Maybe I’m wrong about this book. Maybe the whole point isn’t to tell a story. Robson could have just wanted to sow as much confusion as possible. If so, she’s done a remarkable job. Robson is constantly filling in little details in an attempt at world building and logic. Meanwhile she glosses over some of the more glaring stupidity.
For example, she admits that a powerful cyborg is probably going to be heavy so she inserted that detail about Lila putting elevators at their weight limit. And then she ignores all the problems with it. Not even counting the motorcycle issues I bothered with, she keeps it up. We start off this chapter with Lila telling us she’s wearing Barry’s boots.
What? Didn’t the engineers make her feet capable of coming in contact with the ground? What footwear could possibly withstand the strain of that much weight on such a small area? Leather would rip and tear, rubber soles would deform and fall apart. I don’t care how well made elvish footwear is, they didn’t make their boots with a ton of cyborg woman in mind.
Why am I nitpicking this? Not just to be a jerk—though it is what I do—but because it illustrate one of the deeper issues here. Just like PCK with her vampires, Robson isn’t actually getting inside the head of her character. Instead, Robson is distant as if she’s piloting Lila remotely. Because the author doesn’t treat Lila like a person, she can’t become a person.
Lila’s stuck being a two dimensional facsimile. Which would be fine if the focus of the book were something else. Niven’s characters are fairly shoddy things but his stories are more about the science and society. This story is all about the character; who’s flat and dull and that makes the book the same.
Anywho, Lila is running along behind Dar and trying to mimic his cat like grace. Lila misses being able to talk to people who aren’t Dar and the internet. They stops near a stream and Dar asks if she brought any music. Conveniently, Lila can play music through her hands which she puts over Dar’s ears like headphones. They listen to a song and Dar mentions that all they need know are some smokes.
Dar leans back against Lila as he listens in a way that should be awkward like a guy who’s just friends but trying to be more with a girl. Lila thinks about Barry who’s gone quiet. Somehow she can tell that he’s really a nice guy under that mean exterior. Which is exactly why he hitched a ride by trying to posses you, Lila. Good guys are often known for trying to destroy your soul and take over your body so they can cheat death.
Then Dar says it’s time to go and they get to where they can see the big lake in elfland. ‘Hey, Lila. You see that lake?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘That’s where Zal is.’ ‘Gotcha.’ ‘See, they built it underwater as a form of protection.’ ‘Really? And here I thought it was merely for aesthetics.’ ‘There will also be guards and all the magic that Arie can throw at us.’ ‘Good to know, are we done going over things the audience already knows?’ ‘No, it’ll also be hard to get in…’
Look, Robson, we know where Zal is and we already know about everything that’s in the palace. You don’t need to repeat it for our benefit. Just skip ahead to them sneaking in using whatever ‘clever’ plan you’ve devised. Just stop wasting my time.
Dar says they will need a story but they won’t be able to lie because “the lady” won’t be fooled. Lila says she’s working on it and Dar says he doesn’t expect any resistance getting inside. It’s only once they want to leave that he figures they’ll have trouble. So they wander along quietly while Lila asks Barry to prove himself. Lila knows Barry won’t answer her directly but just put the answers in her head.
You know, I can’t think of anyone that would adjust to having an alien presence in their head. Except for people who already share their brain with a couple of personalities. Lila can sense that Barry doesn’t like her and fears her cyborg parts. He recoils as she attempts to talk to him which pisses her off. Then Dar snaps her out of it as she was staring into nothing while talking to her invisible elf friend.
Dar says that she shouldn’t have played the game with Barry. Lila said she didn’t and that there was no wild magic. Dar says that Barry probably didn’t want to play but his “chi” overcame that and bound Lila to him. Basically the author couldn’t think of a reason Barry’s spirit got bound to Lila so she’s injecting some mumbly jumbly and hoping we’ll move on.
Then there’s a sex scene. Ok, it’s not quite so abrupt. Once second Dar is telling Lila she entered a game and saying she’s young. Then he offers her a bit of sugary tree bark and they start making out and tearing off each other’s clothes. Barry’s andalune and Dar’s touch and Lila can feel it but it’s not enough. Then they have sex and after it’s over they get dressed.
All I can say it what the fuck, Robson? Seriously, how are we supposed to identify with Lila at all? She has sex with the same guy who blasted her apart and then interrogated her. I cannot fathom a situation where anyone remotely human would do that. And so Lila has stepped off the uncanny valley and into the pit of nightmares. Along with Eragon, Bella, Zoey and countless other monsters wearing human skin.
And my gripe is not that they had sex nor that they did so without being romantically involved. My issue here is that there’s no reason for them to bone. What little characterization Robson has given them has shown that Lila’s extremely self conscious and Dar is a man all about his job. There’s been no indication that Lila just wants to get laid or that there’s some sexual tension between them. It just feels extremely out if place, like Robson needed to include sex or else her publishers were going to categorize this as “young adult”.
Then, because Robson’s not done being gross, Lila and Dar cuddle and make eyes at each other. Ok, so they are going to be romantically involved? How messed up is that? Now I’m picturing Lila telling her kids how they first met. ‘Well, I had some reservations about him when he blew my limbs off but I just couldn’t resist that charm of his.’ ‘Hey mom? Did he also damage your brain or are you just naturally retarded?’
Then they climb down to the lake. Yes, a lot of authors would call it a chapter after the roll in the hay but Robson wants to keep the tone schizophrenic. It takes Lila and Dar two hours to climb down to the lake which doesn’t really add a sense of urgency to anything. I guess they’re not worried about Zal being sacrificed like the Roc told Lila. She must be reading ahead before going along.
They drink water from the lake, it’s tasty, Lila says the elves should bottle and sell it and this angers Barry. Then they keep walking, Lila gets hot and turns on her coolant system. Wait, what? She has a coolant system? Is it hooked up to her organic body or just her machine parts? Oh, right. Robson only threw that detail out there to remind us that Lila is a cyborg.
Oh and Dar mentions that the lake water, the lake is called Sathanor, is sacred. It has the properties of any kind of magical fountain from any legend. It heals, cures disease, eases hunger and does your taxes for a flat fee with no hidden charges. Dar says that it’s a big deal that he’s even letting Lila drink of it. Right, because the elves won’t be mad that he’s a traitor to the crown but that he let Lila drink from the lake.
Again, in spite of not knowing that Zal has given in to the queen’s demands in exchange for his safety, Lila and Dar aren’t in any rush. They wander around the lake, hand in hand, and casually talk about storming the palace and if they’d have a chance. So they lay down and rest because all that effort done wore them out.
So they decide they’re just going to walk in. Lila asks if Dar could order Barry to cloak her in his andalune so they just think it’s two elves coming in to report. Dar says that Barry would consider it an abomination and Lila reminds him that Dar had no problem joining in the sex, spiritually, and that he should be dead and he’s not because of her stupidity. Plus he didn’t give a damn about trying to take over someone’s body.
After four paragraphs of talking about it, Lila finally asks Barry to mask her. Then he goes on about how changed and different she is and how she’s not longer just dead metal and blah blah blah. You just couldn’t stand for her to be a little special, could you Robson? You just had to feed your Unicus complex. If you do that every time it rattles its cage, you’ll never be done.
Then Barry tells Lila that she should know to be careful when screwing elves. Lila’s defense is that it wasn’t about control and Barry says he knows, that it was a suicide pact. Right, nice of you to shoehorn an explanation so assed it’s not even quarter. Barry finally agrees and they quickly go over how they’re going to enter.
Might I suggest the accompaniment of a theme song? Perhaps ‘battle without humanity or honor’ or maybe ‘Name of the Game’? Barry’s andalune covers Lila and the step into the water which opens up before them as they start walking into the lake and then surrounds them like they’re in bubbles. Lila is amazed they don’t drown and frankly I’m amazed that Lila isn’t sinking into and getting stuck in the mud as heavy things are wont to do. I guess Robson forgot again that Lila is a cyborg.
elf/cyborg threesome. screwing a cyborg can’t be comfortable.
Does it count as a threesome if the other is a spirit stuck in the body of one the two who are fucking and unwillingly participating? Though, the whole screwing a cyborg would have to be uncomfortable.
True but it does tell us that they didn’t replace all of Lila’s parts. Or did they and they’re just really good?
Can’t you just see the Lila/Dar relationship as a terrible movie trailer? “When they met, she was blown away!” [music stops; explosion sound effects] “Literally!”
“She thought love was only in fairy tales until one found her and blew her away.”