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Publication Date

Spring 2015

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Nicholas P. Taylor

Subject Areas



Automatons have long fascinated humanity, inspiring ever-greater advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence. Many works of science fiction, including Isaac Asimov’s prolific oeuvre, have considered how real and imagined advancements in robotics would directly affect human identity and our future as a species. In the young adult novel, The Secret of Plinket, both robots and humans struggle to define, or redefine, their sense of identity and purpose. The novel’s protagonists, Liam Plunkett and Clara Hartwood, stand to lose the most by discovering their true identities, as the two characters become engaged in the first chapter. Liam’s father, Jasper Plunkett, is the owner and resident inventor of the semi-isolated mining town of Plinket, where the novel takes place. His disappearance catalyzes Liam and Clara’s search for the truth about the town’s origins and their role in its continuation. Their search examines Jasper and Liam’s father-son relationship while challenging Clara to fulfill her potential by traveling beyond Plinket’s borders. As the couple comes to understand the complexity of Jasper’s inventions, the distinction between man and machine becomes increasingly blurry. When robots have become so far advanced that their programming and even exterior façades are able to mimic human thought and appearance, where will Liam and Clara draw the line between the two groups?