A Perfect Machine
By Brett Savory
A Perfect Machine is a speculative novel set in a particular type of alternative universe you may be familiar with: the city as lab experiment. As with The Doomed City by the Strugatsky brothers or Alex Proyas’s film Dark City, the setting is a noir urban landscape that’s set up as a maze for people to run through like rats.
In this particular city a select group of people, known as runners, seek to avoid another group, the hunters, in a game dubbed the Inferne Cutis. Runners are shot and killed by the hunters and then brought back to life, with their memories partially wiped and their bodies filled with lead. Eventually they either die for good or are remarkably transformed.
Such a bizarre premise encourages an allegorical reading. Brett Savory may be addressing our anxiety that technology, which most of us can neither understand nor control, is experimenting with us, and forcing us to adapt and evolve into something new and very different. Meanwhile, the final wedding of human and machine is not a consummation devoutly to be wished, as there’s no telling what we might lose when we take that next step. In the future, will we even remember what we were?