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Our Jewish Robot Future
Leonard Borman
Scarletta Press, 264 pages

Our Jewish Robot Future
Leonard Borman
Leonard Borman is a Detroit, MI native. He's an accountant, husband, father to seven, and grandfather to 15. He received his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Wayne State University and Masters Degree in history and literature from the University of Michigan. Our Jewish Robot Future is his first book.

Leonard Borman Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Leonard Borman's Our Jewish Robot Future is the story of Margarita Haralson and her husband, Alex, whose desire to have grandchildren causes them to create a future race of robots and found a new Garden of Eden.

The Haralson's story is told almost as a confessional, with Margarita describing a visit she and her husband had to their rabbi to tell him about the strange events which happened to them. Alex was taken to a future world inhabited by robots and Margarita found herself with a robotic replacement for her husband. This strange encounter gives Margarita and Alex a chance to find a new and important place in their lives as the progenitors of a new race, to make up for the disappointment Margarita feels about her own children.

The Haralsons two children include Roman, who did become a doctor but has returned to live in his parents' basement, where he spends his days in a marijuana stupor, and Caroline, who is living in New York and experimenting with the possibility that she may be a lesbian. Neither live up to Margarita's desires either professionally or personally, and, although she refuses to give up on changing their lives, she also finds the need to get grandchildren so overwhelming that she is happy to consider the non-organic grandchildren Alex saw in the future as a possibility.

Margarita is a mixture of Italian and Jewish stereotypes in just the right amounts to make her an almost entirely unsympathetic character. Based on the thoughts that go through her head, and to which the reader is all too privy, it is no wonder that her children have found their own ways to rebel against her, although since everything we know of them comes directly from Margarita, who is not the world's most trustworthy narrator, anything the reader knows about Caroline and Ramon is suspect.

The novel could be seen as satire, although more humor would help in that regard and, hidden behind too many stereotypes and a train-of-consciousness style, Borman's targets are too scattered to form a cohesive statement. The narrative jumps back and forth between past, present, and future, with a healthy dose of internal commentary and often interrupting one part of the story for another part, leading to a lack of structure.

Borman does include some genuinely interesting ideas and scenes in Our Jewish Robot Future, but they are buried so deep in the story, and guarded by the insufferable Margarita and her haphazard narrative style that they are hardly worth the effort to ferret them out. Often the science fictional elements appear to be tacked on without actually being a part of the story, which only serves to further distract the reader.

An unwieldy narrative structure, a plot that meanders, and mostly an untrustworthy narrator who doesn't have the likability of a scoundrel means that Our Jewish Robot Future fails to live up to its potential as either a work of satire, a science fiction novel, or a philosophical look at Judaism in the world of today and tomorrow.

Copyright © 2011 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a seven-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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