This is how far I got: Chapter 1, Page 1 -
Functioning robots are all alike; every malfunctioning robot malfunctions in its own way.
Everything was in confusion in the Oblonsky's house. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with the French girl who had been a mecanicienne in their family, charged with the maintenance of the household's Class I and II robots..."
And? .... I could not continue. I will leave it up to author Ben H. Winters (who also wrote Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) to explain why he wrote the book. Even he admits that Leo Tolstoy lovers will hate this effort:
So would he have embraced my new book, which takes his masterpiece and adds talking robots and lizard-aliens from the sky? Which sends Anna and Vronsky not to Italy for their adulterous quasi-honeymoon, but to a colony on the moon? Which replaces the train, the symbolic keystone of the whole story, with the Moscow-St. Petersburg High Speed Antigravitational Massive Transport?
Absolutely not. Leo Tolstoy would have loathed this book.
To which I say, with all due respect to my esteemed pretend-collaborator, tough noogies.
Ben goes on to say that he loved Anna Karenina. Well, I didn't. While I found Tolstoy's original a powerful book, I can't exactly say that I loved reading it, though it did lead the way to my reading a number of other Russian authors, notably Turgenev. Back to Android Karenina. Here's what Quirk Book's press release said:
When these copper-plated machines begin to revolt against their human masters, our characters must fight back using state-of-the-art 19th-century technology -and a sleek new model of ultra-human cyborgs like nothing the world has ever seen."
Such absurdity might elicit laughs (and a serious influx of cash into Quirk Books' coffers), but this is not my kind of humor.
In The New Yorker, perplexed critic Elif Batuman, unsure about the book that plopped on her desk, decided to seriously critique it. She wrote: "The thing is that Tolstoy’s characters already lived in a “world of robotic butlers, clumsy automatons, and rudimentary mechanical devices...Tolstoy didn’t know about steampunk or cyborgs, but he did know about the nightmarishness of steam power, unruly machines, and the creepy half-human status of the Russian peasant classes."
Um, ok. To each his own.
If you are eager to read 538 pages about robot love (with 9 illustrations and a reader discussion guide), then perhaps you will be intrigued enough to leave a comment on this humble blog. Who knows, you might even win a free copy of Android Karenina! If anything, it makes a great doorstop! Only those who live in the U.S. or Canada are eligible. (So sorry.)
If you would like an opportunity to win this book, please leave a comment by completing a statement begun by Ben H. Winters: