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Dr. Identity, by D. Harlan Wilson
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
Published: 2007
Review Posted: 11/27/2007
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Dr. Identity, by D. Harlan Wilson

Book Review by Adrienne Jones

Have you read this book?

If you look back at 'futuristic' science fiction from anytime before the mid-eighties, you'll see many of the technological and sociological aspects of a given dystopia matching up with our current reality. It's the old, "Could you imagine what we'd have thought of cell phones back in the 70s?" In D. Harlan Wilson's Dr. Identity, the dystopian reality has a striking, if not sideways similarity to our own.

We're first introduced to Professor Blah at Corndog University, where each teacher must forgo his identity and assume the name of a famous literary figure, such as Dr. Dostoevsky and Dr. Hemingway, an amusing jab at the pretension of some academics perhaps, or rather 'plaquedemics' in Wilson's world.

The social commentary continues as the students' fashion statements are presented as outrageous, often painful exhibits, which include such things as 'love handle implants'. Ultimately, confusion over the 'student-things' fashion leads to Dr. Blah's downfall, when he sends his robot Doppelganger, Dr. Identity, to teach for him on a day he's not feeling quite up for it. In an attempt to gain the sleeping teens' attention, Dr. Identity slays a student's robot Doppelganger with an axe...or so he thought, unaware of a new fashion statement of wearing cyborg contact lenses. He has mistakenly killed a student, and Dr. Blah must answer for his Doppelganger's actions.

But before he can even react, the cyborg, Dr. Identity goes on a killing spree, and exterminates the rest of the staff, having developed an enlightened sense of being with the taste of murder.

Thus starts a man/cyborg hunt as Dr. Identity takes control, and whisks his human counterpart out of danger, becoming a stronger, more daring, and wincingly violent alter ego to the maudlin Dr. Blah. On the run, they fly from hiding place to hiding place in the science fictionalized world of Bliptown, chased by DNA dogs and mutant pig police officers.

Wilson's social commentary targets consumerism, as the duo encounter shopping monsters programmed to attack if a customer spends too long in the store without making a purchase. And the media takes a hit in this book as well, as a rabid, overpopulated force of yellow journalists seem to be the only news source for the city.

"The motive for these seemingly random acts of ultraviolence is still unclear, but the Papanazi is on the case, and in due course the truth will inevitably be uncovered and revealed."

With humor that's sometimes subtle, sometimes like a sledgehammer over the head, D. Harlan Wilson gives a colorful tour through surreality on a dystopian jetpack of the future, while turning a funhouse mirror on our over-stimulated, often ridiculous present day world.
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