The Personifid Project 

by R. E. Bartlett

 

If you are looking for a change in Christian Fiction, The Personifid Project just might fit the bill. A science fiction novel set in the future which brings up some good ideas to think about, The Personifid Project is also a fun, easy read. It is "science-fiction" enough to send the reader to a different time, yet maintains a basic language and storyline that is easy to read and understand. The reading level and content could even be considered appropriate for young adult readers (middle school and up.) There were a few times when I felt like some ideas were anachronistically placed-things like watching baseball or eating a burrito-but overall a fun yet intriguing story which calls to mind Christian ideals and ways of thinking about where we just might be heading with some of our scientific and technological advances-and does so without preaching to the reader.  

 

 © Stacey Kouba, 2012

 

 

 

R. E. Bartlett's The Personifid Project is set in a world of the future, peopled by humans, robots, androids, and personifids, human souls relocated into artificial bodies. The technological advances, particularly the personifids, have raised new ethical questions, and these questions get to be pretty sticky as protagonist Aphra Vessey deals with the evils of her employer, the corporate giant, Sevig Empire. The book is fast-paced and intriguing. It sets up a believable world of the future, and the characters that inhabit that world are compelling enough to make the reader want to know how things will turn out for them. The story is well-told, making for a page-turner of a book.

 

Questions of the moral quagmires associated with technological advance are always of interest to me, and those questions abound in The Personifid Project. Some of the big questions that receive attention in the novel include: when science discovers the existence of the human soul, what does this mean for the notion that "God is Dead"? and (more central to the narrative) when souls can be transferred into artificial bodies, what are the implications for the free will that humans enjoy?

 

What I like about the book is that these questions are integral to be plot, rather than feeling like the plot is just a vehicle for exploring the questions. In fact, the questions are raised because of the events of the narrative, with each character coming to his or her own conclusions in regard to those questions. No final answer is exactly offered (other than the clear delineation of the evil intents driving Sevig), and by the end of the book several of the main characters seem to have come to slightly different conclusions about how these issues need to be handled. I think that makes for a more interesting, nuanced treatment of the problems. By letting the problems arise naturally in the course of the tale, and then letting each character work his or her answers out for himself, the book functions more like real life. The plot doesn't get bogged down by the questions. The questions, instead, are part of the plot, integrated into the events of the lives of the characters who are trying to figure out how to make their way through the world in which they find themselves.

 

© 2012 Shelly Bryant