Defective is a fifty-three-page short story by Pamela Stewart published in 2017. That makes it attractive to the young adult crowd (12-18) for which it was written. Older adults are also allowed to read it.
Xiau (or Sifu) is a scientist in China specializing in creating androids that can perform humint intelligence functions for the North Asia Army. That means they have to interact with humans to find desired information. Certain high officials are not happy with many of Xiau’s Android builds. Some of them seem to have a mind of their own. A visiting inspector has threatened to shut down the lab if the next assignment is not carried out in a satisfactory manner. The only android remotely available for the job is Zee.
Zee has never really been tested on the job. There was that accidental foray she had made into the mountains when she made contact with a ten-year-old village boy but that had been a trip without a mission, only exploratory. This was serious. The future of the lab depended on it. Xiau provided the download that gave Zee her mission. She had a cover story as to why she was going to Sector F although she didn’t know her real mission when she boarded the train. She was a bit embarrassed when attracted to a young man on the train but felt better when her download told her the young man was the mission. She was to observe Kuta at the military school both would enter.
Zee was now known as Victim Number One (a designation supplied by her drill instructor) and Zelda, her cover name supplied by her download (DL). Her download information was not fully accessible. She still didn’t know the details of her mission. It was as if she were being given information on a need-to-know basis. So far, the only thing she knew was that she had to watch out for Kuta. She liked that mission.
Finally, the mission surfaced from the DL depths. She was to eliminate Kuta. This did not fit with the emotions she was beginning to feel for Kuta. She knew logically that as a non-human should not have emotions but … it was what it was. When she found out that cadre in the school had a mission to kill Kuta and that she was a backup to their mission more emotional responses surfaced. How would she get out of her self-imposed dilemma? Would she try to save Kuta or would she follow the expedient path and carry out her mission?
The answers to these questions are why you should read this short novel. This is a well-written, action-packed, short story that I am sure my son will enjoy. I am sure other young adults will also.