Picture if you will, a woman walking through a busy airport. She notices she is being followed. She evades, and kill her shadow. A typical thriller you might think, but here is the difference. The killer is Friday Jones Baldwin, an Artificial Person, a clone, "...her father was a scalpel, her mother was a test-tube..." Enhanced in vitro to be at the apex of her physical and mental abilities from the moment she was "born", so that as she matured into a fully grown woman, she was capable of being anything that she wished to be.
She appears to be the child of James Bond and Barberella, but if you read the RAH books, she is the designed child of a couple who would more than ably substitute for these two luminaries. Her artificial origins are hidden to allow her to live a full life, free from the petty prejudices of the times in which she lives. She is a modern woman with a high reputation at being the best military courier between the planets. She has several credit cards, mobile phones, a link to the net, a world view enhanced by global news networks, and her most precious assets, her wits. A fully liberated woman, with a worldly view, and a cynical eye.
This does not sound unusual to anyone these days, but this is a book that was written in 1962, before modern feminism, and certainly well before satellite TV became prevalent throughout the world.
Friday, the main character, moves from one situation to another. From being recovered from being a hostage, to being divorced from her poly-family, through to losing the one paternal figure in her life. Throughout each trauma, the reader is encouraged to identify with Friday, by the odd aside thrown in by RAH, and urge her on to succeed against all odds.
But the real beauty of this book is in the well crafted artistry of the language, and the way that the subjects of this novel that were topical in the early 60's are still topical today. Bigotry, love, suspicion, terrorism, the degradation of personal freedoms, the continuing inhumanites that man practices on man. However, before you turn over and go to sleep, none of this is couched in such bald terminology. The book holds symbolism aplenty and language which is a joy to read. RAH's idea of a complex turn of phrase involves monosyllabic words arranged in a way that will cause you to stop and think.
Although the book appears to be a series of novellas involving one key character, the joints are so seamless, that one does not wish to lay this book down, as the empathy of the reader is geared towards accepting Friday as their alter ego, no matter what sex the reader may be.
This is a book that can only be described in the most glowing terms. The subject matter is aimed at the adolescent and upwards, but the language is such that you can only wish that all your children should read a book such as this and appreciate it for the artistry of the language alone.