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Twisted Metal (Penrose) [Paperback]

Tony Ballantyne
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: £6.99
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Book Description

18 Jun 2010 Penrose (Book 1)

On a world of intelligent robots who seem to have forgotten their own distant past, it is a time of war as the soldiers of Artemis City set out to conquer everything within range on the continent of Shull, killing or converting every robot they capture to their philosophy, while viewing their own wire-based minds as nothing but metal to be used or recycled for the cause.

Elsewhere, the more individualistic robots of Turing City believe they are something more than metal, but when the Artemisian robot Kavan sets out on a determined crusade to prove himself, even Turing City can’t stand against him. Increasingly tied up with Kavan’s destiny is Karel, a Turing robot with elements of Artemis’s philosophy already woven into his mind … as well as Karel’s wife Susan, and their recently created child..

Following the inevitable violence and destruction, Artemisian ambition focuses elsewhere and a journey begins towards the frozen kingdoms of the north … and towards the truth about the legendary ‘Book of Robots’, a text which may finally explain the real history of this strange world …

In a completely alien but brilliantly realized landscape, here is a powerful story of superb action, barbaric cruelty and intense emotional impact.

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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: 18 x 11 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 568,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robot natural selection 2 Aug 2010
By Sean
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Robots with feelings 1 May 2009
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing cosy about these robots... 25 Sep 2011
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
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts off well - but becomes boring...
I made the usual mistake here; I purchased the sequel `Blood And Iron' unwittingly, and so I then had to buy this, the first book. They were a waste of money... Read more
Published 3 months ago by FAMOUS NAME
5.0 out of 5 stars A continued good read
Amazingly this novel worked well despite being in many respects quite simliar to the first book. I would still have liked the book of robots to be explained a bit more... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. Mark A. Laborda
2.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't take the gender sterotyping
I wanted to like this book, I really did. The premise was great, the blurb intriguing and it was chock full of robots. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Dr. Amanda Kear
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it!
Excellent book well worth reading if you like sci-fi and fantasy, fairly short but that may just be me, overall a good book and I will be purchasing the sequel
Published 18 months ago by Icerat
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book
I very much enjoyed this book as I have all his other books. I like the idea behind the series and look forward to following the central characters through the series. Read more
Published on 23 April 2012 by Spange
5.0 out of 5 stars Original Concept
This is the first book of Tony Ballantynes that I have read. Such an original concept and well executed. Read more
Published on 7 May 2011 by MZ Rider
4.0 out of 5 stars Mature and intelligent start to robot saga
Set on a world of advanced robotic civilisation, Twisted Metal starts with two robots making love and working to conceive a child. Read more
Published on 9 Dec 2010 by Bāki
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously imaginative sci-fi
A lot of what's being said in the negative reviews is based on two things: the concept at the heart of this book and the way that characters are used to explore this concept. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2010 by tenshi no hone
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
One good idea stretched for 300 pages,
and a menacing trilogy ahead...
One is enough!
An ecology based only on silicon... ok,
Robots with feelings... Read more
Published on 20 Feb 2010 by Antonio Donini
1.0 out of 5 stars Ballantyne can write, but this is disappointing
If you have previously read a TOny Ballantyne novel, then you will be as disappointed as I was. This is nothing like the sparse, focused text of "Capacity" or "Recursion". Read more
Published on 25 Jan 2010 by Jeremy Ward
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