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The Personifid Project Paperback – Bargain Price, September 30, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bartlett's debut novel is derivative of several science fiction novels and films, most pointedly the Matrix trilogy. As in those films (which many Evangelical Christians heartily embraced for their depiction of human society as barren and illusory), the characters in this story live in floating, green-tinted cities that are largely virtual. They are juxtaposed against Earthers, who live on the sunburned remains of the planet and are strongly reminiscent of inhabitants of the films' Zion. Fortunately, some of Bartlett's other ideas are more original. For example, scientists have been able to detect souls and move them to artificial, or Personifid, bodies when people tire of their human bodies (commercialism plays a small but fascinating role in the novel and in consumers' choices to do away with their own bodies). With the ability to detect human souls has come the ability to detect God's, which Christians in the novel refer to as the Tri-une Soul. Bartlett's Christian characters are compelling, as is their attempt to be in but not of the futuristic world of the narrative. Perhaps most frustrating is that Bartlett spends too little time fleshing out her provocative ideas and characters, and too much time on a hackneyed game of cat and mouse that involves endless car chases and plot contrivances. (Oct.)
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About the Author

R. E. Bartlett lives in the North Island of New Zealand. Though her pets have included a hyperactive Doberman, a loudmouth Siamese cat, a silly goat, and a wacky duck, she pays little attention to what is said about pets being like their owners. Her favorite writers include C. S. Lewis, J. R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, and P. G. Wodehouse.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (September 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591858062
  • ASIN: B003E7EZCK
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,638,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
I can only assume the Publisher's Weekly reviewer above is unfamiliar with SF as a genre. If every story with a plot that revolves around the conflict between advanced technology and what it means to be human is derivative of the Matrix, then so is E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" (machine takes over the world unbeknownst to humans, keeps humans in little individual rooms where it provides everything they need virtually, machine is battled by last few remaining free humans in the deserted wastes of Earth). Except that Forster's story was published in 1928.

The most significant difference between the Matrix and the Personifid Project is that the technology in Personifid is not self-controlling and self-motivated - it is under the control of humans who have very human motives, which presents us with a completely different set of moral/intellectual issues than stories containing self-aware/self-determining technology. And Bartlett is nice enough not to present us with pat answers to those issues, trusting us to do our own thinking and come to our own conclusions.

Another nice thing is that, unlike much fiction containing overt spiritual material, nobody in Personifid goes from sinner to saint in one easy step, and we never all have to choke on the sugar coating. The emotional and spiritual struggles are believable, and Aphra doesn't undergo tremendous leaps of personality development that no real person could match, so we can identify with her.

So, while the story does follow certain of the SF conventions, that's because... it's SF. What really matters, in this story and every other, is how the conventions are fleshed out with the author's own beliefs and characters. This, The Personifid Project does very well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By truefeather77 on March 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was ready to break into hives in this, because I guessed early on that it might be some religious book - so I expected it to degrade into nonsense. It didn't. What little there was, was more like new age thinking, which is like watered-down Buddhism, which is acceptable to me. No attempt to preach or to convert.

While the structure might need a little architectural shoring up, the story is still a fun thrill-ride, with several surprises and twists that actually made me gasp - took my breath away. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi is practically its own genre (not original to the Matrix, or even to Blade Runner) - it's a staple of science fiction, and that should not be held against this writer.

She's refreshingly original, and amidst all the inventiveness of the plot there was also humor, which sets this story above and apart. I do agree with the Amazon review, however, that the author brings up many intriguing ideas that might have been interesting to investigate. In this story they're more like a haunting perfume, or a melody heard on the wind - food for thought, as concepts which might soon affect our actual, not just virtual, reality. Questions about the nature of life, when does something cross the line and become a life-form, what is free will, will tease the readers mind as reality evokes haunting moments from this memorable book. If this is a first book, it's an impressive debut.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C.J. Darlington on January 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Welcome to the future. Robots and androids mingle with humans. Sky cars are the leading form of transportation. And the perennial obsession for longevity has created a technology so advanced that humans can now transfer their souls into artificial bodies, or personifids. The ultimate cure. A way to live forever. But what if Sevig Empire Corporation, the leading manufacturer of personifid bodies, has developed a way to control them? And what if one woman holds the coveted key to launch the project, but she doesn't know it?

Aphra is a young receptionist at Sevig Corporation whose life spins out of control when she accidentally hears a disturbing conversation meant for other ears. She hurriedly covers her tracks so no one will know. But when she witnesses her friend's "discontinuation" she's forced to flee Min City and the only life she's ever known. With assassins closing in and nowhere to go, she's thrust together with an outcast couple who might be able to save her. But what's with their unswerving belief in the Tri-une Soul? And how do they know so much about Sevig Empire?

Aphra marvels at the couple's strange world where they prepare food the "old way" in a kitchen, their house computers aren't equipped to administer Tranquility (a calming drug), and they actually own a real dog. More comfortable with robots and androids, she's standoffish at first, but the more time she spends with the couple, the more she yearns for what they have.

With Aphra as the prize for bounty hunters and assassins, what could she possibly have that Sevig Empire wants? The final revelation comes as an unexpected twist, and eventually it all comes to a head in a satisfying climatic battle between Sevig Empire and Aphra's new friends.
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Format: Paperback
This creative science-fiction story keeps the reader's interest with engaging dialogue and action scenes. The story moves along well, and we are caught up in the story. I was not aware of R E Bartlett, and found this a pleasing introduction to this new female author. This is the New Zealand author's first published book.

Bartlett presents an action adventure set in the future when artificial bodies have been developed and souls-minds can be transferred to these new commercial "personfid" bodies which never wear out. Of course, there are the political and economic threads that introduce us to the greedy, unprincipled entrepreneurs interested only in the money.

The story also focuses the moral questions involved in manipulating human identities and devaluing persons for personal financial gain. And then what do the individuals do with their old bodies after their souls or consciousnesses have been transferred to their new personfid bodies?

Amoral technology, indifferent government and unprotected private citizens. All the standard fare for a sci fi adventure, put together in a satisfying package. The story builds intrigue as the players on several levels of the story develop.

The dynamics are well developed by Bartlett. Industrial intrigue, underhanded business practices, assassination and other complications keep this story moving. The protagonist Aphra is believable. Aphra grows in her awareness of the challenges involved here, and in how to approach the moral and intellectual problems.

The dialogue is realistic, and the story moves along, carrying us with it and enabling us to consider the moral challenges this scenario would present to us. The reader will consider along with Aphra to what degree we control our destiny.
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