Sammi by W. D. County follows the world’s first fully intelligent android, created under the watchful eye of the United States government, and classified top secret as a hidden weapon against the foes of democracy and capitalism. He is perfect in every way: stronger, faster and more capable than any human, and with all the advantages of the most sophisticated computer system in the modern world in a lifelike chassis. The only flaw with his design? He was created too intelligent, and too aware, and his emotions are beginning to prove a serious problem in his work. The world’s first successful android has now been deemed too human by National Security, and a quietly desperate Sammi, or the “Self Aware Mobile Mechanical Individual”, now seeks help from Dr. Terra Smithwell, newly-widowed mother of one and a professional psychologist who works primarily counselling and treating military and ex-military personnel, to cure his self-diagnosed “depression” in hopes of being saved from deactivation.
W. D. County gives a smart and endearing life to what could easily be considered pulp fiction in a less capable hand with all the charm of the quirkiness to be found in the genre. While definite science fiction, much of the technology described is absolutely believable as presented in context, from some additional detail on how a simple jamming program works to the surprisingly easy to believe idea of an android walking around in this psychologist’s office, with every effort to make the machine pass as a regular – if almost too handsome and well-mannered – undermined only by subtle hints of a Turing test failure. These tiny details keep a constant argument for either side running in both the characters’ and the readers’ heads.
The author clearly has some knowledge of both electronics and psychology, and flexes their muscles on each subject without making things seem any more unnatural and forced than the characters themselves are supposed to be. Sammi has a habit of quoting and over-specifying, Terra likes to make her points with a medical edge, and numerous other characters have their own unique view on the same web of circumstances and ideas that create a colorful and well-rounded tapestry for your reading pleasure. Let the book immerse you and the idea of a scheming and despising cyborg doctor quoting Mary Shelley while putting together a secret mechanical doomsday weapon will somehow not seem too out of place besides a robo-humanoid romance and a military mystery thriller.
Sammi is a genuine page-turner, one that I would, and have recommended, to anyone looking for a suave mechanical fix. The structure is very well thought out, revealing enough information from multiple perspectives each chapter to stoke the fires of interest constantly and push you for just one more page before bed. Descriptions remain short and snappy, giving the right doses of flavor where they’re most needed, and dialogue flows naturally and interestingly with few dead spots in the entire text. W. D. County strikes a key balance of thrill, intrigue, philosophy, science with a dash of romance and a threat of a robot apocalypse that I absolutely adore and hope to see more often in the near future.