Up for Review: Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

I love the title of this novel, although I kind of hope it doesn’t have anything to do with Walter Benjamin’s essay, because I tried to read that once and didn’t get very far (and if it does, I’ll feel obliged to try again). It also reminds me a wee bit of The Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby, with its focus on intimate relationships between humans and androids. Continue reading

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iD by Madeline Ashby

Please note: this review contains spoilers for vN (The Machine Dynasty #1). It’s essential to start there, and I highly recommend checking this series out. If you haven’t you can read my review of vN here.

At the end of vN, Amy defeated her grandmother Portia by raising the body of a massive group of vN beneath the ocean. Their combined processing power has given her god-like powers which she has since used to design and create her own island – a customised vN paradise where Amy has paid close attention to even the tiniest details, like the timing of the breeze and the width of the tree branches.

Amy’s immense power allows her to watch over everyone, and she has built strong trade relationships to help her island flourish. She and Javier – whose POV we follow for this story – are enjoying a peaceful, idyllic existence with Javier’s iterations and a growing vN population. Their only major problem is sex – Javier wants it, but Amy refuses him because, with his failsafe, she’s not sure if he can choose to have sex with her or if he’s just programmed to. Having seen how humans exploit vN, she’s afraid of doing the same to him, but the issue is causing a lot of tension between them.

But obviously their wonderful life won’t last long anyway. Amy already terrifies humanity because she doesn’t have a failsafe and isn’t forced to adore and protect humans. Now she’s probably the most powerful being on the planet, but without any concern for her creators. Then when she takes drastic measures to protect the island from a high-tech intruder, Javier also becomes deeply concerned about the power she wields because she holds power over other vN too. Continue reading

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Madeline Ashby Guest Post: Human/AI relationships

When Angry Robot contacted bloggers about a blog tour for Madeline Ashby’s latest novel, iD, I immediately replied. I thought her first novel, vN, was pretty awesome. I jumped at the chance to read iD, the second book in The Machine Dynasty series, adn that review will go up next week.

In the meantime, I asked Madeline to write a guest post about the relationship between humanity and AI, as this is the core of The Machine Dynasty. The vN are self-replicating humanoid robots who were initially created to be servants and sexbots to the poor souls who would be left on Earth after the Rapture (which obviously never happened). Now they’re trying to integrate with human society, but are hampered by their failsafes, which not only prevent them from harming humans but force them to love humans and try to make them happy. And what kind of relationship can you have with someone to whom you can never say no? Someone who could do anything they wanted to you, because you’re not a ‘real’ person? And as a human, what possibilities does a vN represent to you?

Thank you very much Madeline, for writing on this topic for Violin in a Void. She offers ideas that not only shed light on her books, but on our potential relationships with any AI we might create, and the way we often treat each other like machines.
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Up for Review: iD

Last year, I was very impressed with Madeline Ashby’s debut novel, vN, about artificially intelligent robots that had initially been created for sexual purposes, but are now struggling to integrate with human society as people. It offered a lot of ideas about free will, the ‘reality’ of emotion, and the possibilities of AI in human society, with lots of interesting motivations at play between the characters.

vN was the first novel in The Machine Dynasty series, and one of the few novels that had me looking forward to its sequel. Now I have it. Continue reading

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Review of vN by Madeline Ashby

I first started reading it a few months ago, just before and during a trip to SA. I was distracted by travel stuff, and found the novel disappointing. It didn’t seem nearly as exciting or interesting as the many rave reviews suggested, and put it aside at the halfway point. I gave it another shot a few weeks ago, giving it my full attention this time, and was rewarded with an excellent, well-paced story about AI and all the issues surrounding their creation and existence in human society. Continue reading

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