Lifeform Three is unusual, haunting and draws you into a possible future world that many might think is already partially with us.
This is science fiction in its purest sense. Not the space-battling star adventure kind, but the thoughtful application of an idea. An idea where a possible science has introduced new human problems or cultures; new ways of thinking.
Yet this story cleverly interweaves an age-old fable: That of a man or woman and their depth of connection with some of our most beloved animals – in this case, ‘lifeform three’, or as we know it in our time, a horse.
What is unusual in this story, is that it is not a human in some future world rediscovering meaning through a relationship with an animal, but rather, the main characters in Lifeform Three are androids (known as ‘bods’).
Others have called the setting dystopian. I am not so sure. I think it is reflective of the point of view of the android concerned, and could be many things, as we never really see the full world explained.
In fact this is one of the strengths of this book. I love the way aspects of the story are left to our imagination, in the way many sci-fi greats do. We don’t find out how an old stately home became a dumbed down theme park. We don’t find out how the androids are manufactured, or how their memories and minds have been constructed.
No, we spend all our time in the head of the main character, who just happens to be an android, who we gradually learn, has some ‘memory issues’ (I don’t want to spoil the fun!).
Could we be heading towards this sort of idiocracy? It is entirely possible, and if there is one thing that Roz Morris leaves us with, it is the value of authenticity and connection, and for my part, that we should do our very best to preserve this and avoid feeding the crass commercialism that pervades our current western cultures.
Note: I was supplied an advance review copy by the author. I have previously read and enjoyed Roz Morris’s non-fiction books on writing, but this is the first full-length novel of hers I have read (and thoroughly enjoyed!).