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vN: The First Machine Dynastyby Madeline Ashby
Religion turns to science to provide for those left behind in the coming end times, resulting in self-replicating humanoids for humanity's use. Set in a near-future Pacific Northwest sparsely populated after an enormous earthquake, this robot family drama follows the growing pains of Amy and her psychotic clade-type of Stepford wives. Artificial Intelligence and its evolution — and mankind's relationship to it — is explored in this fast-paced adventure. A visit to the Virtual Reality Museum of Seattle's Pike Place Market is one of the more interesting stops during Amy's escape from bounty hunters and the government.
Synopses & Reviews
Amy Peterson is a self-replicating humanoid robot known as a VonNeumann.
For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother's past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.
Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she's learning impossible things about her clade's history — like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed.... Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.
"Self-replicating vN (von Neumann) humanoids face unique dilemmas in debut novelist Ashby's robot family drama. Amy, the synthetic daughter of a mixed human/synthetic couple, is surprised at kindergarten graduation by her mother's mother, Portia, who kills a human child despite her embedded fail-safe. Amy, who has been starved to keep her development human-paced, devours Portia and immediately grows to adult size. Hunted as a fugitive, she must also contend with a copy of Portia still running in her thoughts. Amy dodges bounty hunters with Javier, another fugitive synthetic with family problems (he's a serial reproducer who abandons fast-grown offspring), and seeks to free her jailed parents and reach the legendary humanoid sanctuary of Mecha. Ashby manages to create real sympathy for her synthetics, but fails to detail her near-future landscape (a Pacific Northwest depopulated by an enormous earthquake) with enough distractions to cover the paucity of human characters. Agent: Monica Pacheco, Anne McDermid Associates." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Picks up where Blade Runner left off and maps territories Ridley Scott barely even glimpsed. (Philip K Dick would have been at home here, but Ashby's prose is better.) vN might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws." Peter Watts, author of Blindsight
"vN did not disappoint. It is a fantastic adventure story that carries a sly philosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. It is often profound, and it is never boring." Cory Doctorow
“If you have been missing the kind of thought-provoking-yet-exciting stories about artificial creatures that only come along once in a while, vN is well worth grabbing. It's disturbing and sometimes upsetting — but the ending is a giant insane weird thrill that makes the whole thing pay off.” Charlie Jane Andres for io9.com
"VN fuses cyberpunk with urban fantasy to produce something wholly new. There's a heavy kicker in every chapter. Zombie robots, vampire robots, robots as strange and gnarly as human beings. A page-turning treat." Rudy Rucker, author of the Ware Tetralogy
About the Author
Madeline Ashby grew up in a household populated by science fiction fans. She graduated from a Jesuit university in 2005, after having written a departmental honors thesis on science fiction. After meeting Ursula K. LeGuin in the basement of the Elliott Bay Book Company that year, she decided to start writing science fiction stories. She has been published in Tesseracts, Flurb, Nature, Escape Pod and elsewhere. Currently, she works as a strategic foresight consultant in Toronto.
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