What happens when you turn eighteen and there are no more tomorrows?It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction….
Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to Oxted—never to be heard from again.
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Imagine a world where we have lost the ability to reproduce. In Expiration Day, that is exactly what has happened. Oxted Corporation has the monopoly on "Teknoids", near perfect human copies of children. So perfect in fact, often times the teknoid doesn't even know they aren't human. Thus begins the story of Tania, her family and friends.
Tania Deeley grows up believing she is a rare human child in a world where most are teknoids. After an accident where she nearly drowns she learns that she too, is in fact a teknoid. But Tania defies the normal parameters of being a teknoid child or teen in this post apocalyptic world. She thrives and continues to grow both mentally and physically, taking advantage of the aging options to her body offered by Oxted. She has a best friend, that is human, and a meets a young man she likes. Tania, Sian and John spend several years experiencing normal teenage emotions and problems.
Tania, Sian and John are always looking for answers though, exploring the hidden archives and looking for a way for Tania to cheat the "Expiration Day." At the age of 18, the contract on Tania will expire and she has to be returned to Oxted. But when Tania's mother dies, her father sues Oxted and petitions to keep Tania after her expiration day. Will Tania be the first teknoid to survive the expiration day?
This really is a story about humanity within a world where the majority of the children and young adults aren't even human. Tania defies logic and premise throughout, she is a strong and emotional heroine. I'm reminded of the classic tale of Pinocchio with this book. Tania spends a lot of time thinking she is one person and wants these specific things in life, only to learn life is about so much more during her journey.
There were several twists and turns along the way, and I loved little things that were sprinkled through the story line that came into play at the end. I loved Tania's fierceness and her father's devotion. I could have done without the journal/diary style entries, and though the character Zog was an oddity to me until the very end, at the end I realized that was entirely the point! If you are a fan of Dystopian, Sci-Fi stories with strong female leads and an excellent moral core, you will love this book! I give it 4/5 stars.
William Campbell Powell was born in 1958 in Sheffield, but grew up in and around Birmingham. He was educated at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and gained a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge to study Natural Sciences. Leaving Clare College in 1980 with a BA in Computer Science, he entered the computer industry, which is where he has been ever since.
William has been writing since 2002, experimenting with various genres, but he is most at home with Science Fiction, Historical Fiction and fiction for Young Adults.
Thank you Mr. Powell for stopping by TTC Books and more today. I hope you don't mind me picking your brain for a bit!
~ What was the concept behind your story Expiration Day?
This may not be the answer you’re looking for, but many books depend on a single idea or concept. If you take that away, the novel unravels. For Expiration Day, that concept is the Uncanny Valley.
Expiration Day is a novel about the end of mankind. As the birth rate tumbles, would-be parents look to robot substitutes – which I call teknoids – to take the place of the children they cannot conceive. This preserves the appearance of normality and stabilises society. But as parents age, they need to be weaned off their teknoids, and the Uncanny Valley is part of that weaning. The Uncanny Valley is the name given to the nature of the bonding between humans and robot. A perfect simulation, by definition, allows humans to bond well, as human to human. A poor simulation also allows good bonding, as human to pet. But the almost-perfect simulation evokes fear – a human is “creeped-out” by the almost human. As the years pass, the shine wears off the teknoid, and the parents become aware of little differences, and reject the cuckoo in the nest.
Without that (scientifically valid) concept, all notion of plausibility goes out the window, as every parent would fight tooth and nail to keep their teknoid!
~ What inspires you to write?
A conversation, a chance remark, a memory of a dream – the initial ideas can come from anywhere and at any time, but frequently from the near-sleep time, either falling asleep or waking up. So I often find myself rushing downstairs in the middle of the night, to jot down an idea on the computer.
It feels like the human brain is always making unusual connections, and throwing out ideas – it’s part of the human problem-solving ability – but there are filters that we unconsciously set to stop our minds from being overwhelmed, so we don’t notice this wellspring of ideas. The trick is to just relax the filters, so that some of these odd ideas emerge.
~ Do you find any influence in music or television that merges over into your writing?
I find my characters tend to echo my musical tastes. But I don’t think I’m alone in that – if an author mentions music at all in their work, the artists they mention will place their age to within five years. So the tracks that Tania’s band covers are the tracks of my teen years. And why shouldn’t she? The best recorded music of the last fifty or sixty years has persisted well.
Television? Less so – I grew up watching Doctor Who, The Time Tunnel and the original Star Trek, but those programs influenced my writing less than the original SF stories that those shows also plundered.
~ What has been the most interesting review you've gotten for Expiration Day?
I’m still at the stage where I do look at the reviews on Goodreads, Booklikes, Amazon and also the independent blogs. They’re my feedback on how well I’m communicating with my audience. While it tickles my ego to get a five star review, the three and four star ones give me better pointers on how to improve as a writer. They’re the ones that understand the journey that I’ve tried to create, but point out the rough edges.
One of the earliest reviews I got was this one, by ‘Adam’:
One of the easiest books to "figure out as you go along" that I've read recently (I recognized each twist as it happened or far before hand)
Bother, I said. I thought I’d been so clever with my plot twists.
but I can only describe it as "fuzzy."
It gets worse. I spent so much time trying to write clearly. Ok, finish it off…
Every twist, every line, all of it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, a real "feel good" kind of book. In a subtle way, its one of the best books I've ever read.
And that’s all he wrote. But I believe that that reviewer had been pretty much on the journey I’d intended. That’s what a writer wants, to be read and to be understood.
~ Is there a sequel in the works, or another project coming soon?
Yes, I’ve got a good idea how to continue from where Expiration Day leaves off, and I’ve got about 20,000 words written.
But in many ways, I’d like to explore other sub-genres of YA and other genres of fiction before following the easy paths of sequels. So there’s a fragment of an (adult) historical detective novel set in the 1830s and a YA fantasy (as opposed to SF) novel also getting worked on.
~ Day or Night?
Night. I do my writing at night, when it’s quietest.
~ Coffee or Tea?
Tea. I make lots of cups during the day, but rarely finish a cup.
~ Pen or Pencil?
Pen. I still like the feel of writing with a fountain pen, but I can never find the ink when it runs out.
~ Paperback or E-Reader?
Paperback. A book has to be physical. E-Reader is only for when I’m travelling.
~ Vampires or Werewolves?
Werewolves. “An American Werewolf In London” is my iconic paranormal movie. And I don’t know if the British original of “Being Human” crossed over to the US, but Russell Tovey’s werewolf was a treat.
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