A Human Emotion is a dystopian science fiction novel by Australian author J.M.C Hoult, under the pseudonym Philip G. Scott. Inspired by such classic science fiction novels as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Nineteen-Eighty Four; the novel is set in the "not so far away" future, where humanity have fled their home galaxy to escape dangerous solar flares some two hundred years before the novel begins.

In order to escape their doom, humanity created a cybernetic race colloquially known as Cybers to built spaceships that were sophisticated enough to enter a new galaxy. Similarly to other cybernetic organisms in fiction such as the Replicants in Blade Runner (1982) and the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica and its 2004 re-imagining; the Cybers have a tense and often conflicting relationship with humans, who view them as subservient beings built to solely serve humanity.

This is further agitated when a Cyber model Castimonia 45 suffers a malfunction which makes him rape a young woman, which triggers a series of events that threaten to ensue in civil war and rebellion. At the head of this tension is the troubled detective Frank Drummond, who lost his job and family five years before hand due his addiction to a futuristic dream-amplifying drug known as fantagen. While dealing with his own personal problems, Frank must stop the Cyber uprising from reaching unstoppable heights.

The novel's film rights were bought by Warner Bros., though no official production has begun; Leonardo DiCaprio has been in talks for the lead role.


Mankind have left the Milky Way. Two hundred years ago, the Earth was destroyed when the Sun went critical. An uncertain future awaits them. Tensions between humans and cybernetic androids, or Cybers, is at an all time high. When a Cyber named Castimonia rapes the daughter of a high official, the gap widens between man and Cyber, threatening to cause civil war.

Former policeman turned journalist Frank Drummond is enlisted to help find Castimonia, and bring him to justice. What ensues is an often disturbing and surreal journey through the workings of both human and cybernetic life. Frank will have to decide whether to preserve the peace between humans and their android servants, or all out civil war on his hands. But Frank has a past that he wants to forget about; he is addicted to the hallucinogenic drug fantasgen, and it cost him his family.


A Human Emotion is set approximately two hundred years after humanity's exodus of the Milky Way (although no definitive date is given, the date at the time of the novel is supposedly 2566), on a string of settlements, or Regimental Colonies, in a new galaxy humanity have taken to calling "Novus Sidera". Although there is no definite number for the amount of settlements; several are named, the protagonist Frank Drummond was born on Peranos, the central settlement is known simply as the Central Colony, or the Regime Hub. Other named colonies are Deus Rubrum, Turris Domini, Solis, and Lunae Lucet.

The Central Colony is divided into several distinct districts divided into their main purposes; i.e. Judiciary District, Commerce District, State District, Residential District, Penitentiary District, Sovereign District, Industrial District, etc. Similarly the lesser colonies are known to have smaller versions of these districts.

Society and Culture


Humanity, much like the humans in Battlestar Galactica, is a lost and fearful race. Although they found salvation in this new galaxy, their numbers dwindled significantly. Even though the threat of solar flares disappeared after their exodus two hundred years beforehand, the common problems of humanity still exist; crime, corruption, and the troubled relations between cybernetics and their human creators.


Some two-hundred years before the events of the novel, humanity was threatened by destructive solar flares. Technology was simply not advanced enough to build sufficiently powerful spacecraft, so humanity devoted their sciences in to creating a functional cybernetic race. They originally planned to prohibit any sort of emotion in the organisms, but in order to create functional ships the cybernetics needed creativity.

Shortly after the creation of space faring vessels, a program was implanted in the cybernetics prohibiting any form of emotion, thus rendering them "un-human". This program was removed, or "mediated", in later models; though the likelihood of a cybernetic feeling any form of emotion is fairly unlikely.

Cybernetics appear relatively human, although their blood is black, and they speak in concise and appropriate manner. Unlike humans, they gather information by "assimilating data" from booths scattered across the human settlements; although there are hubs, or "data dens", that run illegally and usually offer "prohibited data" (any data that encourages or promotes free thinking and radical ideas).


Key Dates

  • 2055: China is divided into four separate entities after Chairman Shingwei's assassination.
  • 2060-2067: The First Sino-American War.
  • 2080-2088: After peace talks, the Second Sino-American War commences. The war ends with the formation of two new distinct nations; the Trans-Atlantic Democratic Republic (USA, UK, Canada and parts of Northern Europe), and the Eurasian Confederacy of Partnered States (Asia, Russia, Oceania).
  • 2300s: The Earth is threatened by solar flares. Faced with certain destruction, the T.A.D.R commences the Cybernetic Intelligence Salvation Program. The E.C.P.S is dissolved after infighting, merging with the T.A.D.R to become the Great and Gracious United People's Social Republican Confederacy of United Nations, or G.G.U.P.S.R.C.U.N, lead by the Commander.

Film adaptation

Since its publication, A Human Emotion has been optioned for a film adaptation. Leonardo DiCaprio has been a high profile name in the possibility of a film, and Philip G. Scott has said if a film were to be made he would write the screenplay, and he had mentioned some directors he would like, inclduding Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan. No official production has begun, but Warner Bros. have bought the rights to the film and are in negotiations with Philip G. Scott.

At a press conference on the 14th of April 2012, Philip G. Scott and Barry Meyer, CEO of Warner Bros., announced that the film rights had been bought by Warner Bros., and that development of the film would begin in the coming months, with a predicted 2014 release date. No directors have been attached to the project yet, but Scott is writing the script and producing.

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