Title: Artificial Heart
Author: T.A. Creech
Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 93 Pages
Category: Science Fiction, Thriller
At a Glance: The intriguing concept and world building ultimately winds up feeling like just the promising beginning to a larger story.
Reviewed By: Cassie
Blurb: In a future where the United States is slowly rebuilding itself, Omega Travis Danten is a big city cop sent to a seemingly desolate city on the edge of the Waste. This desert is full of undesirables, and it’s only a matter of time before they wreak havoc. But, Omegas are always assigned Alphas, and his new partner’s job is to protect him.
But SdAI Alpha Virgil is not at all amused with the partner who chose him. Travis is willful and naive to the dangers a homicide detective faces here, and it makes Virgil’s job that much harder. And Travis, of course, is human and develops feelings, feelings that go beyond the rules about Omega/Alpha partnerships.
Travis and Virgil have to find common ground, find a killer, and find space for each other in their own hearts, even if one is artificial.
Review: I love speculative fiction; it’s so fun. Now, it can go really wrong, but it can also be spectacularly right: thought-provoking, challenging, and emotional. T.A Creech’s Artificial Heart lands somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, primarily because it’s not ambitious enough in scope.
I was really excited about the blurb. The premise is intriguing, and I did love the world building we got. It’s a little sparse on the ground, but what’s there is tantalizing and compelling. Virgil is an awesome character and the science behind him feels fictionally believable. I was interested in him, the choices he’s allowed to make, even as an AI, and the implications those choices have for the society T.A. Creech is building.
The murder investigation element starts off pretty well. The crimes are heartbreaking and violent without being overly graphic, and the clues seem to be baffling, though the plot really is more about the characters and their reactions than the point-by-point of the investigation. It is an excellent start to a potentially engrossing story.
Unfortunately, the ending doesn’t deliver on that potential. There are a lot of threads to wind up in 93 pages, and the early book is paced as though it expects a lot more room to play out. T.A. Creech does avoid cramming resolutions out machine gun style at the end, which is good. The downside is when I hit page 93, nothing felt resolved. I absolutely felt like I was only half way, or even a third of the way through a much larger book.
There’s no real closure to the romance or the murder plots. Virgil and Travis’s relationship hasn’t even reached the point where it would be tested by outside forces. And while the setup is there for some riveting exploration into themes of human rights, bigotry, and the natures of sentience and humanity and love, none of those themes ever really pan out in the book. I hopefully checked the author’s website thinking this might be the start of a series, but it’s listed on the single books page. So for now, this short is all there is.
Ultimately, this is a cute—but narrowly focused—spec fic romance. If you want something sci-fi and easy, you’ll enjoy the book. It recounts the very infant stages of a relationship that should eventually challenge the way an entire society views its citizenry and its relationship with technology. The most compelling part of that story is going to be the challenging society bit, and, because that’s not part of this book, I walked away feeling disappointed. My hope is that, like other authors I know of, T.A. Creech finds time to revisit and expand this book at a later point. I would absolutely come back to Virgil and Travis’ story if and when it picks back up on page 94 and delivers on the promising start it made in its first half.
You can buy Artificial Heart here: