Martin is a Dish Fourteen, a genetically modified child who lives in the dome suburb called HM1. In Martin’s world children come as product lines. Each year a new, improved model is advertised on television. If a married couple wants one they just fill out the right forms and the “stork packet” comes bearing their new child.
Everything new that comes HM1, from children to consumer goods comes on rail packets. Martin’s father is the packet chief, the man in charge of making sure that packet arrivals and departures go smoothly. All the real work gets done by freight robots, but Martin still likes to accompany his father on his job, because the packet chief’s special job allows him to spend time near the only entrance and exit to the suburb HM1.
Martin doesn’t know for sure what lies outside the dome protecting his suburb. He’s heard stories about endless sand dunes and poison gases in the air. Martin doesn’t spend much time wondering about things outside, though. There are always more important things to worry about, like the daily national vote. Today the president wants everyone to vote on what color his drapes should be. Everyone knows that it is of national importance that they contribute their vote on the issue.
But Martin has other worries as well. As he explores the loading bays where his father works, and carefully observes the people of HM1, he begins to notice disturbing signs of stress and hidden secrets. He watches in horror and disgust as centipede-like government surveillance robots spread electronic spy bugs around the city. Terrified, he hides as a unhappy citizen of HM1 is sedated and removed from the city by a collection robot in a white lab coat. Slowly, Martin begins to loose his trust in the system that has protected him for so long.
At the same time Martin worries about the Wonder Babies. These children came as a special product line a few years ago, but now everyone is concerned about them. Not only are they much too smart: reading books at two, and doing algebra as toddlers, but they also ask dangerous questions about their world. They don’t seem to respect the important order of things. They raise doubts, as questions such as “Why do people vote about the color of the president’s drapes rather than voting about who should be president?” They even speculate that the president may not even pay attention to the voting results! They claim that instead he picks the vote results based on his own personal preferences.
Martin’s younger sister Cassie is a Wonder Baby. Though she sometimes irritates Martin with her constant questions, Martin is very attached to his younger sister. He hates the fact that older children and even some adults tease and resent the Wonder Babies for their genetically increased intelligence. Martin is determined to protect his younger sister, even if it is difficult at times.
But then Martin discovers a plot to get rid of the Wonder Babies. Their strange ideas and views have attracted the attention of the government, and government agents have decided to recall the Wonder Baby product line. The government will do what they do with any other recalled product line: destroy the defective product. All the Wonder Babies are in deep trouble, and the people of HM1 don’t seem to care. Only Martin wants to help them so he sets out to save his sister and the other Wonder Babies. His only tools are his own deep stubbornness, and a modified toy robotic dog.
“The Sky Inside” by Clare B. Dunkle is very well written. The exciting plot is aided and advanced by the amazing descriptions of advanced robot technology. Clare B. Dunkle has filled the story with incredible descriptions of technology that make “The Sky Inside” science-fiction at its best. The characters are also first-rate. From the genetically modified humans, to the advanced robots, each character that plays a role is unique in its personality.
I also liked the utopian/dystopian air of the story. “The Sky Inside” is full of important messages about the future of mankind and the dangers of where technology could ultimately take us.
I would definitely recommend “The Sky Inside,” both for its amazing science fiction world, and for its utopian/dystopian messages.
Inkweaver Book Rating: