Sometime in the undetermined though not too distant future, three graduate students are living together, having the same kinds of problems that graduate students today can relate to: not enough money, preparing to defend their dissertation, wondering exactly what to do with their lives. In the quest to solve the initial problem of finances, the trio decides to pool their collective strengths and develop an interactive toy to sell.
Bennie is the marketing man who already has the right connections. Eli is the heart, the one who wants to make the toy rabbit as real as possible. Steven, the protagonist of the story, is the Dr. Frankenstein who sees the role of creator as a challenge, who sees the line of ethics as a blur on the horizon. When the toy rabbit (eventually to be known simply as Toid) begins to take on a life of its own, evolving at an incomprehensible rate, Steven canít bring himself to shut down the program.
P.J. Fischerís debut novel begins with Steven in jail for violating the laws of genetic manipulation. From there, a Pulp Fictionesque chronology takes place, with flashbacks to Stevenís youth, and picking up in the middle with the conception and evolution of Toid, and finally ending back at the trial.
Though the book is set in a sophisticated computer-driven world, there is nothing that seems far-fetched or beyond the realm of possibility, making this less of a sci-fi or fantasy novel and more of a warning or thought-provoking mission statement of sorts. At times, the scientific-based, technical jargon threatened to fly right over this literary-centric readerís head, but never quite passed the point of incomprehension, making it a very realistic feeling and oftentimes frightening book of fiction.
Each of the characters in Julia and the Dream Maker is delightfully flawed, caught between desire to see how far they can go and a nagging conscience holding them back. All in all, this was a very good read, with morality questions thrown in, though not pushed on the reader. It only escapes a five star rating because I felt my interest waning during the middle, before the action picked up again.
A sequel to the book entitled Julia and the Song of the Soul is
due out soon, and I look forward to reading it. You can read more about the
author, the evolutionary debate, and this book at the official site,