the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Angry Robot Books’ Category

I’m part of the blog tour for Madeline Ashby’s brand new Machine Dynasty novel, iD! Stay tuned for a guest post, and in the meantime, here’s a review.

iD by Madeline Ashby

published June 2013

where I got it: received eARC from the publisher (thanks Angry Robot!)

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Madeline Ashby set out to write a robot story from the robot’s point of view, and hooo boy has she succeeded. Robots don’t have feelings you say? they do if we program them to. Robots can’t feel pain you say?  They do if we program them too. And the robots in  this world are programmed to unconditionally love us, no matter we do to them. Kick a dog enough times and it learns not to come back. Kick a robot, and well, it’ll keep coming back because it’s been programmed to.

Why not just program the robot to protect itself?  Because Ashby is a professional researcher, and made the wise decision to place her story in our world, a world steeped in a history of robot fiction, Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, and all of humanity’s unspoken fears. No worries if you’re not familiar, Ashby gives you just enough background to stay afloat, and keeps back enough information that you’ll be frantically turning the pages, begging for more.

MachineDynastytweet

iD is the second book in Ashby’s Machine Dynasty series. Here’s the ultra quick summary of the world, and how we got there:  A wealthy Megachurch manufactured humanoid robots known as vN to help the humans who will be left behind after the Rapture. The Church goes bankrupt and is forced to sell the patents to other companies who continue to manufacture the Von Neumann (self replicating) robots. The robots are programmed with a failsafe, which keep them from harming people, and directly connect their well being with the well being of the people around them. The vN robots are used for all kinds of things,  everything from dangerous or boring jobs people don’t want to do, to surrogate family members and domestic servants, to the sex trade. When the human is happy, the vN is happy. simple as that.

The vN are not human. They were not born, they do not die, and they are programmed to obey us.

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this is about two weeks worth of book hauling. and goodies in the mail from publishers who I want to give a giant hug to:

Let’s see what we got.  in an attempt to actually read the stuff I acquire, I’ve prioritized these. We’ll see how well I stick to my “rules” after a few months and another book haul. Don’t expect to see reviews instantly, I just this morning got back into town and haven’t started on any of these (just finished Sarah Zettel’s Fool’s War and then picked up Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies for our read along). I’ve also got few library books not mentioned here that I need to eventually get to as well.  Le sigh, the life of a book lover!

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (May 2012) I’ve been a fan of Kim Stanley Robinson since Red Mars. His science fiction is deep, detailed (really, really detailed. Like Neal Stephenson detailed) and realistic feeling. Ok, sure, Antartica was kinda boring, but I appreciated the concept. I am really looking forward to diving into 2312. Priority – high.

The Company Man, by Robert Jackson Bennett – SF Noir? Perhaps some kind of mix of Dark City and Sam Spade? looks good to me! I loved Bennett’s The Troupe, so am excited to read more of his works. By the way, have you seen his recent book trailer? priority – medium

The Mongoliad book one (April 2012) by a multitude of cool people – I’m really not sure what this is. rumors were swirling around the interwebs a few years ago about some kind of subscription where beta-readers could interact with the authors about the story while they were writing it. Woah, totally meta! And Neal Stephenson’s name is on it. I therefore want to read it. Also stars this decade’s favorite historical character, Richard Francis Burton.    priority – high

vN – by Madeline Ashby (July 2012) Looks sort of like the author took Asimov’s three laws of robotics and removed them from our main character android. Also, she’s part human? and the environs are kinda Bladerunner-ish? Sign me up for some of that!!    priority – high

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Mondays suck, don’t they?  Let’s have some fun stuff instead!

If you’ve been following Angry Robot on twitter, or the feeds of plenty of folks in the blogosphere, you know Angry Robot Books has recently made two huge, massive, wonderful announcements: First, they’re starting a YA imprint called  Strange Chemistry. Great news for all you YA fans looking for what Angry Robot tends to specialize in: SF, F, and WTF.  And the second announcement? Even better than the first!  Guess whose heading up the new YA imprint? Again, if you’re active in the SF twittersphere or on heavily trafficked SF blogs, I’ll be you already know her. In fact, you may have already congratulated her. If you haven’t, get your butt over to Floor to Ceiling Books and congratulate the blogosphere’s own Amanda Rutter. She’s shutting her blog down, but you can still catch her on twitter.

Huh, maybe I should have left that for last, since the rest of this post is just random inconsequential fun stuff? ehh, whatevs.

Teh random fun stuff:

I recently picked up Cory Doctorow’s Context from the library. This is a collection of essays he’ written over the last few years on everything from kids and the internet to copyfighting to politics and parenting. Some have appeared on BoingBoing, others in Locus, others in The Guardian, and yet others were articles published on Publishers Weekly while he was self publishing With a Little Help.  There’s a lot of good stuff in this little volume, I’ve been flipping through the pages and reading essays here and there, and all have been informative, well written, and entertaining. If you’re a fan of Doctorow, this is definitely a little book that’s well worth seeking out.

Random item number two, is what should you do if you’re the first human to have contact with aliens?  Appropriate to think about, since I’m slogging through the Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle epic space opera first contact story The Mote in God’s Eye (ok, I should say slogging, but it’s not a fast read. Imagine if 2 seasons of Battlestar Galactica were mashed up with 3 seasons of Deep Space Nine, take out all the romance, and then cram everything that’s left into 500 pages. It’s a lot!).  I think I’ll take this guy’s hilarious and helpful advice.

wanna see some fun artwork?

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World House: Restoration, by Guy Adams

published July 2011

where I got it: rec’d review copy from Angry Robot Books

why I read it: really enjoyed the first book in the series, The World House

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There is a box, and through that box is a house. A house that is often entered through violence. It has the power to change all who enter it, and one who enters it will have the power to change the house.

Picking up right where the first book, The World House left off, World House: Restoration offers action, betrayal, some brilliantly put together time paradoxes and a satisfying conclusion.

As I don’t know how many of you have read the first book, I will try to keep the review for the second book as spoiler free as possible.

In the opening scenes of Restoration, most of our favorite characters from the first book find themselves in the train station of the house.  Some are ready to go kick some ass, others are thankful for some time to rest. The House itself has promised to help them, and Sophie is so busy bonding with the house that she has no idea what’s going on. The trains will take them where they need to go, when they need to be there.  While Miles, Carruthers and Tom  head to Florida hoping to run into Alan at an auspicious place, Penelope and Alan watch over Sophie at the station, leaving  Ashe has the unsavory quest of going back in time to make sure all the pieces end up in their proper places so this game can play out.

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Moxyland, by Lauren Beukes

first published in 2008

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it: I really enjoyed Beukes’ Zoo City

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in a not so distant future, connectivity is everything. Not only does your cell phone connect you to your friends and family (not to mention the internet), but the government and local police use it as a tracking device, and when necessary a punishment device. Disconnectivity by government order can equal a death sentence for some, as your phone is also your public transit pass, your pass to get into work, and your pass to get through certain city checkpoints. It also screams tech-based apartheid. May sound shocking to you and I, But to the youth and 20-somethings of South Africa, they grew up with this – to them it’s completely normal.

ahh, taking technologies and the social order and making their uncomfortable side effects feel normal, that’s just one thing Beukes excels at. All of our characters, Kendra,the art school drop out turned PR guinea pig; Toby, the LARPer  with dreams of taking down the government; Tendeka the children’s charity organizer whose getting sick of losing funding; and Lerato, the programming genius who thinks she knows it all.
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The World House, by Guy Adams

Published in 2011

Where I got it: The library

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On the one side, is the Box.  If you come into contact with the box in a specific situation, you wake up in the house.  

On the other side is the Renegade. The house is his prison, and he’s been planning his escape for a very, very long time.


Almost in the style of a  long prologue, we are quickly introduced to a diverse handful of characters who come into contact with the box, usually in violent circumstances.  Some of them are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, whereas others have been searching for the mysterious, mythical box for years.

As people wake up in different parts of the house, they learn very quickly to adapt or die. For this is a house that isn’t a house. It may have hallways and bedrooms and a library and a kitchen and a library, but the hallways go on forever, the countless bedrooms have never been slept in, the library contains the memories of the universe and the kitchen houses one of the cannibals.  And when the lights go down,  it’s time to find a safe place to hide.  Because this house is alive, and it is hungry.

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The Damned Busters, by Matthew Hughes

Release dates-  US: May 31st 2011, UK May 5th 2011

Where I got it:  Received Review copy from the friendly folks at Angry Robot Books

why I read it:  Interesting premise + totally cool cover art = sign me up.

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Meet Chesney Arnstruther, diagnosed in childhood as a high functioning autistic, his social skills are limited to the occasional game of low stakes poker, reading comic books, ogling over women who jog in the park, and speaking on the phone to his televangelist obsessed Mother, Letitia. Employed at an insurance company, Chesney gets to spend his days doing what he loves: working with numbers. Averages, graphs, predictions, statistics, those are the things that sing in Chesney’s heart.  Logical and practical, he respects his mother’s religious leanings, but Chesney’s personal faith lies in numbers, percentages, and algorithms.

You can get the gist of how things get started by following the genius cover art:  Man stubs hand with hammer in presence of an inadvertent pentagram. Demon is summoned, offers man  his hearts desire in exchange for his soul. Man says “No thanks!”, and before long, all Hell breaks loose. Well, not so much “break loose”, as goes on strike. Yes, the Demons of hell are organized.  And Chesney suddenly finds himself smack dab in the middle of their union negotiations.  He never sold his soul or signed a deal with the Devil, so what are they do with him?  He’s a special case, so he gets a special deal, one named Xaphon.  With the looks, sound, and personality of a prohibition era gangster, the demon Xaphon is Chesney’s to command for two hours out of every 24.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.