Published by Orbit Books on June 11, 2013
Genres: Adult SFF, Romance, Science fiction
Years in the future, dead women in cryogenic dating farms await rich, lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home. LOVE MINUS EIGHTY follows interconnected lives touched by these dating farms.
There's Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness but instead falling in love. Veronika, a socially-awkward dating coach, finds herself responsible for the happiness of a man whose life she saved against his will. And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in the heterosexual dating center near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the centuries pass.
In this daring and big-hearted novel based on the Hugo-winning short story, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance.
This takes Speed Dating to an entirely new level!
Love Minus Eighty is a study on how technology can effect our interpersonal lives. How it is forever changing what we as a society view as acceptable, the expected, the norm. This moving piece of fiction delves into what very well could be the possible future of dating and relationships.
“I promise you, the only reason I don’t seem nervous is because my heart isn’t beating.” – pg 47
From holographic images of ourselves left in singles dating bars just waiting to be approached, to complex algorithms calculating your attractiveness and compatibility ratings. There are dating coaches creating personal ad profiles while feeding speech lines to their clients such that some even live their entire lives on scripts.
“Oh for God’s sake,” Veronika said aloud. “This bird needs to get out of my nest and flap her own damned wings. Too much longer and it’s going to be so obvious she had a coach when they finally meet in person.” – pg 23
But the icing on the cake are the five minute speed dates where women must try to cram in enough personality in one session to compel someone enough to bring them back to life again…just for a few more aching minutes. Love Minus Eighty covers it all, these possibilities and more – but oh wait…doesn’t all of this exist in some form already today? Yes! And that is what makes it so possible for readers to really connect with it – is you can see all of this really being reality because some essence of it already is in our time.
People are more than what they appear to be and in this future, much like today, people are obsessed with how they appear and how they measure up against everyone else. I laugh, I cried, I felt my heart break for every word that made me relive one of my own experiences, and felt my heart warm to just as many others. It was in turns both darkness and light. Both what we wished were real and what is.
“What’s more real: What you think you are, or what external, objective reality tells you you are?” – pg 264
We are all a little bit broken, but broken can be beautiful too. When you have a moment when you don’t remember why life is worth living or someone breaks your heart such that you can’t see a reason in getting out of bed another day…
“You asked me, ‘What now?’ I can’t tell you why life is worth living, but maybe I can show you, if you’ll let me.” – pg 123
I fell in love with each one of these characters. Mira is a fighter but she’s also dead. As the “oldest” bridesicles in the program…she’s been in the center since her death, she can’t even remember her death but knows she will do whatever she can to escape the prison it’s put her in. Each revived moment is a struggle to try and find a way back to life.
“The truth is, you see, you died in the accident…” “…you’re at minus eighty degrees, thanks to your insurance, but full revival, especially when it involves extensive injury, is terribly costly. That’s where the dating service comes in–” – pg 3
Then there are Nathan and Veronika – they are dating coaches. Not only do they write dating profiles for people but they also coach them on how to attract the opposite sex – even so far as feeding them live lines as they listen in on their romantic encounters. I think Veronika’s a bit jaded but she’s awesome, she’s real and frumpy, still trying to recover from her own lost love. While Nathan her best friend, he’s a sweety yet a self centered one. The wicked guy that all the girls seem to fall for though. You know what I mean ladies.
“Do you ever wonder if this job makes it harder to fall in love? I mean it forces us to approach things so objectively: attractiveness ratings, desire to procreate, BMI, cognitive patterning, IQ, emotional stability quotient. Sometimes I think I’ve lost the ability to sit across from someone and just know what I feel. That I feel something, or I feel nothing.”” – pg 26
What about the strong and gentle giant, Lycan, is awkward and out of place, perhaps you’ve met him before or even shot him down for a date. Now Lorelei is a diva – she must and will have it all, all the fame, all the attention…all eyes and love on her, all the time. We’ve all known a Lorelei. Then lastly there are what I think of as the central people in this group – Like two distant stars in the night – Rob and Winter, the right people, the wrong time…need I say more?
In addition to seeing how the advancements in technology touch these people’s romantic lives it is mainly about how the Bridesicle program brings them all together, Mira, Nathan, Veronika, Rob, Lorelei, Lycan and Winter. As I’ve been raving about this book to any friend who will listen I first ask them, “Have you seen the movie Love Actually?” If you’re the kind that likes having a movie to compare a book to – well then it’s sort of like that movie in a way that it’s centered around this group of people and how they all connect. It’s about life, love, death, moving on and having hope.
“If you’re frozen when you die, there’s only a miniscule chance you’ll ever be revived, but there is some chance.” He held his thumb and forefinger closer together. “That tiny millimeter of chance takes the edge off our fear of death. As the lights are going out, you don’t know for sure it’s the end, so it’s not as terrifying.” – pg 189
This was an immensely moving and inspiring book. Though it’s considered science fiction I believe it transcends genre boundaries and is something that any reader would enjoy because it really touches on what almost everyone will or have experienced at some point in their lifetime. In one way or another one of these characters will resonate with you and you will feel what they feel, because perhaps you’ve been there also.
Love Minus Eighty is now among one of my FAVORITE books ever read. It is a deep examination of the methods by which we meet others and how we touch the lives of those around us.