The original motivation for the development is both original and rather creepy; they were meant to be helpmates for the people who aren't Raptured in the prophesied Apocalypse of a Christian splinter sect. I thought this was rather cool and also a bit ironic, because the vN were created in our own image, I'd think a Christian splinter sect would find doing this rather blasphemous. But the creation of the vN is only the biggest example of the depth of Ashby's world, but definitely not the only one. Coupled with a writing style that reads super smoothly, the quality of the world building and characterisation create a powerful narrative that's immersive and compelling.
The acquisition of vN must have pleased Angstrom A. Robot , as this book is all about his kind, even if, in the main, they aren't as angry. Madeline Ashby's debut novel blew my mind and I can't imagine where she'll go next. I seem to be on a good streak, because this is another book that is very likely to show up on my end of year lists. If you get a chance, this one is a must-read. This book was provided for review by the publisher.
Sep 14, Andrew rated it really liked it. Amy pinched the skin of her arms. You put some vN shrapnel in the right culture, and it grows right back. Like cancer. With all the memories, and all the adaptations? Never once seeing their faces or hearing their voices or feeling their arms around her would probably hurt a lot less, if she were smashed into a million pieces. With her growth restricted via a specialized, controlled diet, Amy is growing at the rate of a human child, though she is most certainly not human herself.
Like her mother, Amy is a vN, a for the most part socially accepted creation designed, originally, to be a human companion following the Rapture—to befriend those poor, unfortunate souls left behind. It is far more believable than simply falling back on the all-too common trope of artificial intelligence evolving along natural humanistic paths.
Without wanting to beat the Spielberg horse into the ground, vN shares a lot in terms of its emotional journey with the film A. Artificial Intelligence. While A. Similar to A. In doing so, in exhibiting a sort of empathy both wonderful and to be feared, Amy is involved in an incident that pries her from her parents, and simultaneously from her childhood. In many ways, vN is a love letter to science fiction nerds of all kinds. Remember: the cake is a lie… vN feels like the start of something new. Shelves: read-by-heather.
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At least it was for me, you know the woman who loves to watch Star Trek, Doctor Who, and tons of sci-fi movies. But let me tell you a bit more about the book before I give you my complete honest opinion and reaction. First off, vN is short for von Neumann, which is essentially a robot with artificial intelligence. Here is the thing. They were originally created to mimic humans for all sorts of wonderful things. They made models that could be nurses, field workers, really you name it.
Each model was created with a failsafe so that they would never turn on the human population. In fact, seeing a human hurt would cause pain to the vN. That was until the world met Amy. A small vN that her mother had iterated with her human father. They had chosen to raise her slowly, unlike most robots who could complete their growth within a year.
Her parents also chose to raise her around more humans than those of her kind. But they never told her why or more so her mother never told her why. At her kindergarten graduation Amy watched as her grandmother attacked and killed a friend. Without much thought, and an increasing hunger drive, Amy consumed her grandmother. After being caught, Amy meets Javier who was arrested for iterating too many vN. He is tough, head strong, and completely amused at how human this girl seems to be.
When she cries it seems real, not her fail-safe kicking in or her hard drive trying to load the correct response. While on the run he iterates his 13th child, and time after time he wants to leave him behind when they get into a heap of trouble, but Amy refuses. How can someone who is a vN, and ate her own grandmother have such compassion and love? Follow along and find out! Wow… This is my first ever 5 controller review on science fiction. Perhaps it was the stellar writing, or the in-depth story the writer painted.
On the other hand it could just be completely and utterly fascinating. Especially when reading the story with human eyes. I often wonder how the world would react if we had something like vN. Could we find them capable of love and trust? This book does have a lot of darker elements. One in particular is the reason these robots were actually created, and as much as it disgusts me I will share it for anyone sensitive. Essentially they were made, and often used, to satisfy pedophile urges. This was needed to tell the story, and there are no graphic details given, but I felt it needed to be put out there as a forewarning.
There is also mention of death, theft, violence, as well as talk of sex. It is also filled with adventure, suspense, romance, friendship, and the essence of family. All of this because her fail-safe failed… read it folks, just read it! Sep 10, Shaheen rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Reminiscent of Asimov but entirely new in the way it handles the idea of intelligent, artificial life, vN explores the lives future synthetic beings can expect to live. And like Asimov, Ashby shows us how terrible this fate can be. Her jail-break with Javier causes country wide unrest, and all vN of her model are recalled for quarantine until tests can be administrated.
Amy is a refreshingly original character whom I instantly liked. I also liked Javier, even though he is so different and honestly, scared me a little because of his otherness. Until I met Javier I was reading Amy as a normal vN, perhaps with a few more human tendencies than most vN because of her upbringing and family life. But Ashby cleverly uses Javier, a vN who has never lived with humans, to show readers how unique and special Amy really is.
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One of the most poignant scenes is when Amy realises that vN who malfunction are thrown into the garbage, after coming across lots of newly iterated vN who malfunctioned in a dump. She exclaims that human children who died soon after birth would never be thrown into the garbage, and Javier replies of course not, but is perplexed why Amy is so moved by the discovery.
I love the world-building, because it comes with a history that I found terrifyingly viable: vN were created by churches who thought the Rapture was coming, and wanted to leave behind companions and help-mates for those humans who were left behind on earth. When no Rapture came, vN were used for menial labour, either cheaply or for free, and are now maids, mistresses, and labourers.
Some humans use them for other purposes however, and pedophilia pops up peripherally in the story. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review. You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic. Sep 08, Kat Hooper rated it it was ok Shelves: audiobook. Now Amy is on the run and there are lots of people who want to get their hands on her for different reasons. They created the humanoid robots as companions and helpers and built in a failsafe that prevents them from harming humans.
In fact, the failsafe makes the vN love all humans and causes them to shut down when they see blood or violence. And she needs to get Granny out of her head! I give Madeline Ashby credit for creativity. Her story riffs off and has allusions to Philip K. Though I loved the ideas Madeline Ashby presents, I had a hard time getting through the latter half of vN. Jul 09, Ken rated it liked it Shelves: science-fiction , cyborg , androids. The short story provides a good foundation to the world of vN and I highly recommend you to read it before the book as it gives you a better insight into the character of Javier.
Like the androids in Spielberg's A. Some people truly love them and marry them whereas others use them as no strings attached sex toys. Due to the built in failsafe control, the vNs can't help but love their human masters and will obey any given command even if it puts them at risk. Instead of another modern day interpretation of Pinocchio's tale, the book explores what would happen if vNs can overcome the restrictions that they were created with and how society reacts once it learns that the machines can hurt humans. Ashby describes a world where intelligent, almost human like androids are treated as third class citizens who live and die by their masters' commands.
There are times you pity the vNs and wonder why no one has demanded greater rights for them. Throughout Amy's adventure with Javier we see the contrast between a vN with functioning failsafe control and one without. The failsafe not only affect their behaviour but also their entire outlook and the story uses this to offer a fascinating look into the issue of self-identity. In the case of Javier, it explains why he abandons his young as soon as he's able to and his reluctance to relate to other beings.
The writing, especially the parts surrounding the growth of Amy is excellent. We see the once naive and innocent Amy adapting to the world as circumstances force her to part with her parents and escape from the authorities. However there are a couple of times in the book where the scene suddenly jumps and I have to go back to check if I have not missed anything.
Despite the slightly awkward transitions in the book, Ashby's writing is still promising and I look forward to the sequel. Oct 12, Mikki Crisostomo rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-i-would-die-for , favorites , reviewed , adventure , sci-fi. Impossible to put down. It's been ages since I've picked up an honest-to-goodness sci-fi book with actual robots in it, and this is a sweet and clever return. It's amazingly heartfelt, for a story about artificial human beings, but it never moralizes and makes you feel like you just sat through a Sunday school lesson about humanity.
In an age where robotics have Impossible to put down. In an age where robotics have advanced into eerie realism, Amy is a robot who crosses the line when she discovers that the failsafe that prevents all robots from even witnessing human beings being harmed is broken in her. After a series of shocking events I literally gasped at several points , she is forced to go on the run and meets up with Javier, another robot whose failsafe works just fine. And while some more attention may be given to robotic cannibalism and giant robot leviathans, I really loved the foil that Javier was to Amy.
He presented a stark comparison to her increasingly human personality and an important turning point when he overrode his own programming to stay with her. And his sons are hilarious. Generally I prefer my sci-fi on the screen, because the genre is ripe for sweeping cityscapes and amazing technological cinema magic, but this book looks right into the heart of the question of sentience and what it means to become human.
That said, vN would make an awesome movie I would pay to see, because there is plenty of action and futuristic shenanigans in the story that would rock the theaters. Originally, I groaned to see that this was just the first of a series, but now I'm looking forward to returning to Amy's world and seeing the evolution of her and Javier's humanity. Aug 03, Lex rated it it was ok Shelves: science-fiction , fantasy. I really don't know what to say about this book.
It's not that I don't like it but I don't love it either. Somewhere in between that. I guess, it's an okay book for me. As I have mentioned before, I'm a Computer Engineering graduate but still some of the words are lost to me and swallowing me whole.
I don't even remember completely the scenes that happened. It's like a wind that just run past me, I think. It's really a weird book with all the eating your granny and then there's the weird wa Um It's really a weird book with all the eating your granny and then there's the weird way the vN iterates. I mean, even the male vNs are iterating like the women. It's sooooooo weird cause I imagined Javier as a really big ugly old guy and I can't help but think that he and Amy would get it ON, you know what I mean? And in all honesty, I didn't fully comprehend the story or it's just me being slow again.
Cause there's no cliffhanger in the end and I believe it could really just stand alone. There's no need for a second or third book. And I actually thought that the second book would be about Amy and her time in Mecha. So what the hell is that island doing? This book also has a lot of cussing words so better be prepared young readers and that pedophile thingy. I tried to really like it. I'm sorry. But well, my fault for reminding the girls and JP to read it. Kiddin' aside, please don't ask me detailed by detailed about this book.
Cause seriously, I don't know what I'll say. Aug 09, Amy rated it it was ok Shelves: science-fiction. I admit it: this low rating is mostly due to reader failure. I'm just not a science-fiction person, when it comes right down to it. Ashby does a great job describing the world and the science--I was never lost, could easily imagine everything, and the laws and rules of her world make sense.
It's sci-fi, but not crazy hard sci-fi. That said, the most problematic issu I admit it: this low rating is mostly due to reader failure. That said, the most problematic issue for me was that, overall, I couldn't shake the feeling that much of the action was trying too hard to shock me. Instead of feeling intrigued or even repulsed, I simply wanted to get through the gross stuff, past the absurdity and return to the actual story. The novel brings up several really intriguing cyberpunkian questions of morality and creation, but because it spent so much time saying "See?
They're robots. Also cannibals," I ended up not really caring about the characters. Does this mean Ashby proved her point that humans will continue to use and consume despite our best intentions, that we're programmed to objectify? But the other danger is in underestimating my ability to be a complex machine, too. May 31, Allison rated it really liked it. Welp, the cat just deleted the paragraph I had written, but basically, a very well-done novel about a future with both humans and humanoid robots that can self-replicate. For example, the von Neumann androids that form the backbone of the narrative were originally created by a religious cult and are all programmed to care for humans in need, leading them to us Welp, the cat just deleted the paragraph I had written, but basically, a very well-done novel about a future with both humans and humanoid robots that can self-replicate.
For example, the von Neumann androids that form the backbone of the narrative were originally created by a religious cult and are all programmed to care for humans in need, leading them to usually being unable to harm them and to want to administer first aid. Apr 24, Kededra rated it it was ok.
I'm bouncing between 2 and 3 stars. The author did an excellent job of building a world that readers could visualize and the story itself was interesting. However, the story gets bogged down by all the technical jargon. I wouldn't recommend it to those that don't have the slightest interest in sci-fi. It wasn't when the idea was introduced of a girl who was starved in order to imitate the process of a growing human child. Or even when she met a pedophile who did this to his "wife.
As though you should enjoy feeling so hungry and hollow all the time. I see what you did there, Ms. I began it with the intention that it would simply be about their relationship, but quickly found that it was impossible to talk about robots without talking about the many implications of their existence and sentience. What does it mean when creatures are made specifically to be in servitude to others? It's one thing to imagine them as so powerful, so intelligent that they fight violently for their freedom. But what does it mean for them to really be free? Ashby gives you access to the information long before it comes into full form in Amy's mind.
When she meets the pedophile, he expresses his gratitude for his prepubescent humanoid robots for if he did not have them, he might hurt "real" children. But his wife and his daughter are real. Amy is real. The fact that her diet starved her to the point that she ate her grandmother is proof of that.
Ashby uses the politics of the robot body to reflect what's happening to bodies here and now. Real freedom is the ability to say no. So you should know that this is no gimmicky dystopia. You're in good hands here. Ashby factors in not only technological innovations, but the progress of language and culture. There is thought given to fandom behavior, and social justice thinking.
Ashby is keyed in to what is going on in the past, present and future. Nonetheless, as natural so the futuristic elements of this book are, there is still a bit of the fantastical, the most of which are the vNs themselves. They grow, they eat, they give birth. I think the only organic thing they don't simulate is shitting.
And yet, they are machines, but more than that they are separate species that has their own way of existing, their own values. Even though they are built with a failsafe that makes them inherently love and desire humans, Ashby makes it clear that they are not human. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.
A lot books these days are exploring non-human characters, but few are really taking the time to create a new point of view, one that is familiar but decidedly alien at the same time. The line blurs, of course, with our protagonist, Amy. Her failsafe is broken, and that makes her capable of great and terrible things. I've mentioned before this ongoing trend in books of young girls who are afraid of themselves. In this case though, it's not a controversial supernatural ability, or a bad temper.
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Amy literally has another person in her, one that could easily take control and wreak an extraordinary amount of havoc. Her fear of the violence she is capable of is real, because even though her programming doesn't automatically endear her to humans, she is a good person who doesn't want to do harm.
She's real, even if she's not human. There's a lot of action and drama, but Amy meanders as she struggles to find her place in the world, having been driven away from her picture perfect life. I didn't mind, because each page revealed a little bit more about this world and these creatures and I found it all endlessly fascinating. Javier is probably one of my favorite love interests I've read.
His casual and sardonic demeanor doesn't present him as such right away. But slowly Amy chips away at his walls and reveals someone who is considerate and faithful. Their best moments are the ones when you remember that by human terms they're still children. They have tickle fights. They play in a sandbox. They keep building, hoping that eventually they'll have a place that'll be their own. I love this book. I could talk about it for days and the more I think about it the more I want to say.
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Mar 10, Amanda rated it really liked it Shelves: series , scifi , arc , ai. I am pleased to say that this book gets it mostly right.
The first thing that made me know this is a smart book is the source of the robots called Von Neumanns after their creator. The characters, including the robots, are three-dimensional. Everyone has complex motivations and the main characters definitely grow and progress with time. Yoga Woman. Person Who's Super Optimistic.
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