First of Their Kind

Chronicles of Theren, Book 1
Narrated by: Benjamin Fife
Series: Chronicles of Theren, Book 1
Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Synthetic Intelligence.

Thought impossible, but Dr. Wallace Theren has pushed the boundaries of computational science, creating an artificial mind capable of conscious thought. Naturally, his creation faces a harsh world bent on using it, exploiting it, or destroying it. If the first synthetic intelligence is to survive its early years, it'll need friends, but more importantly, it'll need a family.

And together, they'll need to show their enemies they're worth saving...or fearing.

Do you enjoy science fiction with robots, androids, virtual worlds, and corporate conspiracies? First of Their Kind is the first book of the Chronicles of Theren, a centuries-spanning science fiction series that will force listeners to question what it truly means to be a person.

It will invoke the character driven feel of a tale like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, but through a narrative that slowly unfolds upon a scale closer to that of Dune or The Expanse. But at the heart of First of Their Kind, you will experience the hopes and dreams of the first synthetic intelligences; the first SI. The story is through their eyes.

First of Their Kind is the first novel of Two Doctors Media Collaborative transformed into audio form; look for Their Greatest Game, its sequel.

©2019 C. D. Tavenor (P)2019 Two Doctors Media Collaborative

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Curiouser and curiouser

This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by this author. I am curious to see how this story is going to play out. I must admit, I found myself a few times checking to see how much was left of the book. It seemed to progress so slowly and yet when I think back quite a lot happened?? The book ends after building up to a crescendo, but leaves us hanging there. I like the realistic nature of the SIs- they were exponentially cleaver and smart and yet fell prey to various emotions, predjuices and preconceived notions. This book is deeper than appears at first.

This is the second book I’ve listened to by this narrator ( Benjamin Fife ) and I would listen to another. I think he did well. He used different voices and accents to differentiate the characters. The narrative was natural and not stilted like someone just reading a book.

There are no explicit sex scenes, excessive violence or swearing.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review.
Please feel free to comment on whether you found my review helpful.

3 people found this helpful

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Great narrator, smart story

Do enjoy reading or listening to fiction about tech that's only been theorized, a conspiracy theory, an insightful look into our future society? If so, this is a great listen for you.

Well-researched, I had the recurring thought that this is such a smart sci-fi novel as I listened. The narrator has a range of accents and an amazing ability to give voice to each character so distinctly that I knew which character was talking immediately.

Entertaining, enjoyable, worth the listen.

2 people found this helpful

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One Heck of a Great Story!

This Story was Great it showed the perceptive of a Synthetic Intelligence in our Society with all the prejudice mankind can Not get past. Excellent beginning of a Series. Definitely worth the money and Time to listen to or read!! Awaiting book 2 on Audible to be released in 2020.

2 people found this helpful

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Believable Science Fiction

I requested a free review copy of this book and I'm glad I did. I am writing a voluntary review of this book.

'First of Their Kind' centers around a human-created intelligence, called a synthetic intelligence (SI). The SI quickly decides it needs a name, and calls itself Theren. It also decides that it should take on pronouns that more specifically evoke personhood and uses the non-gender they/their. We follow Theren on their journey of what it means to be SI in a human world.

I like my sci-fi to be rooted more in the sci than the fi; this book delivers that. C. D. Tavenor has written a book that takes real world science and extrapolates it to a possible outcome in the future. The story is intelligent and well-researched. The plot points make sense with no need for the handwaving away of inconvenient scientific fact that so many authors rely on. For me, the science has to sound right. I had no problem with that here. The reader is given a thoughtful and thought-provoking story, most of which can be related to events happening today.

The narration by Benjamin Fife is equally good. His ability to create distinct character voices enhance the story Tavenor is telling. I liked his interpretation of Theren. It kept me listening.

I highly recommend this audiobook. Teens to adults will find it enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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Read it to the End!

If I am being perfectly honest, I didn't enjoy The First of Their Kind until the last few chapters. I felt the main character, Theren (pronouns they/their) was self-absorbed and it made it difficult to keep listening to the way they took in the world, almost annoying. They avoided human interaction, which resulted in missed connections, which lead me to question whether Theren really was as advanced as they were thought to be. But, by the end of the book, I realized that what Theren was experiencing was not faulty wiring, but in fact, trauma. Very early in the book, Theren has a traumatic experience and throughout the telling of their story, I discredited that trauma and it's effect on Theren's perception of the world. Some part of me thought an SI couldn't truly experience trauma, and if the SI (synthetic intelligence) was so advanced, then it would "heal" quickly. I thought an SI should be a more-perfect human but that turned out to be my own prejudice getting in the way! In the end, the book shocked me and resulted in a beautiful story about the human experience, with themes of trauma, love, and those missed connections that make us question our very existence. If you can open your mind, this book is sure to capture your heart, just like it did mine.

The narrator also did a fine job with this book. I enjoyed the range of voices and accents he was able to implement. But, I probably would have preferred a female voice or more gender-neutral voice given that most of the characters in the book do not identify as male. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story all the same.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Audible Story

Great hard sci-fi story for the time. Lot's of scientific data, reminiscent of Ray Bradbury.

1 person found this helpful

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Not your average sci-fi book

Thank you, C.D., for a copy of this book. I listened to it while reading along on my Kindle. Here is my honest review in return!

Reading/Listening to the first couple of chapters, I was a bit worried that this book would get too technical/scientific for me, but I ended up really enjoying it. I loved the action portion of the book as much as the sci-fi. This book makes you contemplate the impact AIs (artificial intelligence) opposed to SIs (synthetic intelligence) have, will have, and would have. The big question of what is a soul and do SIs have one? Including a clergy in the discussion of this question within the story was ingenious! I loved following the SIs from their infancy to - I guess you can call it - maturity (for the lack of a better word). C.D. Tavenor created characters that, at least for me, were "floating" in a grey zone, i.e., it was hard to decide who the antagonists were. Most characters were not all good or all bad, which is something I really appreciate since that is more real than being all hero or all villain. Usually, nobody is all villain - unless you are a psychopatch or sociopath - or all hero - unless your name is Jesus ;-)

The narrator of the audiobook was a perfect choice for this book. I also loved the sound effects for Michael's voice.

1 person found this helpful

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SI

*I have recieved this audiobook for free for an honest review*


This is really cool book on SI. The first O have read anyways. I really liked all the aspects of this book. I can't wait to see what happens. The audio was really good too. Glad I found this author!

1 person found this helpful

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What is a human?

[Note of disclosure: I received this book as a review copy, but will be as neutral as possible in my opinions]


It has been a while since I last experienced a book as great as C. D. Tavenor's First of Their Kind. When I started to listen to Benjamin Fife's narration, I didn't know what to expect of the upcoming six hours.


I most certainly did not expect to be taken on a philosophical trip about what counts as "human", and what identity really is.


I usually don't like politics in the books I read. Some can be fine, but there is a limit. First of Their Kind manages to stay far enough from the politics that Tavenor includes for it not to affect the story in a negative manner, and instead build onto it, making it feel more "realistic", which I really can appreciate as I've read many books where the same choice was made, but the author could not incorporate it correctly, instead making the story awfully cringe.


I don't know how well versed Tavenor is within the realm of AI studies (although I assume he made some research regarding it when writing at least), but as someone who studies AI in university, he really seems to know what he's talking about and the future he describes in his book feels like it is the future we're walking towards, a future that I hopefully will help build once I've gotten my degree.


The way Tavenor writes the SI (to not spoil too much, read SI as the books alternative to AI, although that's not the true definition) to an astounding level, keeping the "artificial" feeling that they're not completely human, and instead think in a different way, but still make them feel alive in the same way as the human characters. If you just look at the surface of it all, they'll seem like any other human character, but there are these subtle undertones in the way they think and act that really set them aside as something different-yet-same.


I don't really have anything to complain about regarding this book, which has been a really big release for me and I'm starting to get more motivated to read.


The narration is very good. I did get a feeling of the sound being low quality when I just started out, but after a minute or so it was gone. Maybe it was just my imagination or maybe the sound got better. We'll never know.


Overall, I give this book a 9/10.

1 person found this helpful

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Post Modern Prometheus, Sans Horror or Challenge

DISCLAIMER: I received this title for free in exchange for an unbiased review. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

WARNING: This review contains mild spoilers.

You remember Arnold as the Terminator. Yeah, this isn’t that. No SkyNet or robo-apocalypse, but a genuine, well thought out, non-threatening examination of benevolent Synthetic Intelligence. There are many philosophical questions the reader can drawn from the text, should they be so inclined. The data isn’t info-dumped on you, nor does the narrative pause and pretentiously ask “So, this Life thing; what’s that all about?” This is a thinking novel, no pun intended, challenging the listener to re-address what it takes to be sentient, real, human. And, it asks a bigger question; are we truly prepared to judge?

There is a solid narrative flow, engaging and captivating with surprisingly little emotion, but when it does occur the prior absence acts as a force multiplier. Shockingly little humor as well, however Tavenor’s wordcraft is so solid I didn’t notice the lack until I finished.

The audio was a little tinny and distant to my ears, but not distractingly so. Narrator Benjamin Fife’s (SoundCloud user: 29643215) other samples are neither tinny nor thin which leads me to suspect a producer asked for this particular sound effect. The story’s antagonist (based on Anonymous?) has an overly dramatic "evil voice" electronic filter. That effect got real old, real fast.

Fife gave each character a distinct voice, and a cadence and pacing that made the experience extremely listenable. There was only one repeated line. There were no obvious edits, mouth noise, or background hum. I give the narrator four stars. Four and a half if we can do fractions.

This is not noir. Despite comparisons to Blade Runner, this ain’t that. It is much too positive and upbeat. Tavenor clearly sunk a bunch of time into research and it peeks out occasionally. The view of SI is couched in rose-colored, academic glasses. Social concerns are acknowledged, but never explored in-depth. Our SI, Theren, shows very little, or any, doubt or uncertainty. There is an innocent arrogance to them, an undertone of innate superiority. They never acknowledge a mistake or miscalculation. They provide a too perfect mirror of humanity.

There’s no real personal conflict, either internally or externally, and what conflict there is consists of the extremes of gadfly trolls, abstract cultural forces, and immediately resolved mis-understandings. There is no risk to the SI that comes across as believable; no suspense, no drama, no stakes. And, tragically, no character development. I waited and waited for "Jane", Theren's "daughter", to catfish a human and get caught, as she tries on her humanity. And, the end felt rushed and contrived; very much, “and, a wizard walked by.”

So, is it worth a listen? You bet! It’s a great exploration, well thought out and internally consistent. It’s why I nitpicked above. If you like a science with hard edge and your philosophy on what it takes to be human challenged, this is the book for you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Norma Miles
  • 11-20-19

Question everyone, everything, even your friends

Artificial intelligence had always remained just that: artificial until Wallace Theren devised an entirely new way, a synthetic learning to, hopefully, produce synthetic intelligence. And with Test 43 he succeeded. After Wallace was assassinated, Test 43 took the name Tberen in honour and memory of the man, considered father. This is less a 'man-made-intelli gences-turning-on-their-creators' than a look back at humanity with unbiased and kind eyes. A sociological science fiction. Not that it is without it's thrills and action: these, too, come into this well executed stkry. And the ending leaves the reader wanting to know the future.

The story is not fast paced, but envolving, time taken to explain and enclose everything in an aura of plausibility. And, of course, reopens the debate about what constitutes human. Well written, it is also well performed by Benjamin's Fife.

My thanks to the rights holder of First of their Kind, who, at my request via Audiobook Boom, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy. The idea of the creation of such comp!ex being a that they can rival or excel the best human minds is a fascinating one: would such beings also have complete individuality, emotions and such like? And if so, would they be similar to our own or totally different? It is a good S.F. concept and this exploration is fascinating different from most. I am looking forward to book two..

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 11-19-19

A vision of the future

I was very happy to recieve a review copy of this book. It is a well written and narrated story, exploring the potential around the birth of AI and the impact on the world. The story balances the technical and social implications, along with elements of mystery to create an exciting story that is difficult to put down.

1 person found this helpful

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  • jenny
  • 02-17-20

Vision of a future

Loved this audiobook , slow to start but I was able to take in the scientific and characters made this story easier. Theron as a AI grew on me . Would recommend this story as it could be our future

The narrator was excellent and made Theron
character come alive

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  • Gillian M
  • 01-21-20

Intriguing and thought-provoking

C D Tavenor has created an intriguing storyline for First Of Their Kind (Chronicles of Theren Book 1) which I became totally immersed in. I found it extremely thought-provoking from technological, social, moral and political perspectives. It especially got me interested in discovering more about Synthetic Intelligence and I subsequently came across a great blog by Jason M. Pittman (Academic and Technologist) which I can highly recommend to anyone wanting to read more on the subject.

I was fascinated by the inclusion of the question of gender for the SIs and the fact that they got to choose their gender and their names for themselves, Test Forty-Three choosing to be gender-neutral and be called Theren, with Test Forty-Four choosing to identify as female and be called Jill. It was also interesting following their process of learning and evolution.

Given the top-secret, intricate strategy that these Sis are forced to adopt in a bid for self-preservation from the nutters who want to destroy them and the commercial/political entities that want to control and exploit them, I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book.

Benjamin Fife does a great job with the narration and I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook..

The only difficulty I had with “listening” to the book - not in any way a fault of the author or the narrator - was the confusion caused by they/them/their gender-neutral pronouns. It’s annoying that the English language can only offer these up for use in both singular and plural situations. You’d think by now we would have adopted into common everyday usage something clearly identifiable as a “singular” gender-neutral alternative to “he/him” or “she/her”, whether that be “ze/zir” or “zie/hir” or settling on something else. This English language shortcoming poses slightly less of a problem when reading the e-book, but for the audiobook I ended up having to replay several sections on hearing they/them/their just to make sure I hadn’t spaced out and missed something as my befuddled brain kept asking “who else is being referred to besides Theren?”.

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  • kharnynb
  • 11-25-19

A great twist on ai in a well written story

This is an interesting story about the creation of ai a story set in a believable future and it's reasonably well built science wise as well as having a good social dilemma built in. The writer makes a great story about the development of a new kind of intelligent life within an imperfect and yet hopeful world setting.


Benjamin Fife's narration provides a great listening experience that has great separate character voices and his storyteller voice is on of my favourites on audible, clear yet warm and engaging.

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  • Montyc
  • 11-08-19

short, but compelling

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

that being said, this book discusses many social issues we face today from a perspective that is relatable and measured, without forcing a bias in opinion, and not only does it offer this wider commentary, it is also an engaging and fun story with a good dose of robots. I only wish it was longer