Performance Criteria
by Mandy M Roth, futuristic (2006)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-109-2


If I have my way, I'll ban the word "mate" and its variation (lifemate, soulmate, lovemate, heartmate, et cetera) from the paranormal romance genre. Why are we using all these mates-thingie instead of the perfectly acceptable "spouse" or "lover"? I won't object to such a word if, my god, that word doesn't show up in every other romance story of this nature that it's complete overkill.

Sorry, I have to get that off my chest because "lifemate" shows up here and I have to take a deep breath to stop myself from, oh, screaming or something.

Performance Criteria is set in a different planet in the much distant future where aliens called Vanos are waging war with humans. Dr Aeron Braxton loses her best friend Bradshaw Fairbanks III when the man got killed while trying to save her during a Vanos attack. True to style, he tells her that he loves her before biting the big one. Cut to later when the Vanos has taken over everything and humans are reduced to forming pockets of resistance. Aeron in the meanwhile has worked on her top secret project: a super-duper droid soldier she's built from Brad's DNA and in Brad's likeness that she intends to use as the new T-1000 to kick Vanos behinds. However, she isn't aware that Brad is alive and well inside that droid body.

Okay, maybe this is just me, but when I read the excerpt available on the publisher website, I am led to believe that this story will be, you know, about heroic sacrifices and all. In fact, in the first two chapters I find myself thinking I'll be getting something good because Brad's devotion to Aeron, while may not be healthy if Brad is a real person and this is real life we're talking about, is really sweet. His devotion and love for Aeron manages to beat death itself - really, how sweet is that?

Unfortunately, instead of Brad going to war and all, I get instead in Performance Criteria a story where Brad wakes up, drives away that guy whom Aeron wants to hook up with, announces to all and sundry that she's his wife and he'll breed many brats on her, and sleeps with her as if he's something out of a Christine Feehan schlockfest and then it's the end. My mouth falls open and I don't know what to say.

This story is part of a series called Droid Wars. I look up the word "war" in my dictionary and the meaning of war is still the same as I remembered prior to reading this book. So, Ms Roth, where's the war? Brad is this killing machine. Well, make him kill something then! And no, my time doesn't count in this case.

If the book has a subtitle like Droid Wars and the back blurb talks about killing machines and a heroine conflicted about creating a killing machine which she has come to love, then the story should jolly well deliver half of what it promises at least or I will feel cheated. Because this story isn't part of a series called Debbie Does Robots and the story ends right after our heroine has been fertilized by a tin can with a big penis (now that's an image to remember), you can jolly well bet that I feel cheated.

This book isn't a completely bad read and it has some unintentionally comical moments. But for the sheer pointlessness of the very existence of this story and the fact that it has all that set-up for some kind of story only to end up delivering some silly sex scenes instead, I can't in good conscience give this book a passing score. Why on earth would the author allow what seems like a few chapters from a much longer book be published in its current form, I have no idea.

Rating: 48


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