In “Eye Candy,” Ryan Schneider follows the philosophy/action blend of Asimovian promisory fiction; deep thoughts, interesting characters, a creative future setting, tense action. Well, maybe he doesn’t push the philosophy too hard, but that’s all to the better. The first part of the story tells about Dan Olivaw (Asimov fans are hearing the “spoiler” bells ringing), a young, handsome, rich hunk who meets Candy, a real “keeper,” and they start a relationship that is too good to be true. The second part deals with what happens when it isn’t. And that’s all I’m going to give you; more would spoil the fun. The rest of the story is filled in with images of what Los Angeles might be in the 2040’s, and the old question that has split the United States for a century and a half; how do we treat citizens with unequal rights?
This is a book that delivers on everything promised in the title and on the cover. And a whole lot more. Its main strength is in the well-portrayed characters, even the robots, of which there are many. Especially the robots, actually. Even the waiter-bots in the restaurants get their own quirky personalities. Future settings, both physical and social, are rendered with caring precision. Given the hints from the beginning, the whole situation is primed for irony, and tongue-in-cheek is the order of the day, especially for Asimov fans who pick up on the clues.
My only problem with the story is that sometimes there is just too much.
For example, there is a point in every novel just before the middle where all the characters have been introduced, where the plot is set, the conflict is established, and there is time for everyone to take a breather and enjoy the premise of the book. Sometimes this is called the “fun and games” section. Since this is a love story, the fun and games section is where the reader explores what it would be like to be young, good-looking, rich and in love. Private jet jaunts, steamy nights in free fall, wild restaurants, tailormade drugs, the works. However, a story can also hit a point where the fun and games has gone on for too long, and the reader starts to wonder if there is really any more to the plot, or if this is just pornography. Chapters 18 and 19, for example, could probably be removed without missing a beat of the necessary storyline. Although we’d miss some steamy bits for sure.
There are also too many characters to keep them all straight, entertaining and creative though they may be. It backs the reader off from involvement in the story when you have to stop to remember who the heck so-and-so is.
And there is definitely too much macho banter during the final battle scene. The author should remember that humour is one of humanity’s ways of reducing conflict. While soldiers may use it this way in real-life battle, authors over-using it at intense moments in their story actually undercut the suspense.
Otherwise this is a professionally written book, properly edited, and a pleasure to read. Recommended for all SF readers, and Isaac Asimov fans especially. Hey, if you saw the “I, Robot” movie with Will Smith this means you.
Four stars out of five.