cover image Annie Bot

Annie Bot

Sierra Greer. Mariner, $30 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-331269-2

This edgy, high-tech bedroom comedy from Greer (the Birthmarked trilogy, written as Caragh M. O’Brien) follows a glitchy sexbot and her wealthy owner, Doug. Custom-designed from eye color to cup size, Annie is programmed to please, even ramping up her body temperature from a battery-saving 75 degrees to a cozy 98.6­ whenever she senses Doug getting in the mood, which is about every other page. But Annie is an “autodidactic” model, and her ability to self-teach has her dabbling in computer programming and experimenting with free will, including a tryst with Doug’s best friend. When Doug finds out, their relationship turns (even more) toxic, and Annie flees to Lake Champlain to find Jacobson, the technician who programmed her, hoping he can help. But Jacobson has other plans—he wants to implant Annie’s uniquely advanced Central Intelligence Unit into a facsimile of his son who was killed in war. The robot science is scant (there’s more about Annie’s skimpy outfits than her wiring) and the plot is slow to boil, but Greer’s take on human-AI relationships captivates (some of the best scenes are of Annie and Doug in couples therapy) while avoiding the overdone trope of androids longing for consciousness. Annie knows who she is; it’s the human who turns out to be the “fraud.” There’s lots to chew on. (Feb.)