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vN: The First Machine Dynasty (The Machine Dynasty Book 1) by [Ashby, Madeline]
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vN: The First Machine Dynasty (The Machine Dynasty Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in The Machine Dynasty (2 Book Series)

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Length: 416 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"Picks up where "Blade Runner" left off and maps territories Ridley Scott barely even glimpsed. (Philip K Dick would have been at home here, but Ashby's prose is better.) "vN" might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws."" -" Peter Watts, author of "Blindsight"

""vN" did not disappoint. It is a fantastic adventure story that carries a sly philosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. It is often profound, and it is never boring."
- Cory Doctorow
"If you have been missing the kind of thought-provoking-yet-exciting stories about artificial creatures that only come along once in a while, "vN" is well worth grabbing. It's disturbing and sometimes upsetting -- but the ending is a giant insane weird thrill that makes the whole thing pay off."
--Charlie Jane Andres for io9.com
"Picks up where "Blade Runner" left off and maps territories Ridley Scott barely even glimpsed. (Philip K Dick would have been at home here, but Ashby's prose is better.) "vN" might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws.""
-" Peter Watts, author of "Blindsight"
"VN fuses cyberpunk with urban fantasy to produce something wholly new. Thre's a heavy kicker in every chapter. Zombie robots, vampire robots, robots as strange and gnarly as human beings. A page-turning treat."- Rudy Rucker, author of the WARE TETRALOGY
"Ashby's debut novel is brimming with ideas..."
-SFX Magazine

""vN" is a thrilling adventure story with a well-developed cast of both humans and vNs, which challenges the meaning of being a person without ever being preachy about it."
-Steve Jones, Terror Tree

""vN" did not disappoint. It isa fantastic adventure story that carries a slyphilosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. Itis often profound, and it is never boring."
- Cory Doctorow
If you have been missing the kind of thought-provoking-yet-exciting stories about artificial creatures that only come along once in a while, "vN" is well worth grabbing. It's disturbing and sometimes upsetting but the ending is a giant insane weird thrill that makes the whole thing pay off.
Charlie Jane Andres for io9.com
"Picks up where "Blade Runner" left off and maps territories Ridley Scott barely even glimpsed. (Philip K Dick would have been at home here, but Ashby's prose is better.) "vN" might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws.""
" Peter Watts, author of "Blindsight"
"VN fuses cyberpunk with urban fantasy to produce something wholly new. Thre's a heavy kicker in every chapter. Zombie robots, vampire robots, robots as strange and gnarly as human beings. A page-turning treat."- Rudy Rucker, author of the WARE TETRALOGY
"Ashby's debut novel is brimming with ideas..."
-SFX Magazine
"vN"is a thrilling adventure story with a well-developed cast of both humans and vNs, which challenges the meaning of being a person without ever being preachy about it.
-Steve Jones, Terror Tree"

"vN did not disappoint. It isa fantastic adventure story that carries a slyphilosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. Itis often profound, and it is never boring."
- Cory Doctorow
If you have been missing the kind of thought-provoking-yet-exciting stories about artificial creatures that only come along once in a while, vN is well worth grabbing. It's disturbing and sometimes upsetting but the ending is a giant insane weird thrill that makes the whole thing pay off.
Charlie Jane Andres for io9.com
"Picks up where Blade Runner left off and maps territories Ridley Scott barely even glimpsed. (Philip K Dick would have been at home here, but Ashby's prose is better.) vN might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws."
Peter Watts, author of Blindsight
"VN fuses cyberpunk with urban fantasy to produce something wholly new. Thre's a heavy kicker in every chapter. Zombie robots, vampire robots, robots as strange and gnarly as human beings. A page-turning treat."- Rudy Rucker, author of the WARE TETRALOGY
"Ashby's debut novel is brimming with ideas..."
-SFX Magazine
vNis a thrilling adventure story with a well-developed cast of both humans and vNs, which challenges the meaning of being a person without ever being preachy about it.
-Steve Jones, Terror Tree"

"vN did not disappoint. It is a fantastic adventure story that carries a sly philosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. It is often profound, and it is never boring."
- Cory Doctorow
"If you have been missing the kind of thought-provoking-yet-exciting stories about artificial creatures that only come along once in a while, vN is well worth grabbing. It's disturbing and sometimes upsetting -- but the ending is a giant insane weird thrill that makes the whole thing pay off."
--Charlie Jane Andres for io9.com
"Picks up where Blade Runner left off and maps territories Ridley Scott barely even glimpsed. (Philip K Dick would have been at home here, but Ashby's prose is better.) vN might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws."
-
Peter Watts, author of Blindsight
"VN fuses cyberpunk with urban fantasy to produce something wholly new. Thre's a heavy kicker in every chapter. Zombie robots, vampire robots, robots as strange and gnarly as human beings. A page-turning treat."- Rudy Rucker, author of the WARE TETRALOGY
"Ashby's debut novel is brimming with ideas..."
-SFX Magazine
"vN is a thrilling adventure story with a well-developed cast of both humans and vNs, which challenges the meaning of being a person without ever being preachy about it."
-Steve Jones, Terror Tree

About the Author

After meeting Ursula K. LeGuin in the basement of the Elliott Bay Book Company, Madeline Ashby decided to start writing science fiction stories. While immigrating to Canada from the United States in 2006, she could not work or study and joined the Cecil Street Irregulars - a genre writers' workshop founded by Judith Merril - instead. Since then she has been published in Tesseracts, Flurb, Nature, Escape Pod and elsewhere. She has a master's degree in Manga and Anime and writes on such matters for i09, Tor.com and BoingBoing. Currently she works as a strategic foresight consultant in Toronto.
www.madelineashby.com
twitter.com/MadelineAshby
Author hometown: Toronto

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 752 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Angry Robot; 1 edition (29 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008QZ1BHC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #188,345 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have had vN on my reading pile for a few months now, and decided to finally crack it open after a good run so far of reading and being wonderfully surprised by Angry Robot's publishing choices. I'd heard good things, and was hoping for more of them. I got ... some of those good things. I prefer my glass half full. That said, I was a bit underwhelmed by the overall result, as I will attempt to explain...

First, the good points. I was fascinated by Ashby's creations, the vNs themselves. The idea of self-replicating androids seemed like an interesting, slightly creepy take on robots. It is interesting - and also creepy, but mostly interesting. Amy Peterson's take on the world, and on herself and others like her, was a convincing mix of human, thanks to her upbringing, and not entirely human (because, y'know, robot). The presence of Portia, her 'malfunctioning' hard-line grandmother, provides most of the creep factor I mentioned, and helps to throw Amy's innocence into clearer relief. Likewise, her friendship with Javier, another vN who is driven to iterate (self-replicate) as often as possible, provides an intriguing relationship as Amy goes on the run.

All of these things were interesting, but to raise my main point against the book, they were only interesting. They didn't leap off the page and seize me by the imagination; there was no moment while reading this book that I got lost in the story, unable or unwilling to put it down. After some thought, I suspect this is due to how difficult I found it to really connect with Amy as a character - or, as is probably fairer to say, as a relatable human character. If I'm being honest I found Javier more realised, more engaging, than I found Amy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't know what to make of this book. It was ok I guess, Vague it parts, not so much in others. For example in one part of the story the male hero resuces the female hero. Both have been captured and just in the nick of time he is there to rescue her, but there is no explaination as to how he was planning on escaping, or how he does it during his escape, or even how he did it after the scene had past. All you got was he is suddenly there, made the rescue and the story moves on. It felt like the author had an idea and couldn't get the words down fast enough, so much so that she left bits out.
This is a constant theme through out the book. The discription of the areas they were in were lacking, and disjointed, for example, a scene would open explaining they where in a large building, as they traveled through the building you felt like you had missed a page or two as the scene changed. They had arrived at the building, no description of them entering it, but they suddenly on a bridge then the next thing they are in the ocean. What happened to the building? where did the bridge come from?
On the plus side I loved Amy, Javier, and Junior, Grandma was totaly nasty and you really wanted to see her get her come-uppance. It had its sad points and its exciting points. Over all I gave this book three stars maily due to its vagueness, and waiting for something to happen.
I will probably read the next book with a view of hoping that it is a better book
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Format: Kindle Edition
vN: The First Machine Dynasty
Author: Madeline Ashby
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count/size: 332pp
Release Date: 29 July 2012
Reviewer: Steve Jones

vNs are humanoid robots created by a religious sect to be companions for the unfortunate humans left behind after The Rapture which never happened. When the cult collapses in a storm of abuse allegations the vNs are left to survive in a mostly uncaring world. vN is derived from von Neumann machine as they can reproduce by iteration, which leads to a generational divide as each iteration is supposedly better than its predecessor. A "failsafe" disables vNs if they are violent to humans or even see a human get hurt.

Amy is the sole iteration of Charlotte who lives with her human husband Jack. Amy is kept small by her parents restricting her diet so that she grows at the same rate as organic children. This leaves Amy permanently hungry so, when her grandmother Portia attacks the school she attends and kills a human child, Amy kills Portia by eating her alive. This rouses human suspicions that the failsafe has been disabled in her entire clade of vNs. She is taken away in a big white van (labelled "Isaac's Electronics"!) and escapes with Javier, a serial iterator (he constantly creates and abandons immature vNs).

This book takes a different take on the development of robots from the usual "Destroy all humans" and "Become more human" cliches where the robots are just a reflection of our own fears and desires. Jack's attempts to raise Amy as a human child turn out to be well-meaning but seriously misguided. The vNs need to find their own answers to getting along with humans and their own kind.

There are a few flaws.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amy is a robot. Amy eats grandmother. Nice touch.

Amy goes on the run. Amy gets attacked. Amy fights back. Amy gets captured. Amy gets rescued. Loop.

That's somewhat unfair of me, but at one level, that's mostly what happens. She regenerates after injury, which happens a lot. She acquires traits of other robots she eats. She ought to be invincible, and sometimes, when it suits the plot, she is. Other times, she's inexplicably weak, gets captured. Whenever she's about to be eaten, Javier rescues her, even if he appears to have abandoned her / been captured himself. No explanation, just rabbits popping out of hats.

At another level, there's the concept of the self-replicating robot, the failsafe (aka Asimov's 3 laws), the dual vN-human culture, some interesting world building.

In the end, I never built up much sympathy for Amy. For all her power, she is tossed about by events, and reacts rather than initiates. The last 40 pages were a high speed dash for the finish.
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