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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson


This review contains spoilers.
When I commenced reading this short story, I agreed with various other reviewers stating the book appeared similar to Avatar--as the story progressed--my mind began to waver on that point of view.

Joe, who's a man made being, lives on Jupiter controlled by a handicapped man named Ed, though there's a last name listed, I will call him "Ed."  Ed is a disabled man who must move around in a wheelchair, and his job keeps him hooked to the avatar, but that's where the similarity ends between this book and James Cameron's laughable movie.

Joe can live on his own, though Ed controls Joe using his brain power, exploring the environment through Joe's eyes. A problem arises with the machine-- a tube (those pesky tubes from the 1950's) continually dysfunctions. Another scientist believes that Ed's sick and tired of Joe, however that isn't the case at all--Ed loves being in Joe's body. Who could blame him--he can roam around, drinking methane and eating random animals raw that wander near him. He makes pet animals (his dogs) out of giant caterpillars, and he's free from constraints.

Eventually, Ed leaves his human body and Ed and Joe fuse into one being.
The similarity to Avatar ends early in the story, since there isn't dragon riding and becoming one with the dragon through Ed's ponytail, or an ancient tree, or other ridiculous storylines from Avatar. Yes, Ed stays in his avatar, but the avatar in the movie didn't have any type of mind of his own--plus there isn't a strong culture in place in the book.

Ultimately, the scientist on their little space station come up with a beneficial idea, bring up humans (with disabilities who wish to go)for the purpose of connecting  their brains with the dozen Jovians recently sent down to the planet's surface without human control.
They also discuss sending the elderly up, anticipating living an extra life before dying "for reals."
An interesting concept, and personally when I'm a hundred years old, I could stand a caterpillar or two as my special pets.