Now here is a strange, subtly unsettling, and generally unusual book, with a suitably unusual history to it.
Orgasmachine is Ian Watson's 'lost novel'. Originally written in 1970 during his stay in Japan, it was nearly sold (the publisher went bankrupt), re-written during the 1980s, sold to Playboy whose book division was sold and subsequently dropped the book; part of it was included in an Anthology in 96 to rave reviews, and it was finally published, back in Japan, in 2001 to coincide with the movie version of AI (Ian has screen-writing credits for that), and short-listed for the Seian award.
And, finally, in 2010, Ian Whates' Newcon Press released the book in English, too...
The story follows a number of friends from the same generation of custom-built girls: Jade with the huge blue eyes, Hana with her 6 breasts (plus a nipple on her chin); Mari, a furry cat-women, plus some others.
You see, this world is a man's world. Women are, by default, subservient, controlled via brain-nets, mood settings set via remote, and Dream-Cast from the all-controlling Data-Swarm-Male (MALE – for Module for the Application of Law Established). Women are things, owned and discarded at the whim of their owner.
The Three Laws of Feministics:
- Your body is not your own; it belongs to another. Therefore you may not damage it nor, through inaction, allow it to be damaged.
- You must obey all orders given you by your owner (or in cases of loss of ownership, by any man) even if such orders conflict with the First Law.
- You may not injure any man, nor through failure to comply with the Second Law, cause him displeasure and mental injury.
This has been described as an Erotic Novel before. I do not agree – this is a dystopia, and not a tad erotic in my opinion. I really don't want to live in a world where there live people which would consider such a scenario an utopia. This is, I think, Satire; grotesquely overdrawn to effect. Some scenes are macabre, surreal, and, at times, ridiculously over-egged.
There are a number of logical holes and unresolved questions or even conflicts in the story. It remains unclear if really all women are artificial, or remote-controlled/configured to personality type. Or are some of the things displayed local effects, some traits specific to some women, or to custom-built girls?
We also get very little in terms of background on the world this plays in, its history, or the reasons why things are the way they are.
The story also shows traces (scars?) of its history. Some turns and twists in the story jar, sometimes the viewpoint switches from 3rd to 1st person (or back) suddenly and without any real motivation, and some of the parts aren't always a cleanly joined together as they might have been. It is worth noting, though, that his didn't distract unduly from the story for me.
I'm not sure if I fully enjoyed the book – as someone who cares for these deformed “custom” girls (and how could you not!) some of those scenes are not easy to read I found.
Still, an interesting, unusual, and recommended read.
Author: Ian Watson
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher: NewCon Press
Publisher URL: http://newconpress.co.uk/
Publication Date: 2010
Review Date: 130902
Price: UKP 9.99
Topic: Gender Relationships