There is poignancy in the opening of Adam-2 as Chisholm gives us Adam alone in a stark basement, obediently carrying out his daily routines of food, homework, play, conversation, story time and bed. The plain, clear font used here emphasises Adam’s boyishness and innocence. However, when two children, Linden and Runa, break into the basement whilst they are exploring the area, what they-and we-see is a robot who has been waiting patiently for almost 250 years for the return of Father, his creator. Chisholm, then, has given us an uncorrupted child.
Adam does his best to communicate with them, to be ‘a good boy’ as Father had instructed him and while he meets with excited curiosity from Runa, he gets nothing but hostility from Linden, who tries to destroy him with a potent electrical charge. When a dangerous robot also penetrates the basement, following the children, Adam saves them from attack and joins them as they go up into the world, a world which he does not recognise, as it has been almost totally destroyed. Funks – robots with functional intelligence – and humans have been at war for centuries and there seems no end to the hostilities.
When Adam is taken to the human encampment he is greeted with suspicion and dislike and forced to undergo a gladiatorial contest against an immense and aggressive robot. He initially refuses but uneasily realises that this is the only way he can prove his allegiance to the humans. He wins the contest and uses his skills to repair and renew the technology damaged by war, but is also used to unknowingly complete a deadly weapon to be used against the Funks.
The story is full of manipulation and betrayal, made all the more horrific when seen through Adam’s initially uncomprehending eyes. When he meets his dying predecessor, Adam 6 he sees the same determination to destroy but becomes aware that robots have been maltreated by humans, used as slaves and that therefore there are wrongs on both sides. He arranges a peace council in the sacred forest of the healer, the Cailleach, whose connections to Nature and healing are an antidote to war.
This Council, too, is corrupted by the threat of a plague-spreading virus which the humans are threatening to unleash. Adam outwits both sides by tricking them into believing he has control over both weapons and a fragile peace begins to grow. In Adam-2 Chisholm has given us an allegory which hits hard in the current climate and a thought-provoking solution to the ills of the world.