Skinner, Robin Wasserman

Lia Kahn just died. This is the story of how she continued.

Her world is not the one we know. It’s in the future, after a war, with new technology. One of the newest technologies is one which allows a child’s brain to be downloaded, and put into a robotic body. There is no organic part in this body, it is all metal and plastic. Adults can’t be downloaded, it drives them insane. But the mind of a 16 year old could take it.

Lia was in a car accident, a terrible one. Her family is very rich, and her father paid for her to be downloaded, or “skinned.”

So she wakes up in a robotic body, with her memories, and her life waiting for her. Or is it?

This story covers so many issues. Oh man. The rights of health care to the poor or disabled. What does compassion mean. What does it mean to be human? What makes you human? Is it your memories, your body, your ability to feel pain? Your ability to die? Because Lia and the other skinners are  immortal, effectively. Are there medical lines that should not be crossed? Does “quality of life” come into it? Does a robot have a soul?

You see, the war that ruined the world was about religion, which means that it’s kind of a hot-button topic. Those who believe in God are adamant that it (the skinners) are an abomination. Sorry, Lia, but you’re basically a demon now. Politically Correct people think that it’s a wonder of technology, but they don’t want to see it.

This book just tore my heart out and stomped on it. The scenes with her little sister were AWEFUL. I gave it three stars out of five. It probably deserves a higher score, I just- didn’t like it. I mean, it was VERY Good, and the end was heartbreakingly inevitable. I just didn’t like it. One of those books that makes my internal organs try to crawl away. Certain hypothetical situations are just not fun to ponder, and this is certainly one. Makes me glad I’m poor, because we couldn’t afford this, and there’s no way socialized medicine would spring for skinner children. *shudders*

Because I’m not so sure that the believers are wrong. If you make a machine to think that it is a person, is it really? Are we only our memories, or is there something more? I do think that there is something more, and I’m not sure that it can be copied. Of course, I’m not much of a believer in free will anyhow, so BLARRRRGLLLLLE. *incoherent waving*

This book needs a nice, heavy discussion with lots of philosophy. I just don’t want to take part. 😀


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