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vN by Madeline Ashby
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vN (edition 2012)

by Madeline Ashby

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1872363,175 (3.58)7
Member:devilwrites
Title:vN
Authors:Madeline Ashby
Info:Angry Robot (2012), Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Collections:Shara's Library, Kindle
Rating:***1/2
Tags:madeline ashby, science fiction, kindle, read: ssw

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vN by Madeline Ashby

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
This debut novel by Madeline Ashby asks some interesting questions about what the motivations and desires of humanoid AIs would be, and the surprising answer is remarkably similar to what their human creators seek. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of robo-happiness looks much the same as the familiar goals, with some cosmetic differences in the health & diet departments. Ashby’s von Neumann robots are lot like the vampires making the rounds in a lot of YA fiction these days: Super-powered, beautiful versions of people who happen to eat something unusual, but share all our emotions and dramas. Here, I was a bit disappointed, and saw potential for some wildly interesting outlook that superimposes inarguable machine logic on top of everyday life. The closest thing here was the universally in-built “failsafe” directive that the vN possess which compels them to obey and cherish humans, (their garlic/sunlight/stake/holy water Achilles’ heel). The central conflict of the story arrises from, naturally, the appearance of a vN who can willfully ignore her failsafe. Like many of those YA ‘paranormal romance’ stories, there is a blossoming romance in the works, and an authoritarian regime eager to snuff it all out. The first person perspective brought to mind Charles Stross’ “Saturn’s Children”, which also featured a female humanoid robot protagonist, and a parallel mechanism to the failsafe whereby robots are compelled to obey all humans completely and lovingly. ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Aug 10, 2014 |
In the first chapter, a five-year-old child robot eats her estranged grandmother, python-style, and goes from kindergartner to adult in an instant from the additional biomass.

Good opening, and there are some interesting WTF circumstances (like robots were created to fill out the Earth after the rapture) but the rest stagnates. Once again, it's a book where the robots don't act like robots. They act like people. The only difference is they know they were artificially created. But other than that, they eat, they fall in love, they procreate. You can't tell the difference. The interesting things are just background -- they don't come into play with the plot and don't even make plausible sense in the scheme of the world.

The story is about programming as parenting. The problem is it felt more like a summer blockbuster action piece with chase sequences and romances that don't blossom until the end, and for me, those just don't work in a book format. It was a sludge to get through. It's a promising idea, and it does use some tropes like the existence of smart "gray goo" and robots in/as families in new ways. I can see this appealing to those few who liked A.I. and Brazil. ( )
  theWallflower | Jul 19, 2014 |
A bit unevenly paced but some interesting ideas about power and robot/human interactions. Will definitely pick up the next one [iD] ( )
  SChant | Jul 7, 2014 |
The premise of a book - of having a synthetic being as the protagonist and main character, was certainly intriguing,and what drew my attention in the first place. And it's certainly good to read a scifi book that is not all dystopian/post-apocalyptic.
On the plus side, the book is mostly well written, and easy to get yet with an interesting storyline. The contrast between Amy and Portia is really stark. I wish there was more of Portia. However, in some points, I just had no clear idea what the hell was going on - such as Javier and Amy's visit to the Seattle museum. I just couldn't visualise the scene. Might be something wrong with me.
One thing that felt wrong to me was that despite being technologically advanced enough to have almost-human machines, the rest of the technology of vN's world is pretty much of the present level, which is... weird.
Nevertheless, for the sheer novelty of the concept, it's a book worth a try, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the Machine Dynasty series. ( )
  hoodakaushal | Jun 25, 2014 |
I hope you're hungry because vN will definitely give you a lot to chew on! The main character Amy is a young robot - but not the typical image that likely first pops into your mind of some metal robot. These robots pretty much look just like humans, have skin (though flawless), bleed, eat, etc. They give birth or "iterate" in a similar way that humans do (you'll have to read to find out how). Their offspring are babies and grow as they feed on raw materials, but they look like exact copies of their parent. So since they are born babies they need to eat and grow essentially like we do. They have a fail safe in them to not be able to stand if harm comes to humans.

When I first read the description of vN and saw that cover I knew I had to read it. I mean come on - she eats her own grandmother! If that isn't enough to entice you to read it - Amy practically goes bat shit crazy because of it. Alright, well more like her grandmother was bat shit crazy and is now inside her head constantly trying to take over. It makes for some great action throughout the whole book.

The first few chapters is a nice setup with background info on Amy, her mother and father. Her mother is a vN her father is human. Obviously he isn't a "biological" father but he loves Amy's mother and her. After these short chapters in the beginning the action starts and practically never stops! It was such an interesting book and you get to read from several different points of view. Often when I read a book done that way I feel like you can't see enough of the character progression and growth but this book was so well written that you definitely feel Amy's growth as well as the main supporting character Javier.

The ideas presented in vN are fascinating. Could this be where we are headed? I love thinking about science fiction of any kind and imagining if that kind of technology will really be what we will have in 20, 50, or 100 plus years. All of the struggles that Amy goes through, physical, mental and yes emotional were executed perfectly. Also, the ones you see in Javier. Amy is obviously special so I really liked the fact that you also got to see the progression of Javier since he is more like the typical vN and you can see how they really are people even if they are robots. They think and feel and can want things beyond their built in restrictions.

The tension between Amy and Javier is awesome, as the reader I think you can sense there might be something there and you might even want there to be - but the author builds the relationship so well that it is so much more of a solid and real interaction to me than many other books I've read.

I'm foaming at the mouth to read the next book. Though I know this was the first book in a series it was MOST definitely its own complete story and can in my mind stand on its own legs. I hate when series books are started off and they just leave you with a cliff hanger at the end. This was not the case. I think if you are up for something different definitely give vN a try. It's not a 'light' read but it's got so much action to it and thought provoking juices that you'll rip right through it! ( )
  Pabkins | Jun 24, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Madeline Ashbyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bland, MartinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Caitlin Sweet, who loved Amy first,

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Peter Watts, the Giant Squid who lent me an island when I rebuilt myself
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Jack had lived through this same moment before, with human women.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0857662627, Paperback)

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 she alone can kill humans without failsafing...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:54 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine--a self-replicating humanoid robot. 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 them, Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she's on the run, carrying her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive. She's growing quickly, and learning too. Like the fact that in her, and her alone, the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has stopped working. Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her"--Publisher's description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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