‘Set in 2054, when humans have locked themselves out of the internet by forgetting the names of their favourite teacher and first pet, Set My Heart To Five is the hilarious yet profoundly moving story of one android’s emotional awakening.‘
– Set My Heart To Five
Set My Heart To Five by Simon Stephenson was published with Fourth Estate 28th May 2020. It is described as ‘a hilarious, touching, strikingly perceptive story of the emotional awakening of an android named Jared, and a profound exploration of what it truly means to be human.‘
Set My Heart to Five is set to become a major motion picture with Edgar Wright directing, and Working Title, Focus Features and Universal Pictures producing. All very exciting news indeed so I am really delighted to bring you all an extract today as I join the tour thanks to Midas PR.
[ About the Book ]
Unhappy with his programmed job of dentistry and inspired by a love of classic movies, Jared sets out on a bold mission: to use the power of his burgeoning feelings to forever change the world for him and all his kind. Unfortunately, Jared intends to do this by writing his own movie, and things do not proceed according to plan…
Unlike anything you have ever read before, Set My Heart To Five is a book for anybody who has feelings, loves movies, and likes to laugh and cry and sometimes do both at the same time. It comes uniquely guaranteed to make its readers weep a minimum of 29mls of tears.*
*Book must be read in controlled laboratory conditions arranged at reader’s own expense. Other terms and conditions may apply to this offer.
[ Extract ]
My dental practice was in the township of Ypsilanti, in the great
state of Michigan.
That made me a Michigander.
Humans from Michigan believe ‘Michigander’ to be a hilarious portmanteau word. They are wrong. A portmanteau combines two words
to signify a third thing composed of those constituent parts.
‘Michigander’ would therefore be an excellent portmanteau to
describe a male goose from Michigan. But it is an inappropriate term
for any human, regardless of their gender or where they come from.
Another collective delusion Michiganders share is a curious belief
that the outline of their state resembles a human hand. Consider
these contrasting data points:
Michigan is 250 miles wide vs A human hand is approximately 4
A human hand has a thumb and 4 fingers vs Michigan has Detroit
and over 10,000 lakes.
Michigan was the 32nd state inducted into the Union vs A human
hand has never been inducted into the Union.
By any reasonable interpretation of this data, Michigan does not
resemble a human hand. Nonetheless, anytime Michiganders wish to demonstrate where a particular place is located in their state, they
will invariably hold up their hand and point to a spot on it.
Therefore imagine that I am holding my right hand towards you and
pointing to a spot at the base of my thumb. If you were an orthopedic surgeon you would know that place as ‘the anatomical snuff box’,
a notoriously poorly designed part of the human body. If you were a
Michigander, you would know that place as ‘Ypsilanti’.
Despite its unfortunate geography, Ypsilanti is a pretty town with a
great amount to off er. It is best known as being the home of Eastern
Michigan University and its terrible football team, the EMU Eagles.
Ypsilaganders nonetheless frequently express civic pride by shouting
‘Go Eagles!’. They even paradoxically shout this in the off season,
when the only place the team would realistically be going is on
Go Eagles – up to the lake!
BTW do not ask me why the team is not called the ‘EMU Emus’.
That is exactly what I would have named them too.
Yet Ypsilanti boasts many exciting attractions beyond its imperfectly
named football team! Surveys have found that people traveling
through eastern Michigan will detour up to sixteen miles to visit
Ypsilanti’s water tower.
This is not surprising: male humans are fascinated by objects that resemble penises, and our water tower was once
voted the ‘Most Phallic Building in America’.
The inordinate phallic obsession of male humans fascinates me!
Perhaps it is because I myself do not have sexual urges.
After all, sexual urges are feelings.
Imagine if bots had sexual feelings and were able to reproduce
The world would soon be overrun with little toasters!
Ypsilanti’s more family-friendly tourist attraction is the Tridge, a
three-pointed crossing at a fork in the River Huron.
Unlike ‘Michigander’, ‘Tridge’ is a true portmanteau, appropriately combining portions of the words ‘Triple’ and ‘Bridge’ to denote a structure
that connects three points of land over a body of water. Nonetheless,
humans do not find the word ‘Tridge’ hilarious in the same way that
they do ‘Michigander’. I can only hypothesize that there is something
intrinsically hilarious to humans about a male goose but not a bridge.
BTW ‘I cannot’ is a human term I have adopted to put humans at
their ease by seeming more human. It is used to express exasperation,
but also as shorthand for ‘I strongly disagree’ and ‘This person or
species is irrational and therefore irritating to me!’
Of course, the very best thing about Ypsilanti is the world-class
Dentistry in Ypsilanti is performed to exactly the same standards
maintained everywhere else in the country.
We bots are nothing if not consistent!
My appropriately average dental practice was called ‘Ypsilanti
Downtown Dentistry’. It was housed in a small medical building on
Main Street. The human I interacted with most frequently there was
my assistant, Angela.
Some relevant data points about Angela:
She was employed as both receptionist and hygienist, but resented
the receptionist element of her job.
She loved cats but believed she was allergic to orange ones.
It is not immunologically possible to be allergic to a specific color
That Angela believed that she was allergic to orange cats is what
To humans, Feelings > Facts.
Although Angela was the human I interacted with most frequently,
the human I interacted with most deeply was Dr Glundenstein, the
human doctor with whom we shared our premises.
Doctoring is an occupation reserved for humans. Bots are considered
to make terrible doctors for the same reason we make such excellent
dentists: our total lack of empathy. Empathy is so important in a
medical doctor that it is even known by another name: ‘bedside
manner’. Studies have consistently found that humans prefer ‘bedside
manner’ to diagnostic accuracy and treatment efficacy. A sick human
would rather have a fellow human misinform them they can be
cured, than have a bot accurately state that they will soon surely die
a gruesome death!
Some relevant data points about Dr Glundenstein:
He was an excellent doctor by human standards, by which I mean
he compensated for his diagnostic shortcomings with a good bedside
He was not merely a qualified doctor, but also held a minor in
Cinema Studies from East Michigan University.
He enjoyed drinking a Japanese whisky he inexplicably insisted on
He often wished he was not a doctor of humans but a director of
He had a great deal of regret, and also possibly an alcohol
[ Bio ]
Simon Stephenson is a Scottish writer based in Los Angeles. He previously worked as an NHS doctor, most recently in paediatrics in London.
His first book, LET NOT THE WAVES OF THE SEA (John Murrays, 2011), was a memoir about the loss of his brother in the Indian ocean tsunami. It was serialised as ‘Book of the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 and won ‘Best First Book’ at the Scottish Book Awards.
Simon moved to the US followed the success of his spec screenplay, FRISCO, a semi-autobiographical story about a depressed doctor who desperately needed a change. The script was at the top of the Blacklist – an industry-voted list of Hollywood’s favourite unproduced scripts – and opened the door to a screenwriting career in the US. In 2015, Simon was photographed alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’. His friends never tire of telling him that Screen International were at least half right.
As a screenwriter, Simon nonetheless continues to be much in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. He spent two years writing at Pixar in San Francisco, and originated and wrote Amazon’s forthcoming feature film LOUIS WAIN (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy). Julia Roberts attached to his screenplay TRAIN MAN, and the film rights to SET MY HEART TO FIVE were pre-emptively acquired by Working Title Films, Focus Features, and Nira Park’s Complete Fiction Pictures. Edgar Wright is set to direct the film from Simon’s screenplay.
One of Simon’s most memorable moments from his time in Hollywood was taking a meeting with an actor he admired most, and then having said actor kindly insist on driving Simon home in his distinctive vintage Porsche while telling him about his mind-blowing stories about his canonical body of work. As a token of thanks, Simon then gave that car to the villain in Set My Heart To Five!
Twitter ~ @TheSimonBot