Posts Tagged ‘Robot’

The entire ensemble that Angry Robot Books put together in marketing The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a thing of true beauty to any lover of books. The cover is intriguing, “A tale of Love, Loss and Robots” is a fascinating tagline, and even the synopsis on the back entices the reader, thus leading me to choose The Mad Scientist’s Daughter over all my other books waiting to be read.

When reading and reviewing books the tendency to compare them frequently comes into mind, even when perhaps the books or characters are from completely different worlds and settings.  For the first three quarters of The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, I can’t shake the comparison and mental attachment of Cassandra Rose Clarke’s Cat to that of Jenny from Forest Gump. Cat starts out as this innocent young wildflower and metamorphosed into something completely unexpected once she breaks free from her cocoon and heads off to college.

Just like Jenny, Cat comes into contact with an assortment of men, none of which can compare to her perfect Finn nor will they ever because Finn isn’t human. She encounters drugs and eventually finds her vice in cigarettes. Cat marries a rich and powerful man, Richard, but buried deep inside her, Cat is still in love with Finn and ultimately it is this love that destroys her marriage. Cat is, for the majority of the story, a very tragic heroine filled with a powerful and sometimes overwhelming confusion of emotions.

Cat also feels like somewhat of a hippie for her time, while the majority of civilization seems to be moving in the direction of pro-technology and anti-robot rights. Cat is on the exact opposite path in nearly all aspects of her life.

The shocker for me in The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was that I wasn’t expecting any sex scenes in this book and when it first occurred I was actually kind of shocked initially. I then found them somewhat amusing after my early surprise wore off. For the prudish of us, while maybe not tastefully written, Clarke does a wonderful job in my eyes of toeing the proverbial line between what my limited knowledge tells me is the boundaries of erotica and romance.

The ultimate disappointment for me was my own imagination running away with the conflict. I had my heart set on some unholy lovers’ union of robot and human and then the ensuing apocalyptic battle between them and the rest of the world. In the end the conflict, which in a way is similar to my imagined one, mostly remains solely on Cat trying to fight her emotions of loving and not loving Finn. There is no real war, only the one inside her.

The world, the writing, everything is top-notch and what you would expect it to be from an author writing under the Angry Robot regime. I just wish the novel had gone a little farther and done a bit more in certain areas to increase the conflict.

Readers and reviewers are going to absolutely love The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. 7.5 Liams out of 10, Cassandra Rose Clarke has proven she can write with the best of them in this one and I expect this was just a taste of what is to come from her.

Tons of thanks as always to Angry Robot and Darren Turpin for providing me with these review copies.

You can find out more about The Mad Scientist’s Daughter and Cassandra Rose Clarke here.

If authors of outstanding novels could be compared to baseball players mashing mind-blowing homeruns, then Madeline Ashby would test positive for a high dosage of synthetic steroids and robot growth hormone.  A captivating conglomeration of Stephen Spielberg’s A.I., a little mix of I, Robot, and even The Matrix seem to infiltrate their way into vN, Ashby’s first novel with Angry Robot Publishing.

A “young” von Neumann (vN) robot named Amy, lives in a healthy, happy, family environment with her human dad and robot mom but all that changes in a blink of an eye when granny decides to show up. After wholly devouring her grandmother, Amy unknowingly is infected with her crazed grandmother stuck inside her. Suddenly, innocent Amy isn’t so innocent after all and “… the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed..,” which makes Amy target number one in literally everyone’s eyes. Thrust together with an unscrupulous vN known as Javier, Amy is forcefully shoved down into the rabbit hole and has little hope of coming out unscathed.

Swivels and pivots in the story keep readers on their toes till the very end and even then there is no guessing in which direction this book could end. Though not my normal read, the ideologies for both the vN robots and the organic humans were played out admirably and realistically with varying and conflicting viewpoints.

The technique for authors known as world building can make or break a book. Another book reviewer, Shadowhawk, touches on the vital importance of the creation of a rich world in his review of The Hammer and The Blade by Paul Kemp. Ashby mirrors her very own creation, Amy, within her games she plays in the book, both of them designing vivid and fantastical creations down to the most miniscule detail with this under-appreciated skill which sometimes defines the difference between a good author and great author.  The garbage dump, the destroyed city of Cascadia, and the fabled vN safe-haven of Mecha are all beautifully designed places within an extremely developed world.

The underlying tones of pedophilia and vN abuse by their organic creators play a crucial role behind otherwise ulterior motives. Also, the fact that a  “global mega-church named New Eden Ministries, Inc,” was the prime investor for creating the von Neumann-type robots in an attempt to give companions to those left behind after the Rapture makes me smile inside at its paradox.

The writer inside me wishes the ending of this wonderful novel would have traversed across different paths, but in its conclusion Ashby had another, more astonishing finish you won’t see coming. It was close to a perfect 5 out of 5, but I found a few actions from my favorite character, Javier, to be contradictory to his current set path in life. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 Liams.

Here is the link to learn more about Madeline Ashby and her book, vN – The First Machine Dynasty.

(vN Robot Liam is trying to eat some synthetic keyboard food)