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vN: The First Machine Dynasty | [Madeline Ashby]

vN: The First Machine Dynasty

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks them, young Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she’s on the run, carrying her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive. She’s growing quickly, and learning too. Like the fact that in her, and her alone, the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has stopped working….
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Publisher's Summary

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks them, young Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she’s on the run, carrying her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive. She’s growing quickly, and learning too. Like the fact that in her, and her alone, the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has stopped working… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.

©2012 Madeline Ashby (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Ashby’s debut 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)

"vN might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws.” (Peter Watts)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (41 )
5 star
 (7)
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2 star
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Overall
3.6 (37 )
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Story
3.9 (37 )
5 star
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Joe Frazier Cary, NC USA 05-22-14
    Joe Frazier Cary, NC USA 05-22-14 Member Since 2014

    a dedicated dilettante

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Imaginative Novel of Robots, Control & Chaos"

    A few things to know about Ms. Ashby - she's a flippin' genius, a marvelous storyteller and she's willing to pursue her ideas and stories without reference to niceties. While I think it would be fair to say she's a liberal feminist, she's way not PC. She takes it all head-on, sensibilities be hanged. She reminds me of a liberal Ayn Rand with a few important differences besides ideology - she knows how to edit, if she explores the same or similar themes, she does so in interesting and new ways; Ms. Rand tended to rehash with slight variations. Also, her are subservient to the story, not the other way around. vN explores themes tied to sentient androids and their relations to humans other vN (she invokes something similar to Asimov's 3 laws of robotics), unique issues tied to self-replicating androids (hence the Von Neumann machine reference) and a world in which cataclysmic events have destabilized our world (does she have a thing against Seattle?). "An iteration is not a copy, it is simply the next version." Ashby, Madeline (2012-07-31). vN (First Machine Dynasty) (Kindle Location 3651). Osprey Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    Prior to dipping my toes below the spoiler line, however, I also want to commend Christina Traister's narration. As I typically do, I went between the Kindle and Audible versions relying on Whispersync for Voice to keep me on track. I would think this book would be a bit of a challenge to narrate. Amy needs to be young whilst quickly becoming a full, somewhat jaded woman. Javier is a Hispanic-based model. Portia is wacked. The terminology is a bit eclectic, to wit "...but her spirit was as strong as the titanium sheathing her graphene coral bones, her personal integrity as impermeable as the silicone skin overlaying the polymerdoped memristors embedded there, her wit as quick as the carbon aerogel currents wafting through and shaping the musculature of her body." Say that fives times fast. Ms. Traister handles it all with aplomb. Her phrasing and pacing are spot on. Her characters are believable and the tone of her voice matches them and their context. She is easy to understand. Lovely work. Seriously good reads; I highly recommend both books (but start with vN).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    robert COLUMBIA, MO, United States 01-24-14
    robert COLUMBIA, MO, United States 01-24-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    9
    6
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    Story
    "THIS IS IT."
    Would you listen to vN again? Why?

    no because i rember it. but maybe years after now


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    they all are good. amy is the main. good and crazy AI


    Which scene was your favorite?

    humm idk alot of them


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yea but i had to sleeep eat and work and drive.


    Any additional comments?

    you will like this book. if you like sifi and ai stuff

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alison 01-09-14
    alison 01-09-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    46
    3
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    "A strange book"
    Would you try another book from Madeline Ashby and/or Christina Traister?

    Maybe


    Would you ever listen to anything by Madeline Ashby again?

    Maybe


    Which character – as performed by Christina Traister – was your favorite?

    Didn't have one


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I was initially intrigued by the uniqueness, strangeness, quirkyness of this book. Because of this, I stuck with it to the end. But I am a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy geek, so I am sure that most people would bail before the end.


    Any additional comments?

    The weirdness was just ok. But the ending, the last 2 chapters, was just tooo strange and annoyed me - I felt that I had wasted my time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katya A new york 03-04-13
    Katya A new york 03-04-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
    ratings
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    43
    28
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    3
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    Story
    "Not your average 'Pinocchio' AI Sci-Fi"

    Sci-Fi genre is full of stories about self-aware artificial intelligence and their place in the human world. This book is off the beaten 'But I'm a real boy (girl)' path. Don't expect dwelling on AI vs Humans ethical questions, they are there but not as a centerpiece of the story, it never moralizes and makes you feel like you just sat through a Sunday school lesson about humanity.

    vN is about evolution of artificial 'life', designed as help and entertainment, constrained by Asimov's Laws of Robotics and programmed limits to morality. They reproduce by iteration, which is as much of self-replicating as human children are replicas of their parents. Ultimately, that’s the moral of the story – we are more than we’re made to be and that restrictions, limitations and expectations will not in the end hold us back. The same goes for robots.

    The writing is tight, the characters likable, and the story is compelling. The book is is fairly low on technobabble, and it’s character-driven as well as idea-driven.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 08-11-14
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 08-11-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
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    77
    48
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    5
    4
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    "Pinocchio on the run"

    This debut novel by Madeline Ashby asks some interesting questions about what the motivations and desires of humanoid AIs would be, and the surprising answer is remarkably similar to what their human creators seek. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of robo-happiness looks much the same as the familiar goals, with some cosmetic differences in the health & diet departments. Ashby’s von Neumann robots are lot like the vampires making the rounds in a lot of YA fiction these days: Super-powered, beautiful versions of people who happen to eat something unusual, but share all our emotions and dramas. Here, I was a bit disappointed, and saw potential for some wildly interesting outlook that superimposes inarguable machine logic on top of everyday life. The closest thing here was the universally in-built “failsafe” directive that the vN possess which compels them to obey and cherish humans, (their garlic/sunlight/stake/holy water Achilles’ heel). The central conflict of the story arrises from, naturally, the appearance of a vN who can willfully ignore her failsafe. Like many of those YA ‘paranormal romance’ stories, there is a blossoming romance in the works, and an authoritarian regime eager to snuff it all out. The first person perspective brought to mind Charles Stross’ “Saturn’s Children”, which also featured a female humanoid robot protagonist, and a parallel mechanism to the failsafe whereby robots are compelled to obey all humans completely and lovingly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christina b. davitt randolph, nj United States 08-15-12
    christina b. davitt randolph, nj United States 08-15-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    5
    2
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    0
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    "Not as good as I thought it could be"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Not really - it was frustrating experience.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Madeline Ashby? Why or why not?

    Probably not. There were compelling ethical questions but no answers or hints that the author even knew what questions the book raised.


    How could the performance have been better?

    For some reason, the speaker pronounced Javier with a 'D'. Very odd and took you out of the narrative spell repeatedly.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Sure - Hollywood would turn it into a sci-fi action flick much like 'I, Robot'. It would be a fun way to pass the time with some popcorn.


    Any additional comments?

    I really wanted to like it - the description sounded right up my alley.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • Tatiana
    Europe
    2/9/13
    Overall
    "Entertaining, but could've been more."

    Vaguely reminded me of Stephen Fine's "Molly Dear: The Autobiography of an Android" in the beginning, but gets better and to be its own thing along the way.



    Was entertaining enough for a story that, with a mild degree of tongue in cheek, could be described as "a 'quiverfull' guy and a bleeding heart girl battle a strong, separatist woman."



    Liked the voice talent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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