A Review of: An Unnatural Life, by Erin Wagner

Another novella (groan).

**spoilers ahead**

The story is based in the future, in a colony on Europa. Mining colony. Humans, live and work there, as do sentient robots. The robots look very human-ike, so much so you might not tell them apart.

The humans are extremely racist against the robots. (gag me with the wokeness).

Not an enjoyable read, but kind of intriguing.

A robot is thrown into jail, for murdering a human. A human is sent to ‘rehabilitate’ the robot, to get it back into the work force. (rehabilitating is a thing commonly done with humans.)

The humans all around are extremely prejudiced about this rehabilitation. They don’t like the robots – very hostile and racist with them, nor do they think it should have the option for rehabilitation. Just kill it! (but they have rights, and that’s not legal.)

So the story follows Aiya, who is tasked with the rehabilitation. She discovers that 812-3 did not willingly murder the human. But that the robot was involved romantically with a co-worker at the mine, Taffie, who is married. She tells her husband, the husband tries to strangle her, and Taffie issues an [illegal] command to robot 812-3, that removed free will, and orders it to kill her husband. 812-3 does. But it doesn’t want to.

Aiya is met with much resistance from local community, law enforcement, everyone. To the point they threaten her life more or less, for pursuing the job she is tasked to do… then for doing her best at it.

812-3 asks for a new trial, and receives it. Humans are in uproar.

Naturally the humans kill the robot, when returned to a prison cell during the trial. Despite the truth.

Then, it ends.

It’s kind of a story arc, but feels so utterly lacking and incomplete. There was so so so much more this story could have been… if it were a book, and a complete story, fleshed out and explored.

Additionally, it’s a novella. But, there are two side story plots that have zero value.

Firstly there’s a bunch of personal drama & friction with Aiya, and the woman she co-habitats with. It’s distracting, and offers very little to the story, other than the anger of the humans effect her, in the shared home. The plot line, and the friction between Aiya and housemate – feels 98% useless, and not needed. And detracts from the story. It goes nowhere after a lot of build up and time spent.  

The second side plot: no idea how this made it thru editing. There’s a completely unrelated story about scientists exploring for life signs at a geyser on Europa. It has zero to do with the story ( same location is the only link) and never ties to the other story even a tiny bit. WHY?? Why include this?


Rating: 3 out of 5.


• Story pacing?

Painfully drug out and wanders aimlessly. 2/0

• Story character arcs?

The robot 812-3 – okay, we get an arc. As for the humans, so incomplete. 2/10

• Story arc?

Incomplete. 2/10

• Story writing quality?

Did not enjoy reading this. From story to writing style. 2/10

• Story wokeness? ( tolerable / gag me)

Gag. Shame on humans! They never learn! Gag me with your wokeness. 0/10

• Grates against my annoyances?

Yes. Scatterbrained – already short being a novella and wasting so much with two useless plot strings. 0/10

• Grates against my annoyances? (fictional words).

Nothing outwardly fictional or unpronounceable, yay! 10/10

• Story romance level?

None. But you wonder the whole time if there is between Aiya, and housemate. They keep implying there is “more”; and at the same time that that were thrown together, and it’s a business arrangement, essentially. 3/10 for being ambiguous.

• Story readability?

Reads fun, but not enjoyable, and so many distractions. 2/10

• Story Completeness (did it end on a cliff hanger, or a see my next book!)?

Kind of ended… 812-3 got a trial, got cleared, we found out the reasons it happened, etc. but it feels hollow, and lacking. 5/10

• Did the story cover familiar ground, or go new places?

Colony on Europa? Check. Been done before. Sentient robots? Check, also done. No fresh feelings here. Yawn. 4/10

• Was there anything I wanted to know that was left unanswered?

What was going on at mystery drill site? And how is this related to the story I read??

• Things I really liked / or didn’t like?

I liked the details about 812-3. A more developed character, with depth, layers, and nuances. But it was only the tip of the iceberg it could have been. 6/10

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: