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Reviews: Vn and iD by Madeline Ashby


vN
Author:  Madeline Ashby
Series:  The First Machine Dynasty 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot, July 31, 2012  (US/Canada/eBook)
     August 2, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
List Price:  $12.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857662620 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher
Cover Art: Martin Bland

Reviews: Vn and iD by Madeline Ashby
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 ]



iD
Author:  Madeline Ashby
Series:  The First Machine Dynasty 2
Publisher:  Angry Robot, June 25, 2013 (US/Can/eBook)
     July 4, 2013 (UK Print)
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $14.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857663115 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher
Cover Art: Martin Bland

Reviews: Vn and iD by Madeline Ashby
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 ]



Melanie's Thoughts

I decided to review the first two books of The First Machine Dynasty, vN and iD, together as I read them back to back. I thought I better get my thoughts down while they were still fresh in my mind and before I read too many books in between.

vN tells the story of Amy who is a human in almost every way but for that the fact she isn't human. She is a von Neumann robot (vN) that can do almost anything a human can do, even replicate. When we first meet Amy she is just a 5 year old girl, in a loving home with a human father and a vN mother. Amy's parents have been starving her so that she remains as a child so that she can experience life as any other child would. It is possible in Ashby's technologically advanced world to maintain the age/size of a vN by carefully controlling their special robotic diet. But Amy isn't just a normal 5 year old. At her kindergarten graduation her psychotic grandmother shows up to try to kill Amy's mother. In order to save her mother Amy ends up eating her grandmother and in the process immediately grows to adult size. The experience leaves her with part of her grandmother inside her brain and pyscho granny isn't happy on the sidelines. Amy finds herself on the run after Granny Portia going on a killing rampage. Portia managed to break the failsafe that stops vNs from harming humans and now Amy has inherited this dysfunction. Everyone wants her captured before she contaminates any other VN. Its not long before Amy finds a saviour in another vN, Javier and together they look for somewhere, anywhere they can be free.

iD is Javier's story and he is on a mission...a mission to find Amy. Without giving too much away Javier makes a grave mistake which harms Amy and he is desperate to make things right. His journey takes him up and down the country, as well as, in and out of danger. We learn more about the vN and the failsafe throughout Javier's travels which gives you a better insight into them and how humanity have been treating this robotic race.

So, what did I think? I think Ashby has created an interesting race with the vN robots and the world that they live in. I can't say that I enjoyed reading either book however. Ashby is fearless in her portrayal of paedophiles who have created their own religion and who own vN that they starve to keep them as children...for obvious reasons. The failsafe kept the young vN from fighting back and therefore, they live in a state of perpetual abuse. The fact that this was known and accepted by the rest of humanity was a bit of a hard pill to swallow and made the books, especially iD, difficult to read. The children weren't the only ones to be abused as even as adults the vN suffer at the hands of humanity which relies heavily on the failsafe which protects them and allows them to treat the vN however they wish.

I thought that both books jumped around too much with both Amy and Javier being rescued at the last minute time and time again. Also, there were whole scenes where I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. On the rare occasion that this happens I will go back and re-read but in the case of these books I couldn't quite face it. I made the assumption that Ashby would clear everything up by the end but this wasn't always the case. I will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of science fiction (books not movies or TV) but there are a few exceptions. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case for Ashby's, First Machine Dynasty. I can't really stomach the paedophilia theme which was prevalent throughout both novels, even if some of them get their comeuppance in the end. This series is dark and violent and not exactly what I was expecting. Perhaps, had there been a slightly more cohesive plot then I may have enjoyed them more.  If you are a big science fiction fan then don't be put off by this review as you may miss out on your new favourite series even though it was not my cup of tea.


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.


What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7

What are the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Authors up to in 2013?  This is the seventh in a series of posts.

See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.



Ania Ahlborn

The Shuddering
47North, June 18, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 294 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
Ryan Adler and his twin sister, Jane, spent their happiest childhood days at their parents’ mountain Colorado cabin—until divorce tore their family apart. Now, with the house about to be sold, the Adler twins gather with their closest friends for one last snowboarding-filled holiday. While commitment-phobic Ryan gazes longingly at Lauren, wondering if his playboy days are over, Jane’s hopes of reconciling with her old boyfriend evaporate when he brings along his new fiancée. As drama builds among the friends, something lurks in the forest, watching the cabin, growing ever bolder as the snow falls…and hunger rises.

After a blizzard leaves the group stranded, the true test of their love and loyalty begins as the hideous creatures outside close in, one bloody attack at a time. Now Ryan, Jane, and their friends must fight—tooth and nail, bullet and blade—for their lives. Or else surrender to unspeakable deaths in the darkened woods.




Madeline Ashby

iD
Machine Dynasty 2
Angry Robot, June 25, 2013 (US/Can Print / eBook); July 4, 2013 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
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 ]




Steve Bein

Year of the Demon
Fated Blades 2
Roc Trade, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
A MASK OF DESTRUCTION

Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.

The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up....




Alexa Egan

Shadow's Curse
Imnada Brotherhood 2
Pocket Books, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
The second novel in the dark and sexy Imnada Brotherhood trilogy featuring shape- shifters in Regency-era England.

Suffering under a horrible curse and renounced by his clan, the Imnada shape-shifter, David St. Leger, stalks the London nights in the form of a large black wolf, channeling his desperate rage on thieves and murderers. But when he’s captured by the very woman he sought to rescue, he’s thrown into the magical and dangerous world of the Other—half human, half-Fey, and one of the Imnada’s ancient enemies.

Forced by her half-brother to use her gift of necromancy as a money-making scheme, Callista Hawthorne wants only to flee to her aunt in Scotland where she’ll be safe. Considering David her last hope, she offers him a deal—freedom in exchange for his protection on the long journey north.

Now in a race for their lives, Other and Imnada must put aside centuries of animosity and work together if they are to overcome the dark forces intent on stopping them before they reach safety. For Callista is far more powerful than she knows, and with her help and her love, David may finally be able to break the curse of the Imnada…




Max Gladstone

Two Serpents Rise
Craft Sequence 2
Tor Books, October 29, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
Shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc—casual gambler and professional risk manager—to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father—the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists—has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire…and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.


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!


Reviews: Vn and iD by Madeline AshbyInterview with Madeline Ashby, author of vN and iD -  June 21, 2013What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7Cover Revealed - iD by Madeline Ashby - March 10, 2013

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