The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks – William F. Aicher
The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S Sparks is a thought-provoking and unpredictable search for answers amidst a post-apocalyptic world that has witnessed devastation from chemical warfare. The surviving factions have deep divisions and a polarised belief of what life and society’s recovery should look like. Within this environment, David Sparks awakens in a grassy field with no memory, no sense of who or what he is, and is immediately confronted with a man wielding a chainsaw, who saves him from a snake. They strike up a connection and decide to travel together to Plasticity, the man is known as Calvin the Preservationist. In complete contrast are the more dominant and powerful Progressives, who continue to use science and technology to its full extent, and have built cities, such as Plasticity, on the sea after the chemical wars wiped out the ability to live on the land. The stakes of repeating old failures are high enough for each side to want to eradicate the other, which illustrates man’s inability to live without conflict, and the ongoing contention whether technology has a price that’s too high to bear!
David Sparks is a wonderfully developed character that enables the reader to feel the frustration of memory loss, moments of fleeting memory, and the sense of confusion around trust and existence. We are even unsure if David is human, Android, hybrid, mutation or a consciousness that exists in the communications network? The person he forges the closest feelings for, Rosa, leans in and whispers in David’s ear
“Just believe us when we tell you, right now, you’re the most important man in the world.”
David interacts with each opposing faction, each manipulating, each believing him to be their man. Both the Progressives and the Preservationists are suspicious but need to keep him alive to achieve their goals, and he just wants his memories back. Some snippets of memories suggest a different world and family that is so alien to his current predicament that it reminds me a lot of Total Recall and the conscious and subconscious disassociation, with flashes of unsolicited memories.
The storyline has various threads with fragments of plot and revelation provided in each chapter. William Aicher has faith in his readers to piece this together without him having to be mundanely prescriptive. We’re never too sure which aspects of David’s existence are reality, implanted simulation and memories, a dream, or something completely new that we’re about to experience.
There are so many levels on which to appreciate this book, and other aspects for us to consider are how we manage our planet to feed and support its population. How we treat and preserve nature and the notion that without humans, how plant and animal life would flourish. This is not a story that bashes or advocates any principles but is so well written that the reader cannot help but be drawn into the contemplation of how our planet is evolving with science and technology, and using its natural resources. As we develop Artificial Intelligence will AI entities feel human and will they be the best or worst of us. Will they establish love? Maybe love seen only in the context of the absence of loneliness.
This is a compelling and addictive story that I would highly recommend.