“The Perfect Wife” by JP Delaney was a sci-fi thriller, the author himself calls its it a novel of psychological suspense, based in the near future. Tim Scott is a brilliant start-up founder in Silicon Valley. His wife, Abbie Cullen Scott, a creative-type artist, who Tim falls in love has disappeared, but Tim has created an empathetic companion robot, called a cobot, to bring her back into his life.
Abbie, the cobot, has been pre-loaded with the memories of the real Abbie, but also has a digital mind that can “learn” as it makes logical connections, and can “pull” data from the Internet, and more memories “download” as she focuses on tidbits she comes across. She uses this intricate “mind” to devise a plan as the truth comes into focus and her very existence is threatened.
Themes of consciousness, and what defines a soul run through the thread of this novel. Emotional intelligence and empathy in a machine play into those themes as the cobot can use both the logical and emotional parts of her programming to make decisions. Another huge theme is marriage and relationships, and the use of power and control to get what you want.
The final piece of the book that adds a deeper dimension is Tim and Abbie’s son, Danny, who is autistic. This aspect, of grieving parents with differing views about how best to help him, using robots to “re-program” an autistic child, perfectly implementing consequences when unwanted behaviors arise, and even the contrast of having a robot with empathy and the lack of empathy from an autistic child, bring in a host of new questions and ethical concerns with tech like this that could potentially be around the corner.
JP Delaney’s book was very well-written. It had a compelling draw tugs at your brain even when you aren’t reading it. There was so much here to chew on that it should stay with me for awhile. I definitely recommend it!