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Interview with Madeline Ashby, author of vN and iD - June 21, 2013


Please welcome Madeline Ashby to The Qwillery. iD, the second novel in the Machine Dynasty series, will be published on June 25 in the US/Canada and July 4 in the UK.



Interview with Madeline Ashby, author of vN and iD -  June 21, 2013




TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery!

Madeline:  Thank you for having me!



TQ:  What do you wish you'd known when the your first novel, vN, came out that you know now?

Madeline:  Hmm. I wish I had known how slowly the field of publishing can move, sometimes. It's not terribly fast. This isn't a bad thing, but it can be difficult to be patient, especially when it's your first book. Everything seems like it takes too long, when in reality it's just moving at the normal pace. It's just that you don't know that pace, because it's your first time. For someone who basically grew up with the Internet, it can be a little bit of a surprise.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing about writing for you?

Madeline:  Finding the zone. It's all too easy to procrastinate, or to tell yourself that it's just not a good day for good work, or that whatever you're working on isn't good enough and you should stop. Ignoring all that external stimuli, and all those inner voices, is really hard. It really takes a certain faith in yourself and faith in the process that can be hard to muster when you're in the mushy middle of something.



TQ:  Please tell us something about iD (Machine Dynasty 2) that is not in the book description.

Madeline:  Oh, there's a lot. I list a few things. iD has casinos, and cruise ships, and housing developments, and brothels, and theme parks, and a lot of sex instead of a lot of violence. It takes place near Christmas, but isn't really a Christmas story. It's about a guy on a quest for revenge that's really a quest for his own destiny, and that guy happens to be a robot who can't hurt human beings but is really pretty awesome in the sack.



TQ:  Which character has surprised you the most in the series so far?

Madeline:  I think Portia continues to surprise me. Or rather, it surprises me how much I enjoy being with her. She's pure villainy through and through, but she says the things that everybody wishes they could say, and she does things that they are scared to even imagine doing. She's a ferociously strong character, and I'm always surprised at the power she has to turn a scene around for me and give me something new and fun and challenging to do with it.



TQ:  Are there any other genres in which you would like to write?

Madeline:  I suppose at some point I should write a YA novel. But that's a market, not a genre. I live with a horror writer, and I spend time with a lot of horror writers, so I guess I'm likely to get the itch to do one of those some day. But I don't really feel like I'm done with science fiction. I haven't pissed enough people off, yet.



TQ:  What's next?

Madeline:  Right now I'm working on a story for the Hieroglyph Project, which is a collaboration between the Center for Science and the Imagination, and Arizona State University. The project is inspired by a speech that Neal Stephenson gave on the need for big ideas in science fiction. And I'm talking with Angry Robot about what else we can do in the future.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Machine Dynasty

iD
Series:  Machine Dynasty 2
Publisher:  Angry Robot, June 25, 2013 (US/Can Print / eBook); July 4, 2013 (UK Print)
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:   $14.99 (print)
ISBN:   9780857663115 (print)

Interview with Madeline Ashby, author of vN and iD -  June 21, 2013
Javier is a self-replicating humanoid on a journey of redemption.

Javier’s quest takes him from Amy’s island, where his actions have devastating consequences for his friend, toward Mecha where he will find either salvation… or death.

File Under: Science Fiction [ vN2 | Island in the Streams | Failsafe No More | The Stepford Solution ]




vN
Series:  Machine Dynasty 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, July 31, 2012 (US/Canada); August 2, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
Price:  $12.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857662620 (print)

Interview with Madeline Ashby, author of vN and iD -  June 21, 2013
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 ]




Covers for vN and iD are by Martin Bland.





About Madeline
(from Angry Robot)

Interview with Madeline Ashby, author of vN and iD -  June 21, 2013
Kayleigh McCollum
Madeline grew up in a household populated by science fiction fans. She graduated from a Jesuit university in 2005, after having written a departmental thesis on science fiction.

After meeting Ursula K. LeGuin in the basement of the Elliott Bay Book Company that year, she decided to start writing science fiction stories. While immigrating to Canada from the United States in 2006 , she could not work or study and joined the Cecil Street Irregulars – a genre writers’ workshop founded by Judith Merril – instead.

Since then she has been published in Tesseracts, Flurb, Nature, Escape Pod and elsewhere. She has a masters degree in Manga and Anime and writes on such matters for i09, Tor.com and BoingBoing. Currently she works as a strategic foresight consultant in Toronto.

Madeline’s first book for Angry Robot is vN, which introduces us to Amy, a robot who has been grown in a stable family environment, with her robot mother and human father. But alone of all her kind, her human-protecting failsafe has stopped working. Soon she is on the run from the law, and worse – everyone’s after her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her. Her sole friend is a robot boy who’s programmed to only like humans…

You can find Madeline at her website, madelineashby.com or follow her on twitter.


**********


Read Madeline's 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blog - Gynoid Trouble - here and interview here.


Cover Revealed - iD by Madeline Ashby - March 10, 2013


Angry Robot Books has revealed the cover for iD by Madeline AhsbyiD is the second novel in The Machine Dynasty series. The first in the series, vN, was published in July 2012. As with vN, the artwork for iD is by Martin Bland.

iD will be published on June 25, 2013 in the US/Canada and on July 4, 2013 in the UK. The eBook is out on June 25th.


Cover Revealed - iD by Madeline Ashby - March 10, 2013
Javier is a self-replicating humanoid on a journey of redemption.

Javier’s quest takes him from Amy’s island, where his actions have devastating consequences for his friend, toward Mecha where he will find either salvation… or death.

File Under: Science Fiction [ vN2 | Island in the Streams | Failsafe No More | The Stepford Solution ]




And the first novel in the Machine Dynasty:

vN
Machine Dynasty 1
Angry Robot Books, July 31, 2012 (US/Canada)
August 2, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Cover Revealed - iD by Madeline Ashby - March 10, 2013
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 ]




These are very striking covers!


Interview with Madeline Ashby - August 1, 2012

Please welcome Madeline Ashby to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. vN (Machine Dynasty 1) was published on July 31, 2012 in the US and Canada. Look for vN tomorrow in the UK and RoW. You may read Madeline's Guest Blog - Gynoid Trouble - here.


Interview with Madeline Ashby - August 1, 2012


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Madeline:  I can't write without headphones on. It's weird. I just can't focus without the music being right up close and personal with me. I use Sony MDR-EX57LP earbuds. They deliver good bass sound and surprisingly good noise cancellation. I won't wear anything else, unless it's an upgrade to that off-centre earbud model from Sony (like the MDRNC100D). They're the perfect headphones.


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Madeline:  I think I subscribe to the "candy bar" school of thought. I have certain scenes in mind and I write my way toward them.


TQ:  What is the most challenging thing to you about writing?

Madeline:  Sitting down in the chair and getting it done.


TQ:  Describe vN in 140 characters or less.

Madeline:  It's the heartwarming quest of one little robot to discover why she's a born killer.


TQ:  What inspired you to write vN?

Madeline:  It was a lot of different things. I had worked on a thesis on anime and cyborg theory, so I was reading a lot about replication and authenticity. I was also watching a lot of anime in which replication played a big part, everything from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex to Naruto. So it was on my mind a great deal. Eventually I had an idea about a man who discovers that his wife and daughter are self-replicating humanoids. Then I realized that was a really old-fashioned idea, and it would be more intriguing if he already knew and had accepted it, but didn't quite know everything. So that was how the prologue to the novel was born.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for vN?

Madeline:  I spent time looking at artificial muscle and polymer-doped memristors and cyanophageous algae and how it photosynthesizes. Plus I had to find out a lot of about the Cascadia fault line. And I was a consuming a lot of robot-related media, so it was all fresh in my mind. I knew who I was in dialogue with.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in vN?

Madeline:  I actually re-read the ending quite a lot. I was so happy to finally get there, and to finally get it the way I wanted it. Not to give anything away, but it felt great to see where everyone ended up.


TQ:  Who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Madeline:  Amy was tough for me, at first. I had to do a few passes before I felt like I really knew her. Portia, her grandmother, was much easier. Portia is also very fun to write. She's pure spite. She's everything you wish you could say but choose not to. So actually once you open that valve, it all just comes spewing out. What's harder is shutting it once you're finished.


TQ:  What's next?

Madeline:  I'm working on the sequel to vN, titled iD. It's from the perspective of Javier, a supporting character in the first novel. He's on a quest for redemption and revenge, and it takes him to a lot of interesting places, particularly in the American Southwest. I just watched The Wizard of Oz again recently, and it was amazing how helpful that was in helping me understand the structure of those types of stories.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.



About vN

vN
Machine Dynasty 1
Angry Robot Books, July 31, 2012 (US/Canada)
August 2, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Madeline Ashby - August 1, 2012
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 ]




About Madeline

Interview with Madeline Ashby - August 1, 2012
Madeline Ashby is the author of vN, available July 31 from Angry Robot Books. Her fiction has been published in Nature, FLURB, Escape Pod, and elsewhere. Her non-fiction has appeared at BoingBoing, Creators Project, WorldChanging, io9.com and Tor.com. She works as a foresight consultant in Toronto.


Website : Facebook : Google+ : Twitter

Guest Blog by Madeline Ashby - Gynoid Trouble

Please welcome Madeline Ashby to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. vN (Machine Dynasty 1), Madeline's debut, will be published by Angry Robot Books on July 31, 2012 in the US/ Canada and on August 2, 2012 in the UK/ RoW.



Gynoid Trouble

I was flying back from a trip to Intel's IXR Lab when a British ad man caught me looking at the cover of my book vN on my computer. I explained that the book was about a robot named Amy. That was Amy (and her mother Charlotte, and her grandmother Portia) on the cover.

"Does she know she's a robot?" my seat mate asked.

"Oh yes," I answered. "She knows. She's always known. She's very happy being a robot. She doesn't want to be anything else."

Saying these words aloud, I realized how odd they sounded. After all, many stories about robots are about establishing an identity. Most of this time that means that the robots, like Pinocchio, wish to become "real." The Tin Woodsman wants the Wizard to give him a heart. Little David, in both "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" and its film adaptation, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, longs to become a real little boy. Both Rick Deckard and Roy Batty are on a quest for authenticity; neither can find it without Eldon Tyrell's help. Commander Data wants to find Dr. Soong, so that he can have his emotion chip installed. Astro Boy wants to impress his creator, Dr. Tenma, and later his adopted father, Professor Ochanomizu. Even David Weyland, the robot in Ridley Scott's latest disappointment, Prometheus, performs a human identity to the best of his ability so that his father will recognize that he does indeed have a soul. All of these stories stem from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, in which the Creature that Victor Frankenstein creates goes on a quest to find him, prove his humanity to him, and ultimately punish him for having abandoned him. In turn, M.W. Shelley's story stems from both the Prometheus and Satan myths: an angry creation's quest to prove himself to a distant creator, a quest that turns violent or destructive when the creator fails to appreciate his creation.

Most robot stories are all about daddy issues. Most robot stories are also about male robots, written by men. I suspect this is not a coincidence. But in vN, I wasn't writing about sons and fathers, but about mothers and daughters. I was also influenced by Donna Haraway's A Cyborg Manifesto, in which she says:

Unlike the hopes of Frankenstein's monster, the cyborg does not expect its father to save it through a restoration of the garden; that is, through the fabrication of a heterosexual mate, through its completion in a finished whole, a city and cosmos. The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust. Perhaps that is why I want to see if cyborgs can subvert the apocalypse of returning to nuclear dust in the manic compulsion to name the Enemy. Cyborgs are not reverent; they do not re-member the cosmos. They are wary of holism, but needy for connection- they seem to have a natural feel for united front politics, but without the vanguard party. The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.

Now, Amy is not a cyborg. She is all machine. A robot. But her family unit is cyborg: a fusion of organic and synthetic elements in the form of her robot mother and human father, who live together as a mixed-species couple. The cyborg values Haraway described appealed to me, and over time they became Amy's values and those of her family: atheism, pluralism, the rejection of origin, a commitment to designing a good life based on personal desires and not social constructs. Those are the values Amy takes out into the world when she goes on an adventure that leads her to some truths about her family and herself.

But values weren't enough. When I tried to think of stories about female robots, all I could come up with were women like Rachael Rosen in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: cold, calculating, using sex as a weapon. I thought about the Buffybot, and Data's daughter Lal, and Pris and Zhora. The Stepford Wives. The Cylons: 6, 8, etc. Deceivers, mostly, or substitutes. The mechanical brides of Frankenstein's Creature. Only Molly Millions stands out as someone you might wish you could be, someone with her own position in the world. But she's a cyborg, not a robot. The only remotely healthy models of fully gynoid subjectivity I could think of were Japanese: Motoko Kusanagi, from Ghost in the Shell (all of its iterations); Gally/Alita, from Battle Angel Alita/Gunm; Melfina, from Outlaw Star; Chii, from Chobits; R. Dorothy Wayneright from Big O, and KOS-MOS, the star of the Xenosaga RPGs.

Of those, Kusanagi's story is the one that always resonates most deeply with me. In all of her incarnations -- manga or film or television animation -- she is a woman who must confront the darkest aspects of herself and reintegrate all of her disparate elements into a coherent identity. Susan J. Napier describes Kusanagi's growth as a series of "falls" and crossed thresholds both literal and figurative. This is a classic journey from girl to goddess, in which the "devouring mother" or wicked queen of Jungian archetype must be faced and displaced so that the girl can become a woman. Similarly, the more Freudian "uncanny double" appears a great deal in stories about female robots and cyborgs: in Dick's novel Rachael and Pris are doubles; Chii has Freya; KOS-MOS has T-elos; Dorothy has R.D.; Lain Iwakura has the "wild Lain"; Rei Ayanami has multiple clones and is herself a clone of Yui Ikari. All of these doubles must be subdued for the heroine to achieve her goal. The heroine's journey is the transition from object to subject. More specifically, the gynoid heroine's journey is the transition between "automaton" to "autonomous". From a piece of consumer technology to one who can never be owned. As Rei Ayanami says, "Wastashi wa anatta no ningyo ja nai; watashi wa anatta ja nai mono." I am not your puppet; I am not your thing.

This is not to say that all women have the same journey, or that all women are the same. Haraway herself said it: "There is nothing about being 'female' that naturally binds women. There is not even such a state as 'being' female, itself a highly complex category constructed in contested sexual scientific discourses and other social practices." She wrote these words five years before Judith Butler published Gender Trouble, before "gender performativity" was a term students had to memorize. But I was thinking of both women when I wrote vN. I was also thinking about Christopher Bolton's articles on Ghost in the Shell, specifically related to bunraku puppet theatre and its relationship to the performance of both gender and humanity. Female robots, or robots coded feminine at least, would have it bad both ways, I thought. Not only would they have to be more human than human, they would have to be more woman than women.

And that seemed like a quest in and of itself.



About vN

vN
Machine Dynasty 1
Angry Robot Books, July 31, 2012 (US/Canada)
August 2, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Guest Blog by Madeline Ashby - Gynoid Trouble
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 ]
Preorder




About Madeline


Guest Blog by Madeline Ashby - Gynoid Trouble
Madeline Ashby is the author of vN, available July 31 from Angry Robot Books. Her fiction has been published in Nature, FLURB, Escape Pod, and elsewhere. Her non-fiction has appeared at BoingBoing, Creators Project, WorldChanging, io9.com and Tor.com. She works as a foresight consultant in Toronto.


Website : Facebook : Google+ : Twitter
Interview with Madeline Ashby, author of vN and iD -  June 21, 2013Cover Revealed - iD by Madeline Ashby - March 10, 2013Interview with Madeline Ashby - August 1, 2012Guest Blog by Madeline Ashby - Gynoid Trouble

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