Today I am delighted to be able to kick off the blog tour for Set My Heart To Five by Simon Stephenson by sharing an sneak peek of the book with you. It looks amazing and unlike anything I’ve read before so I for one can’t wait to read the entire novel. My thanks goes out to Amber Choudhary for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for offering me the opportunity to share this extract with you. Enough chit chat, lets take a closer look at the book.
Set in a 2054 where humans have locked themselves out of the internet and Elon Musk has incinerated the moon, Set My Heart To Five is the hilarious yet profoundly moving story of one android’s emotional awakening.
Unhappy with his programmed job of dentistry and inspired by a love of classic movies, Jared sets out on a bold mission: to use the power of his burgeoning feelings to forever change the world for him and all his kind. Unfortunately, Jared intends to do this by writing his own movie, and things do not proceed according to plan…
Unlike anything you have ever read before, Set My Heart To Five is a book for anybody who has feelings, loves movies, and likes to laugh and cry and sometimes do both at the same time. It comes uniquely guaranteed to make its readers weep a minimum of 29mls of tears.*
*Book must be read in controlled laboratory conditions arranged at reader’s own expense. Other terms and conditions may apply to this offer.
Set My Heart To Five
By Simon Stephenson
My name is Jared.
I am sincerely pleased to meet you.
Also, I am a bot!
Unless you have been living under a rock in North Korea or New
Zealand – Ha! – you of course know what a bot is.
Nonetheless I am programmed to relay the following dialogue to
each new human I encounter:
Please do not be fooled by my human-like appearance.
I am a mere bot!
I do not have feelings or anything else that might be misconstrued as a
Instead, I have been programmed to a high level of proficiency in
Should you have any concerns please immediately report me to the
Bureau of Robotics.
But humans rarely find this information calming.
Instead, they see a fellow human standing in front of them claiming that he is not a human.
This bamboozles them!
It often bamboozles them so profoundly that they exclaim, ‘But you look so human!’
I then patiently explain to them what they anyway already know: that my body looks human because it is indeed a human body. It is engineered from DNA and constructed of cells the exact same way their own body is. It has the same basic needs – food, water, oxygen, regular exercise – and it can be injured or killed in all the same comically outlandish ways any other human body can.
Yet I am definitely not human!
Because the precious thing that sets humans apart is their feelings. And as a bot I am specifically designed and programmed to be incapable of feelings. I can no more feel than a toaster!
BTW that is a hilarious joke because the programming language I run on was in fact first developed many years ago for use in the domestic toaster.
Here is something curious I have observed about humans: informing them I am incapable of feeling often makes them feel sad. I suspect they believe they are being empathetic, but in fact they are being paradoxical. After all, feeling sad in response to someone telling you they lack feelings is like running a marathon in response to somebody telling you they lack legs.
Truly, if I lacked legs and somebody ran a marathon on my behalf I would not consider them empathetic.
I would consider them confused!
Nonetheless, it makes them sad, and making humans sad goes against my core programming. If ever I accidentally render a human sad in this way, I therefore quickly employ self-deprecating humor to amend the situation with reassuring levity.
So I tell the human they can think of me as a microwave oven with feet!
A mobile telephone with arms!
A toaster with a heart!
BTW I mean a heart in the sense of a mechanical pump, not a bucket of feelings.
The hearts of us bots are only ever mechanical pumps.
And they certainly do not contain anything as precious as a human ‘heart of hearts’!
Humans are only sad about our lack of feelings because they do not comprehend all the incredible advantages this gives us. To start with just one important example, a bot’s self-preservation instincts are based not on a human-type delusion that we are irreplaceable, but calculated on a rational cost-benefit analysis. It is hardly a coincidence that many bots have already made heroic and self-sacrificing contributions in fields as varied as nuclear firefighting, bomb disposal and NFL football-playing!
My own vocation of dentistry is also ideal work for a bot.
But this is not because we are expendable.
After all, dentistry is rarely fatal.
At least, it is not fatal for the dentist!
No, the primary reason bots make such excellent dentists is our complete inability to feel empathy. An empathic dentist – by which I mean a human dentist – could easily become distracted by inappropriate fear, criticism, or even mere crying from a patient. A bot is immune to all of these things and will get the job done every time.
Even when it comes to wisdom teeth removal!
Of course, the other reason why dentistry is ideal work for bots is that no human wants to do it anymore. Humans prefer jobs that are creative, social, clean, luxurious, and can be completed from a home office between breakfast and lunch. They strongly dislike jobs which involve an actual office, weekend work, children, blood, screaming and the mouths of strangers. Therefore when the laws reserving jobs for humans were being passed, nobody spoke up for dentistry.
Especially not the dentists!
About the author
So, I’m an author and screenwriter (and once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away I was a medical doctor). I am originally from Edinburgh in Scotland but currently live in Los Angeles, California.
I like all kinds of books and most kinds of movies (except horror, urgh) and love just about everything that has four legs except the chairs in my dentist’s waiting room. My spirit animal is P22, our local friendly neigborhood mountain lion. I have not yet seen him, but I live in daily hope.
My first book, Let Not The Waves Of The Sea’ was a memoir about the loss of my older brother, Dominic, in the Indian Ocean tsunami. The title comes from Khalil Gibran’s book ‘The Prophet’, and a particular passage that resonated with me. People have told me that book is more uplifting than it sounds, but you can of course decide that for yourself if you wish.
My new novel is called ‘Set My Heart To Five’, (that title I made up all by myself!) and it is the story of a dentist android called Jared – a ‘bot’ – who begins to experience feelings. The story unfolds in 2054, in a world where we humans have managed to lock ourselves out of the internet by forgetting the names of our favorite teachers and first pets. It is kind of a love letter to feelings, to the movies many of us grew up on, and the American west. So hopefully there is something for everyone….
Find out more about Simon by visiting his website here.