Have you ever wondered if you were really a robot or perhaps an alien? I’d be surprised. Nobody has reason to doubt their personhood. My latest novel, The Newcomer, is about an android, a human-like, human-looking robot. He’s a young man who believes he’s a person, and why shouldn’t he?
The narrator is third-person-close, so the story is told mostly from the android’s point of view, making him a sympathetic character, and trying to overcome readers’ bias against extending empathy to a machine. It’s a tough character sell.
The android does eventually discover he’s a machine, and after many complications, comes to terms with himself as what he is, and isn’t.
While nominally sci-fi, my purpose in writing this was to explore the nature of human consciousness by contrasting it to an artificial consciousness. Unlike all the other books and movies about AI, I go to the heart of the important questions, such as the place of empathy, emotion, motivation, creativity, self-control, self-reflection, self-regard, spirituality and teleology.
The challenge was to make a non-human character sympathetic, and to make some difficult material regarding consciousness studies palatable to the average reader. Did I do it? I don’t know. I just finished the first draft yesterday. I’ll let it marinate for three to six months before I evaluate it.
Would you be interested in reading a novel like that?