Madeline AshbyvN: The First Machine Dynasty

Angry Robot Books, 2012

by Dan Nexon on October 19, 2012

Madeline Ashby

View on Amazon

Amy Peterson is a five-year old self-replicating android who lives with her synthetic mother and human “father.” Her struggles might be that of any super-intelligent youngster whose body and mind mark her as different than her schoolmates, but then her grandmother, Portia, appears at her kindergarten graduation and attacks her mother. Amy’s intervention leads to a startling result: she eats her grandmother and, in doing so, stores a self-aware fragment of Portia within a memory partition. She soon learns that Portia has a peculiar trait–she lacks the failsafe the prevents Vns from harming human beings. Now Amy must flee for her life while discovering the truth about herself and her inheritance.

vN: The First Machine Dynasty (Angry Robot Books, 2012) is Madeline Ashby‘s debut novel. Ashby is a strategic foresight consultant based in Toronto. She holds a masters degree in anime and manga writes on related subjects at io9, BoingBoing, and Tor.com. Her background and skill transform what might have been a straightforward work of Speculative Fiction into a provocative rumination on objectification, commodification, and the politics of difference. Peter Watts, author of Blindsight, describes Vn as picking up “where Blade Runner left off” and writes that “vN might just be the most piercing interrogation of humanoid AI since Asimov kicked it all of with the Three Laws.” I agree, and am considering assigning vN in my “Politics and Speculative Fiction” course.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: