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Twisted Metal (Penrose) Paperback – 18 Jun 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprint edition (18 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330478869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330478861
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 11.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 692,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Written in a deceptively simple style, "Twisted Metal" is not only highly readable, but surprisingly thoughtful." --"Times"

About the Author

Tony Ballantyne lives in Oldham with his wife and two children. He is the author of the Recursion trilogy, as well as many acclaimed short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies around the world. With this, his fourth novel, he begins an exciting new series.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sean on 2 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading the other reviews, I'm slightly puzzled by some of the reasons given to dislike this book. One of the main drivers in the book is the concept that information from robot parents is blended together into their offspring. This 'twisting of the metal' is done without much technical detail and I for one think this is fine (how many readers want to read about meiosis in a standard fantasy novel?; or need a diatribe on comparative genomics / syntenics if the author needs a human/orc hybrid?). I for one would be INTERESTED to hear more about the mechanism but it is not essential for the plot; and I'm happy to believe that there is some element of nanotech/silicon-extrusion engineering to the mechanism of 'twisting metal' (blue is a perhaps a clue that it is not just pure elemental metal being 'twisted'). Many of the complaints in the negative reviews are akin to dismissing the Alien books/films because their weaponised / genetically engineered origin is not spelled out in bioinformatic detail ! Suspending disbelief and filling in the gaps yourself is part of the fun in science fiction and I haven't found too much so far that cannot be imaginatively filled in with a bit of creative licence (after all, who would have believed in miRNA's before they were discovered) - I'm only about 3/4 through so far (seriously restricted private reading time) but I came here looking for a sequel in preparation for finishing..

Throughout the thread of the book there is a clear inorganic/informatics equivalent of Darwinian selection (akin to Dawkins meme selection in some ways). To me this is one of the most intriguing aspects of the plot and reminiscent of 'Code of the Lifemaker' - which I recommend if you liked this book (especially the first chapter which is also available as a short story).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
You never know what you're going to get when you open a book from Tony and the unpredictability is what makes him an interesting read. The book presented here follows the beliefs, times and exploits of a robot civilisation as it undergoes changes due to the warlike state that they've adapted. Its fascinating to see human traits placed upon what many would state is an emotionally sterile environment with no understanding of anything other than the core programming yet the quirks along with the traits of the characters involved really do come across in the tale and allow you the chance to identify and sympathise with the myriad of characters within. If you're looking for a new author to take the mantle in the genre from the old guard you really could do a lot worse than trying Tony's work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sjhigbee on 25 Sep 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a story all about robots, living in a robot world. But before you embark on this novel- know that the grim cover is far closer to the tone and style of this book than any cosy childhood memories you might harbour of Metal Mickey.... Ballantyne has pulled off a nifty trick, here. He has produced a credible world of metal beings who are gendered - the male robots provide the wire that the females can twist and weave into a mind that powers the average robot for somewhere between thirty to forty years. However, females in Artemis no longer take time to think and decide exactly what traits they are going to include into their children's minds - they are indoctrinated into the ethos of Nyros, that all minds are only metal, so each robot's needs and wishes is subordinate to the State. I'm sure this is starting to ring bells amongst the non-robots amongst you. While the action scenes and carnage surround the war are depicted with clarity and power, this book is so much more than a military shoot `em up romp.

As we are pulled into the action through the varying viewpoints of Ballantyne's cast of metal characters, we are confronted with some familiar themes and ideas set in a novel background. It works extremely well in giving a fresh spin on the themes of the rights of the individual, opposed to that of the State... the rise of myths in the need to create stories that make sense of our beginnings and our role within our landscape... the sheer brutality of war.... And if you don't believe that metal creatures who can replace severed limbs with a couple of clicks are able to be tortured, Ballantyne gives a disturbingly visceral plausibility to their ability to inflict all sorts of suffering on each other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Lindley VINE VOICE on 21 Dec 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tony Ballantyne writes high concept SF with some knowing in-jokes thrown in to boot, and I was intrigued to see where he would go with this start to a new trilogy.

The setting, on a world called Penrose (more on that shortly) is one where robots seemingly eveolved spontaneously, and where there is no intelligent organic life. The robots have emotions and male and female genders, and produce children - the male supplying a special metal wire and the female "twisting" it to form a new robotic mind. The mind produced has its characteristics decided by the way the mother performs the twisting, therefore creating a manufactured personality and even belief system.

This is an intruiging idea and Ballantyne uses it to explore concepts such as free will and totalitarianism. There is a considerable degree of action and good characterisation throughout.

There are some knowing in jokes too - in order to be admitted to Turing city, new robots are questioned to see if they are able to think, and the world the intelligent robots live on is named after Roger Penrose, who famously argued that artificial intellgence is impossible.

It is true that the mechanism by which robots become self aware is ignored, and other reviewers have criticised the book because of this. This is irrelevant to the story itself and even if the matter is not addressed in future books, I wonder if the concept of a single strand of metal forming the robots programming is a veiled reference to the archetypal Turing machine - it may be that the "twisting" we see from the robot perspective is not the true cause of intelligence, but the instructions embedded in the metal.

I would thoroughly recommend Twisted Metal and suspect there are many more revelations in store in the books to come.
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