Ball Machine

Ball Machine
Can an android win Wimbledon? Or the soccer World Cup? What about the heart of a beautiful woman? When the beautiful bio-robotics prodigy Rosa Rodriguez joins an elite science project in the Arizona desert there’s only one thing missing from her life: a decent tennis partner. So she persuades the guys to build her an android – Vitas, the robot who plays to win. Whether it’s tennis, football, or making love to beautiful Russian starlets, Vitas is a true ‘ball machine’ – relentless, untiring, and highly skilled. But when Vitas decides to turn pro, the world of tennis will never be quite the same again. A tale of androids, intrigue, tennis champions, criminal conspiracies, the world’s worst football team… and the ultimate, non-binary meaning of life.

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I loved this book to gushing point—fairly rare for me. Why? In a nutshell, it’s expertly written in a distinct voice, has a delightful central character and a great cast of supporting geeks and sports fanatics, an interesting, well-paced plot and, one of my pet delights, a touch of metaphysical/philosophical insight.

Vitas Rodriguez is an android, thrown together by a brilliant bunch of scientists working in a remote area in their downtime. Rosa, the only girl in the team, wanted a tennis partner, a ball machine, and she offered to strip for the boys if they managed to make her an android that did what she wanted. They succeeded better than they had hoped. No one quite understands how this android, the result of a mishmash of scavenged parts, became self-aware but somewhere along the way, he did. Perhaps it was the philosophy they uploaded to his hard drive and the background programming’s directive to work out the meaning of life.

Vitas is strong, fast, tireless and smart. He knows how to learn. And he loves to win. The book is written from his point of view, and it’s a wonderful one; an endearing mixture of innocence, drive, determination and the confidence that comes from clear programming. I never doubted for a moment that these were the thoughts of an Android, but a very human one. He feels things in his circuits rather than his heart or his veins, and every night he plugs himself into a power socket to recharge. Though he can’t see how it’s possible, he even suspects that what he feels for Natayla might be love.

The story is full of descriptions of tennis and football matches, but the author never lost me (a non-sporty person) in too much detail. Instead, the descriptions drew me into Vitas’s enthusiasm and deftly built to the climax of the game.

During the story, Vitas comes face to face with situations where his programming has conflicting directives and in the end, even the most vital one of all, ‘obey Rosa’, must be questioned. This is without a doubt, a 5 star read. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a really good story.

More from this author
Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways
Lost In Thought
The Dry Lands1

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