“In Ashby’s expert hands vN cuts a painful incision into the emotional complexity of oppression in our society, and the way love can feed the worst kinds of hate. vN is a powerful novel and a fine exemplar of exactly the perspectives chauvinist SF so often stifles.”
“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, author of Blindsight
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.
“Will AIs be objects, or people? Caught between the category of human and everything else, we can’t think about the very real entities that inhabit — and will inhabit — the excluded middle. Madeline Ashby’s done more than just think about that territory; she’s made it her home. Person; object; we need new words for things that are neither — and in vN, Ashby provides them.”
“[I]f you have been missing the kind of thought-provoking-yet-exciting stories about artificial creatures that only come along once in a while, vN is well worth grabbing. It’s disturbing and sometimes upsetting — but the ending is a giant insane weird thrill that makes the whole thing pay off…a strikingly fresh work of mind-expanding science fiction.”
“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, Boing Boing
“vN is a great and fast read, and with it’s many Easter egg references covering everything from Microsoft (aah bluescreens) to Dick, it is a proper treasure trove for the geek inside.”
“With an excellent grasp of her subject matter and much to say within the genre, Ashby looks set to become one of the most important new voices in this particular branch of SF, and I for one shall be awaiting her next book with great interest. Download to your system at the earliest opportunity.”
–The British Fantasy Society
Angry Robot, world, August 2012
Nominated for a Locus Award for Best First Novel 2013