Genre: Science Fiction
Sub-genre: Near future
Rating: 1 pint of blood
Like most human beings, I'm a sucker for shiny and pretty things, and that includes cover art. The cover here is quite striking, with fantastic use of negative space. The hint of a fmela shape is very well used, although I might have liked to see a woman with darker skin for even greater contrast. Regardless, the composition and lighting is gorgeous here, and the result is a book cover that catches attention. Specifically mine.
The title basically says everything you need to know about the premise, and it was enough to intrigue me. After all, there's a lot you can explore within the bounds of a human/robot relationship.
Ever since his wife's death, Mike has been lonely. Eventually he decides he's had enough and orders a robot to be his companion and finds his life improves in every way once she arrives.
No, really, that's it. That's the plot. His Robot Girlfriend wasn't the title, it was the plot summary. This novella is 100 pages of male fantasy fodder about the perfect woman, which apparently means someone inhumanly and eternally hot who will take care of your house and your life so you never have to lift a finger. There's no plot, no character development, not a whiff of conflict. Every time something arose that could have developed into a plot or even an element that could have been moderately interesting, the book took the fastest turn-off road to get out of there. Mike's two adult kids have no reservations about their father having a romantic relationship with a robot. Patience (the robot) doesn't bring up any questions of sentience or emotions or free will. She just quietly does what she's told, which mostly involves things like cleaning the house, cooking the food, finding ways to bring in extra income, and doing most of it while naked or dressed in a skimpy outfit, described in loving detail.
Look, I absolutely think there's room for male fantasy fodder within a book. Let's face it, most genre fiction basically exists as some sort of escapism and/or wish fulfillment. Fantasy fodder fits comfortably in there. Being a chick, male fantasies don't as a rule appeal to me, but I understand their inclusion, as long as there are other elements to hold my interest. Quantic Dream put together a short demo of their new motion capture technology. Their female robot protagonist is naked through almost the entire thing, but in less than 7 minutes they have more conflict and emotion than this entire novella. Even Futurama did an episode about society disapproving of human/robot relationships. In typical sitcom format, everything was resolved and returned to status quo by the end of the half hour and included a cartoon Lucy Liu in a skintight catsuit, but it explored society's reactions to human/robot relationships and involved a plot much larger than "man gets sexy robot and sexes it up a lot." I basically made it through this novella because I kept waiting for something to happen, some conflict to pop in. More fool me.
His Robot Girlfriend is available for free in a variety of formats through Smashwords.