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Lifeform Three Kindle Edition
|Length: 266 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Lifeform Three, while not quite a dystopian book, is set in the future, and the only remaining countryside is preserved at Harkaway Hall, a theme park that is taken care of by bods. The entire story is written in third-person present tense, which can be really tricky to pull off, but Morris does it effortlessly. Morris's prose the entire book is effortless, always beautiful but always in service to the story she's telling.
And what a story it is. Simply, yet very profoundly, Morris brings up questions of belonging to a group, individual identity, our relationship to nature and animals, and how easily we destroy nature to suit our own desires. Everything is woven into the story so that it never becomes preachy or out of place. Paftoo is a likable protagonist, and I was rooting for him the whole way. The side characters all have their own quirks that separate them from the others (especially since each bod's name begins with 'Paf') and Morris also really knows her horses--not just the semantics of riding and training, but horses themselves. I would have read this sooner had I caught on that a lifeform three is a horse!
Best of all, Lifeform Three was perfectly clean. No language, no graphic content of any kind; I could easily recommend it to anyone. And I would recommend it. If you're looking for a thoughtful, unique, yet entertaining read, check out Lifeform Three.
Unlike the current trend in dystopian novels, there is no human blood or gore here, no guns blazing or a hero of super-human intellect and physical strength to save the day. The story begins long after any catastrophic event (I won't spoil anything by saying what it might have been) has occurred and we've adapted to the new world, just as we've adapted to this new world we live in of steel and style and technology and distaste for anything messy or gooey. Paftoo, our protagonist is a hero of humanity but is not human. Or is he? What does it mean to be human? All the other bods (robots) in this book are named Paf+a spelled-out number, but not the protagonist. His name equates to "Pafalso." There is a spirit and soul to this bloodless creation I can connect with. Perhaps you can, too, as Paftoo has. All of us on this journey of life have had our hearts hit by lightening, and we're usually left damaged with unpleasant changes and years of therapy. But when a bot is hit by lightening in the area where a heart would be, it's that bolt of nature's fury that changes him towards human qualities that can neither be touched nor nailed down in any of the sciences currently scrambling to dissect the human condition. Most important is the question of whether or not the human condition exists outside of nature.
I found this book both disturbing and satisfying on a very personal level. Three years ago we moved away from city life to a remote rural area that has left me feeling as if my shoes are on the wrong feet. Each of my days begins with a hike through rugged terrain in the oldest mountain range in the world. I have to if I want exercise because we don't have gyms or chlorinated pools or yoga studios. Within six months of living and hiking these hills, I noticed something had returned I didn't know had disappeared until they surfaced again--dreams. One little bit of technology piled on top of a minor swell of ambition and busyness had taken away the dreams while I was too distracted to notice. In Lifeform Three, Paftoo breaks rank with his kind when he begins to dream. Do we awaken to the weave of our existence with the natural world around us through our dreams? We're in a pandemic of forgetfulness and clutter in our contemporary world. Have we forgotten who we are and become finance, commercialism, marketing and entertainment robots? Are we so tightly would in thought memes we become ideas rather than the ones who create ideas? What can be pulled out of us by a beast of burden, a powerful and powerfully frightened horse with a tiny name like Pea?
It should be obvious by now that this book raises many questions with no easy answers. The voice and tone of the writing get out of the way of those questions and is absolutely flawless in its prose and voice. This is a unique voice rising in the literary scene and gaining attention, but one that won't easily be copied. Rather than a story well told or an enjoyable book that is read, this is an experience. I thought I'd spend the weekend reading this book, but sat down at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and left it only to eat so the spell would not be broken. It's not a casual read. It may be a new definition of the literary novel, rather than a blend of genres. Time will tell, and until that time has passed, it stands alone as a bold book written by an author unafraid of taking risks, holding up a mirror to our faces as we read, and has a beautifully delicate touch with humor, and word choices that surprise without interrupting the elegant flow of the prose.
“Lifeform Three” takes place in a future time at a theme park called The Lost Lands of Harkaway Hall. Picture a dystopian Disneyworld where “intrepid guests” ride around in pod cars taking pictures with their “pebbles” (smart phones) . The story is told through the eyes of Paftoo, a “redo bod” who works with a team of fellow bods to clean up animal dung, leaves and other debris from the park. The park is one of the few pristine tracts of land left in this future world, ravaged by environmental degradation that has laid waste to the seashore and other bucolic vistas.
The bods are programmed to perform menial tasks and they receive points for the amount of waste they can clear in a day. “Shovel the leaves; don’t think. Hum a tune. That’s the way to make it easier,” Morris writes, through the prism of Paftoo. “A bod’s life is redoing. Because all the time, the Lost Lands are being undone. By the lifeforms, the rain, the wind, the seasons that strip the trees in autumn and make them grow like nonsense in the spring. And by the Intrepid Guests, who drive where they shouldn’t, break the fences, spread litter and set fire to the barn.”
When the bods finish their daily work, they power off at night into a sleep mode, all except for Paftoo. In the opening scene, Paftoo is struck by lightning while trying to coax a huge horse into a lorry (truck) during a thunderstorm. At night, Paftoo dreams of riding horses and finding a lost door in the woods, but his memories are fragmented. While the other bods sleep, Paftoo roams the grounds and discovers a secret world. He tames one of the horses that roam the pasture at night in an effort to piece together his past.
He dares not disclose his nocturnal experiences with the other bods for fear of being “shared,” a process by which a bod’s mind is wiped clean of all past experiences. “A trouble shared is a trouble deleted,” is the oft-repeated phrase used to explain the benefits of sharing.
Morris raises questions about the issues of the day, from climate change to social media. The visitors to this theme park rarely exit their vehicles to enjoy the natural beauty; instead they snap pictures with their phones. The bods entertain the arriving visitors with dances and performances designed to sell products.
The author gives readers a glimpse of how the planet might look and feel in a future age when rampant consumerism ruins the environment and people don’t talk to each other and don’t care about their own memories or their planet’s storied past.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a quite, beautiful story about a sentient machine that tries to break free of what it was made to be to become something more.Read more
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