In the future, robots like Mars and Cromwell serve their human masters. Having long since replaced humans in the back hallways and servants' quarters of the ultra-wealthy, new models are acquired, render their service, then are quietly deactivated when obsolete. But then we gave them the ability to learn. One household is about to find out that, while Asimov's laws are immutable, humans are about to experience an uprising of a different sort. This first, surprisingly heartfelt episode of a new series puts the listener in the shoes of the the soulless who serve.
©2013 Sean Platt (P)2014 Sean Platt
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The future, according to Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, will bring robot servants to run entire households, replacing maids, butlers, chefs, gardeners, and all other house help. The number of robots and modernity of them will determine how high up in the world a family is. And robots can think for themselves, solely so that they can realize and fulfill the family’s needs before they are asked to. Doesn’t sound much like Terminator, does it? Well it isn’t. The robots of the Lexington family only realize they’ve each begun to develop their own consciousness when the family wants to deactivate one of the older robots – and the majority of the “staff” have feelings about it.
Robot Proletariat is a brilliant combination of suspense, the positives and corresponding pitfalls of technological advancements, humor, and (robot) growing pains. The humor particularly impressed me because it was reminiscent, at times, of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a book that’s a mix of dry and absurd humor I haven’t found duplicated anywhere. I connected to the robots more than the people, something the authors did on purpose to bring out the exact opposite nature of this book from something like Terminator. I also really enjoyed the motif of robots being all-intelligent and yet not quite grasping abstract things like philosophy or human things like sex. Like I said, brilliant.
This book also happens to be very timely in ways I unfortunately can’t specify because they would give too much away. However, let’s just say fear of death, self-preservation, and loyalty all combine in Robot Proletariat in unexpected but strictly logical ways, as befit robots.
The voice talent, Simon Whistler, was perfect for the type of humor involved. He does surprisingly good robot impressions and captures each character very well. You can always tell which character is talking as he has clear distinctions between them all. His German accent for Mars the robot isn’t bad either. Some of his voice inflections were a bit overly repetitive and not varied enough, I did notice that, but it wasn’t too bothersome. Overall, I ended up really liking his narration and feeling that no one else could have done it better.
Robot Proletariat is the first in a series that I can’t wait to continue. I hope the next book comes out soon – I don’t know how long I can wait until there’s a resolution to the jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end!
Audiobook provided for review by the author.
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I love character-driven science fiction stories -- the ones that make you think, and wonder, and feel. Stories that take me to a different time, place, or world have always fascinated me, and the premise of the story was something I couldn't wait to get my hands on.
As my first foray into audiobooks, Robot Proletariat exceeded all my expectations. The story itself has always caught my eye -- I am a softie for any type of "class struggle" story, because of my family history, and the use of humanoid robots has always been a plot point that I've enjoyed. There's an automatic sympathy for the underdogs, especially when you pit them against those who have always been in the lap of luxury and don't know how good they have it, and I found the entire concept took on an interesting perspective when the underdogs were robots rather than humans. It brought up some very interesting questions and triggered philosophical discussions in my head with regards to the rights for something that's been created, and how much/how many. If robots are to be given rights and treated as fellow humans -- despite being programmed to serve, and to not really have feelings per se -- then do we also extend those rights to other robotic, albeit less humanoid, machines? Where is the line, and who gets to decide? Will we humans always have problems with hierarchical, class-based societies? Are we destined to always be prey to our own ego?
The story itself is a lovely, lyrical romp that brings to my mind the ballrooms of the 18th and 19th century -- the aristocratic atmosphere, the high-falutin air put on by certain characters (robots included!), and the general pomp and circumstance all bring Regency England to mind. But with robots, which makes it decidedly cooler. And speaking of the robots, there is a fine line in making them so sympathetic as to just simply be humans with shiny skin, or not human enough and they don't seem to 'click' ... and I can happily report that Robot Proletariat manages somehow to walk that line very well indeed. While the robots seem human, I still know they're robots, which is an important part of why the story works for me. If they'd just been yet another shade of human, I think the story would have been less compelling.
I have a soft spot for Mars because of the way he seems to always look out for the other robots. He's like that gruff, huffy great-uncle who's always taking a swig of alcohol out of the flask in his combat jacket, his great mustache twitching, giving off a forbidding air -- but you know that he's just one giant teddy bear who could tell you the best stories of his lifetime adventures and is always looking out for you.
I listen to Simon Whistler's podcast and have always found his voice to be soothing, and it was perfectly suited to a book such as this. His accent was a perfect fit, and I enjoyed how he tried to be as distinct as possible with regards to the robots.
I greatly enjoyed the book and the ending left me gasping for more. There were moments of brilliance and moments of hilarity, moments that tugged at my heart and moments that inspired.
I generally don’t buy audiobooks that are less than eight hours long. I like long books that are engrossing and will take me a while. I took a chance on this book because I like Sean and Johnny. And I love Simon Whistler.
This book is Isaac Asimov meets Animal Farm with a smidgen of Terminator in there. It’s a little slow at the beginning. But after about a half-hour I was hooked. I can’t wait for season two! I only wish there was more swearing, because hearing Simon swear with his British accent is hilarious!
But seriously, if you like your science fiction with robots, revolution and the hint of violence, you’ll love this book!
Man, this story grabs you by the balls and takes you for a ride! And the ending left me reeling for days.
Like most Platt and Truant books, this series has a slow start. But each scene, chapter, and episode puts on another layer of depth, intrigue, hilarity, drama, and emotion. Quickly, Robot Proletariat went from quaint to awesome and addictive.
By halfway through, I was hooked like nobody's business. The authors managed to relentlessly raise the stakes in new and surprising ways. Then the last couple of minutes... Oh my god was that ending crazy. Right up to the last line, this story WILL leave you wanting more.
Platt and Truant are obviously master storytellers and accomplished entertainers. I can't wait for the next season. Because after that ending, nothing will ever be the same!
I haven't read the print version, but would guess I would prefer the audio.
Fast paced, Social issues important but they don't get in the way of the story.
Everything you wanted to know about robots but were afraid to ask
Although I rarely read science fiction these days, I thoroughly enjoyed this series. It isn't just a genre piece and has a unique voice. Without getting in the way of of its fast paced, entertaining story, the series has you deeply caring about the robots and about their distress. While it is somewhat reminiscent of The Help, it has more challenges and does an outstanding job of meeting them. What would The Help be without toilets and what's supposed to go in them? You can't use that sort of intimate humanity to ramp up your readers' emotions when you're dealing with robots. In addition, the story line isn't just about the robots and their plight. There's a murder thrown in for good measure.
I was very happy that my concern about it being the first season in a series of seasons turned out to be unwarranted. I hate books that don't resolve things in order to force you to buy the next book. The authors don't do that in this series. The story is complete and satisfying. Once they've satisfied you they drop a truly enticing bit of bait to get you interested in the next season. It really worked for me. I am dying to see what they do in the next season, but I don't feel at all cheated by this season.
A head's up for parents, there's some pretty frank talk about sexual practices; this isn't a kid's book For those adults who prefer things not to be too explicit, this book will be fine. There's talk, but no explicit sex scenes. The two sex-bot characters are a lot of fun and are three-dimensional enough to surprise you at points in the story.
One quibble: The narration seemed a bit hurried at the beginning, although it worked with the fast-paced story once I got used to it.
The story was smart, witty, and thought provoking. There was a definite knowledge and influence of other sci-fi mediums mixed in, most obviously from Isaac Asimov. The overall story line kept me enthralled through the entire season. It's definitely adult-oriented, but it all mostly fits in context with the story. The characters were well developed, and it was so easy to follow them throughout.
I would have to choose Mars, because the entire story follows his changes from simple servant to intelligent and empathetic robot, towards both humans and other robots. The story is written in such a way that his struggles and thoughts become the reader's struggles and thoughts.
He made even the most profane lines sound classy and highbrowed. His accent and tone made the entire story stand out more.
There was one particular part that made me go, "holy crap," but I can't say what it is without spoiling parts for other readers! And the ending made me yell at the computer that it couldn't be over already!
I loved this story, and I cannot wait for Season Two!!!
I've been gradually working my way through Sean and Johnny's books over the last few weeks, and it's great to be able to keep going with that while I'm driving around in my car. Just like everything else of theirs I've read so far, this is highly recommended.
*Note: I was given a free copy of the audiobook for review on Audible.com*
I understand that being "Season One" means there are, inevitably, more seasons to come. But the whole of this season seemed dedicated to setting up the following seasons rather than providing much of interest in the here and now. I felt like there was a lot of unnecessary repetition, especially of the themes of humans being barbaric, the nature of having a soul, whether sentient robots count as "living", etc.
Perhaps a human viewpoint would have actually strengthened things rather than just sticking with the choice to only have robot POVs.
Whistler has a British accent, which worked well for the setting since it takes place in British high society.
The audio narration was good for the most part - the British accent fit well with the setting - but the German accent for one of the main characters was pretty bad. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it just sounded like an obviously British guy trying to do a German accent.
The humorous parts with the sexbots and Miri's glitch were very well done, but were not enough to make up for what somehow felt like an overly brisk pace where nothing really actually happened.
Robot servants? I kept thinking of Rosie from the Jetsons. I was prepared for a cartoonish tale of misadventures involving tea trays. I was wrong. I didn’t expect the fully-formed characters, intricate plot, or complex motivations that I got in this book.
Few science fiction novels keep me reading for the characters, but this one did. The authors deftly walked the line of creating robot characters that were neither too real nor too machine-like. There are two sex bots (Relax, it sounds kinkier than it really is), who were written with such depth and nuance that when one of them suffers at the hand of her owner, I felt a sympathy for her that she didn’t feel for herself. It was in subtle ways like that, that the authors showed the humanity of the robots relative to the inhumanity of the humans. Like I said, it was a high wire act that the authors walked with artistry and poise.
I’m a fan of Simon Whistler’s podcast, but I had no idea he was such a brilliant voice actor! I am an audio book listener from way back in the cassette days. Simon’s narration ranks among the best I’ve heard.
I have not read the print version; however, I believe it would be. The narrator added wonderful elements to the story that would have been missing without his voice telling the tale.
Hard to say, really... The narrator's voice was a strong pick for this title. After a little early confusion between some voices, the narrator dropped into a set of tones and accents which were easy to distinguish. The tale was easy and fun to follow. As for the story itself - excellent writing from excellent writers I have enjoyed many a tale from!
A good voice, pleasant to listen to, which sort of "dropped away", not getting between the listener and the tale at all. He was able to create different voices for each character so that telling between them was easy.
No... Except that I REALLY want to see the next one! Actually, I really want to LISTEN TO the next one. This was a great experience, and one I will happily repeat if they continue Robot Proletariat into a second novel.
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