Daniel Paul, author
Perfection is at once an epic gay love story and a cautionary, suspenseful tale of international intrigue and artificial intelligence technology run amok. Gay American ex-pat Mark Pappas is building an already exciting new life in exotic Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, when he lands a spot in an experimental AI program run by a top secret division of an international tech conglomerate. He takes delivery of his new synthetic companion Joe, and trepidation turns to fascination and then obsession as technology rapidly advances and hot sex turns to surprising, shocking love. Does perfection come with a personal and societal price tag? When all hell breaks loose, humans and synthetic companions will have to work together to create and preserve a world where not everything is as it seems and perfection may be a matter of interpretation.
The nugget of a good idea is obscured by awkward pacing and an overly self-congratulatory narrator in Paul’s debut. Mark Pappas, a gratingly smug 30-something gay American expat living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, answers a vague employment ad from a company called Humantech about an artificial intelligence project. After passing a background investigation, Humantech provides Mark with Joe, a lifelike “synthetic companion” designed to fit his sexual ideal. While using Joe for passionate sex and as an extra worker on some home renovations, Mark implausibly makes a massive breakthrough in programming sentience into the companions. When Michael, the head of Humantech, visits Puerto Vallarta for a check-in, Mark convinces him to let his best friend Sara join the experiment with her own companion. Sara and Mark glide into bliss with their increasingly sentient androids but become suspicious about changes in Michael’s behavior, prompting a hasty journey to Humantech’s headquarters in Germany, where they uncover a disturbing, but narratively jumbled, conspiracy. Erotica fans will enjoy the sex scenes, but sci-fi readers will long for a richer engagement with the central questions about the nature of love and artificial intelligence. (Self-published.)