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vN: The First Machine Dynasty (The Machine Dynasty Book 1) (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Madeline Ashby

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

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

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

Présentation de l'éditeur

Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.

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 her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade's history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed... Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Von Neumann Sisters | Fail Safe Fail | The Squid & the Swarm | Robot Nation ]


"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

"Picks up where Blade Runner left off and maps territories Ridley Scott barely even glimpsed. vN might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all off with the Three Laws." - Peter Watts

VN fuses cyberpunk with urban fantasy to produce something wholly new. There'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

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 409 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 253 pages
  • Utilisation simultanée de l'appareil : Illimité
  • Editeur : Angry Robot; Édition : 1 (29 juillet 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B008QZ1BHC
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°163.411 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 étoiles sur 5  91 commentaires
65 internautes sur 74 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 The cake is no lie, but it's got some big bites of eggshell 24 août 2012
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
But really, all pop culture references aside (and there are numerous), the book was middle of the road for me. For all the potential this story had, I found myself really struggling with the pacing, lack of exposition, and the ending. I hate to give the book two stars because there were some great ideas presented, and I certainly think Amy is an endearing protagonist who is worthy of reader affection, but after about halfway through the novel I found myself skimming pages in an almost desperate attempt to finish the book without spending any more time on it than I had to (which I did). The events that transpire around the book's middle and thereafter really fumbled me up, and the only reason I opted to finish the book was because of the time I'd already invested in the first half. I'll do my best to avoid spoilers

We are introduced to Amy (a synthetic humanoid android) in the prologue through the viewpoint of her human father. The time we spend here is actually quite precious and does its job of bringing the reader into a world that certainly has an authentic feel. Chaos ensues during Amy's kindergarten grad ceremony when her glitched-out grandmother shows up and demonstrates a failsafe malfunction that allows her to kill a human child, one of Amy's classmates. Amy flies into action an eats her grandmother, somehow absorbing her software.

We then switch to Amy for most of the remainder of the book. Amy comes under arrest after the events of her grad ceremony cause something of a mass-market recall for her model. On her way to "prison" she is boosted by another vN, Javair, and begins living as a fugitive with the primary goal of reuniting with her parents, while the whole time learning about her mother and grandmother's past. Things proceed interestingly up until about halfway through the book.

At this point, the famous "show don't tell" adage sent me to my knees.

Particularly, I had trouble with the "Amy-clone zombie robot hoard". Anyone who's read to page 180 or so knows what major plot point I'm talking about. I'm tempted to blame modern editorial preferences for this, but the lack of exposition and (in my opinion) motivation/development transparency here fumbled the whole rest of the book for me. This scene was all I could think about until the ending. The only thing I managed to piece together by the books conclusion was that hundreds, or perhaps thousands, or Amy's shared "Portia" model, had somehow all become broken and desperately wanted to consume/cannibalize Amy, Charlotte, and Portia (specifically), to gain the ability to hurt humans...this did not work for me AT ALL. While the book makes the shortcomings of humanity clear and makes a strong case that they deserve to be rebelled against, the way the zombie hoard is so incredibly convenient that I couldn't buy it. It seems as though every single "Portia" was a daughter of Amy's Grandmother, or something to that effect, and were abused and-

-let me stop-

As you can tell by my rant here, I had major issues with the clarity here.

Additionally, the humans involved in the zombie robot scene seemed very contrived, in fact, most humans did. I was extremely disappointed that we never got to see any of the humans like Amy's dad, and the affect they were having politically, or socially, on robot rights, and things of that nature. I felt like the really relevant story contained within this story went untold because either the author or the editors were too busy keeping up the break-neck pacing to create proper atmosphere and world. I tried to allow a willing suspension of disbelief, and it worked until that zombie hoard scene. Then, I just couldn't.

Not only did the second half of the book keep my eyes somewhat glossed over (since I felt so incredibly jipped with the zombie hoard scene in the middle of the book), the ending perpetrated Deus Ex Machina in such a literal sense that I almost gave myself a concussion slamming the book against my head. That being said, it was cool, and it was done in an interesting way that was consistent with the character, but I feel like it was the ending to a completely different story/quest arc, one in which this ending is her goal, and it is worked for. Yes, I understand it puts Amy on a brink of war but...eh...The Mechanical God...it really, REEALLY happens.

Concerning the writing itself, the author does a fine job in the prologue and while she uses Amy as her POV. Shifts throughout the book seemed pointless, and the information given to the reader during those shifts could've been delivered in much cooler, more creative ways (IMO). Particularly, this is a very strange shift during the climax that almost had me tearing out pages to finish. The little information I gleaned from these passages was jumbled, confusing, verging on annoying even. After only a few sentences I couldn't stop bringing my attention back to the "book" and COMPLETELY out of the story.

Sadly, I do not think any addition books in this series will make it onto my reading list. Like I said, there were some great great ideas here, but in my opinion they couldn't salvage the story-telling once I hit the middle of the book.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A unique AI tale featuring a strong female lead while examining mother/daughter/grandmother relationships 28 mars 2013
Par AMM - Publié sur Amazon.com
I am pleased to say that this book gets it mostly right. It's enjoyable, scientifically minded, culturally thought-provoking, and examines a real life issue in the context of genre, which long-time readers of this blog know is something I highly enjoy.

The first thing that made me know this is a smart book is the source of the robots (called Von Neumanns after their creator). A fundamentalist group in the American South decided that the humans left behind after Jesus' Second Coming should have someone to help them through the Tribulation, so they invented humanoid robots to be ready to help. Clearly, the Second Coming didn't happen, and the fundamentalists ended up selling Von Neumanns, and the Von Neumanns wind up a part of the cultural backdrop, not to mention the porn industry. This is the most unique and engaging origin story for robots that I've seen, plus it makes sense and provides cultural commentary.

The characters, including the robots, are three-dimensional. Everyone has complex motivations and the main characters definitely grow and progress with time. No one is presented as pure evil or good.

The plot is similarly complex. There's a lot going on in Amy's world, and none of it is predictable. What is the failsafe precisely and is it a good or a bad thing? Is it a natural progression that it doesn't work in Amy? What about how Amy's mother and grandmother reacted to the human world around them? Did they see accurate shortcomings or were they just malfunctioning? And what about how the various humans use the Von Neumann's? For instance, pedophiles acquire Von Neumanns and keep them young by starving them. Is this a good, harmless thing since it protects human children or have robots evolved to be far more than just a machine? The world is complex and full of tough questions, and thus is challenging and unpredictable, making for an engaging read.

What I most enjoyed though was how the whole book presents the question of nature versus nurture in a genre setting. Are we our parents with no hope of improvement or escape? Or do we have more say in the matter than just our genetics or "programming"? Amy has a psychopathic grandmother and a mother who has made questionable choices. Does this mean that Amy is evil or malfunctioning or even capable of being something different from the rest of her family?

All that said, there were two things that kept this back from five stars for me. First, some of the writing style choices Ashby uses drew me out of the story a bit. They are periodically highly artistic in a way that didn't jibe with the story for me. I get why she made those choices, but as a reader they aren't ones that generally work for me. Second, one thing that really drew me out of the story is the fact that the robot's boobs don't move. This is mentioned at one point as being a way to tell if a woman is robot or not. This drew me out of the world very hard while I laughed uproariously. I'm sorry, but machines designed by men would simply not have hard plastic boobs. Their boobs would bounce! This would at least be in the top 10 list of robot requirements. It simply wasn't a realistic design choice, and it pulled me out of the story to such an extent that it lost the believability for a bit for me.

Overall, this is a creatively written and complex scifi artificial intelligence story that examines not just what makes us human but also individuality and uniqueness separate from parents and family. Some of the more artistic writing choices and high levels of violence might not appeal to all audiences, but if you're an AI or scifi lover with an interest in nature versus nurture and stories featuring strong female leads, you should definitely give this a go.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Darkly satirical novel about sex, love, robots, and slavery 8 mai 2014
Par ML - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
A pedophile preacher successfully develops a race of sentient humanoid robots, ostensibly built in order to aid and comfort the wicked people left behind after the coming Rapture. What could possibly go wrong?

Robots in Madeline Ashby's near-future world are called "vN" after John von Neumann, the Jewish-Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, and all-around genius who, among other things, laid the groundwork for virtually all computers in use today (they're called "von Neumann machines" for a reason) and also developed a theory of self-replicating machines, which, by the way, the vN are. Self-replicating, that is. Given enough "food" -- plastic, iron, and other minerals -- they not only grow like organic beings, they also reproduce through a form of asexual budding. It's a cool idea, though Ashby never explains how or whether the vN's self-replication mechanism is based on von Neumann's theory.

Once the vN technology goes to market, vNs appear everywhere in roles such as laborer, servitor, and, inevitably, prostitute. But vNs are smart, self-aware, learning machines with the capacity to detect, understand, and even feel -- or at least simulate -- human emotion. They become girlfriends and boyfriends and husbands and wives of humans, and, when vNs "iterate" (reproduce), their "children" become family members. The children can even look like human children as long as they're kept on a near-starvation diet. One of those children is Amy, a kindergartner whose vN mother and human father struggle to give a normal, suburban, middle-class, human upbringing.

This does not turn out as well as hoped. Something does go very wrong when an out-of-control robot kills a human child. All vN are equipped with a "failsafe" that prevents them from harming humans and, consistent with Asimov's famous three laws (I, Robot), requires them to protect humans from harm. When this killer robot turns out to be Amy's grandmother, and when humans begin to suspect that Amy and her mother may share grandma's flaw, things do not look good for Amy.

But, as Ashby continually reminds us -- without directly saying so -- what's really wrong is not that there's a robot -- or even a few robots -- out there who can defy humans, it's rather that humans are so *inhumane* in their views and their treatment of these sentient beings that live and work among them. Some reviewers have suggested that Asby uses vN as a stand-in for racial/ethnic minorities or other marginalized groups. I don't think that's the case; the kind of exploitation and maltreatment that concerns Ashby is universal.

So ... This is not a book for kids; there's too much ugly violence, especially (implied) sexual violence. It's not laugh-out-loud funny. It's not really a thriller, although there are some chases, escapes, and close encounters with death. Perhaps it's a mystery, but the mystery is mostly whether or not humans can love robots, robots can love humans, robots can love robots, or anybody can love themselves (in a non-narcissistic way), whether sex is (only) about selfish pleasure, and whether we can have non-exploitative relationships with others, especially those who are not quite like us.

Others have complained about deficiencies in the novel -- which is, after all, a first novel. There are some puzzling moments, and when you step back you have to ask "But why did it happen this way?" or "Why didn't that happen?" It's also a bit annoying that Ashby makes so many references that will be obscure to many readers; e.g., if you haven't read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? you're going to be clueless about why the vN restaurant chain is called "Electric Sheep," and if you haven't seen Blade Runner, you're not going to know why it features a drink called "Tears in Rain." I think these are minor problems, and while they bugged me a little during my read, I found reading vN well worth the time and effort. Recommended.
12 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 unable to finish it 17 juin 2014
Par noappliances - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I'm baffled by the positive reviews of this book. The writing is painfully bad. It reads like the work of a thirteen-year-old trying to be profound and edgy. In a typical turn of phrase from this book we read, during a fight scene, "Her teeth sang." Ah. Well. "Sing", did they? It is page after page of this kind of crap.

The science fiction in the book is so moronic it strains one's suspension of disbelief far past the breaking point. If it were a Douglas Adams story the absurdity would be the point. But this story isn't trying to be funny. You're supposed to take it seriously. It's much worse than the "human battery" plot point in the Matrix, for comparison.

The characters are so poorly developed, it's often struggle to figure out what the author is getting at. An odd phrase leaves you thinking "What? Oh! Right! There was one sentence three chapters ago briefly mentioning this character trait."

I tried twice to finish it, but am throwing in the towel at this point. I've read books that are intentionally or unintentionally so bad they're good. This book is not like that. It's just bad.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Parenting as Programming 19 juillet 2014
Par Eric Juneau - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
In the first chapter, a five-year-old child robot eats her estranged grandmother, python-style, and goes from kindergartner to adult in an instant from the additional biomass.

Good opening, and there are some interesting WTF circumstances (like robots were created to fill out the Earth after the rapture) but the rest stagnates. Once again, it's a book where the robots don't act like robots. They act like people. The only difference is they know they were artificially created. But other than that, they eat, they fall in love, they procreate. You can't tell the difference. The interesting things are just background -- they don't come into play with the plot and don't even make plausible sense in the scheme of the world.

The story is about programming as parenting. The problem is it felt more like a summer blockbuster action piece with chase sequences and romances that don't blossom until the end, and for me, those just don't work in a book format. It was a sludge to get through. It's a promising idea, and it does use some tropes like the existence of smart "gray goo" and robots in/as families in new ways. I can see this appealing to those few who liked A.I. and Brazil.
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