riding a horse and he becomes obsessed with finding it, but the horse of his dreams is gone and he has to find another one to take its place.
I was totally pulled in to Paftoo as a character and he felt completely real to me, even after I realized he was a robot like all the other bods. Paftoo is different though. He has feelings and emotions, and he no longer switches off at night like the other bods. He knows he is different so has to hide the changes he is going through, but he is unsettled and spends his time thinking about the horse, and wandering the estate.
I don’t want to tell you any more about the book or I’ll be giving away the complete plot. Suffice to say that I found this futuristic novel thought provoking, and interesting. This is a world where there are lifeforms and non-lifeforms. The lifeforms are the animals and the `intrepid guests’ who never get out of their cars. And the non-lifeforms are the bods who are park assets, like the tractors and the equipment.
But for me, Paftoo was more real than any of the lifeforms.
This is a book well worth reading, and it will make you think.