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Autonomous: A Novel Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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"Autonomous is to biotech and AI what Neuromancer was to the Internet."―Neal Stephenson
"Something genuinely and thrillingly new in the naturalistic, subjective, paradoxically humanistic but non-anthropomorphic depiction of bot-POV―and all in the service of vivid, solid storytelling."―William Gibson
"This book is a cyborg. Partly, it's a novel of ideas, about property, the very concept of it, and how our laws and systems about property shape class structure and society, as well as notions of identity, the self, bodies, autonomy at the most fundamental levels, all woven seamlessly into a dense mesh of impressive complexity. Don't let that fool you though. Because wrapped around that is the most badass exoskeleton--a thrilling and sexy story about pirates and their adventures. Newitz has fused these two layers together at the micro- and macro-levels with insight and wit and verbal flair. Moves fast, with frightening intelligence." ―Charles Yu, author of How to Live Sagfely in a Science Fictional Universe
"Annalee Newitz has conjured the rarest, most exciting thing: a future that's truly new ... a terrific novel and a tremendous vision." ―Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
"Holy hell. Autnomous is remarkable." ―Lauren Beukes, bestselling author of Broken Monsters
"Everything you'd hope for from the co-founder of io9 ... Combines the gonzo, corporatized future of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash with the weird sex of Charlie Stross's Saturn's Children; throws in an action hero that's a biohacker version of Bruce Sterling's Leggy Starlitz, and then saturates it with decades of deep involvement with free software hackers, pop culture, and the leading edge of human sexuality." ―Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Walkaway.
More praise for Scatter, Adapt, and Remember:
"Fascinating.... [Newitz is] an excellent writer, with an effortless style.... The inner science geek in all of us will uncover some really cool stuff.... A terrific book that covers an astounding amount of ground in a manageable 300 pages... You will be smarter for it."
―San Francisco Chronicle
"An enormous amount of knowledge is gathered here, and the book accomplishes something almost impossible, being extremely interesting on every single page. A real pleasure to read and think about." ―Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy
"A refreshingly optimistic and well thought out dissection of that perennial worry: the coming apocalypse. While everyone else stridently shouts about the end of days, this book asks and answers a simple question: ‘If it’s so bad, then why are we still alive?’... Newitz inspires us with engaging arguments that our race will keep reaching the end of the world and then keep living through it. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember intimately acquaints the reader with our two-hundred-thousand-year tradition of survival―nothing less than our shared heritage as human beings."―Daniel H. Wilson, author of Robopocalypse and Amped
About the Author
Annalee Newitz is an American journalist, editor, and author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship from MIT, and has written for Popular Science, Wired, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. She also founded the science fiction website io9 and served as Editor-in-Chief from 2008–2015, and subsequently edited Gizmodo. As of 2016, she is Tech Culture Editor at the technology site Ars Technica. Autonomous is Annalee's first novel.
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Jack has decided to try to find a cure for this addiction. At the same time, she's being hunted by a government agent and his robot companion whose job it is to kill her for patent infringement. Jack enlists the help of a former lover and co-pirate who has gone 'straight' and now runs a legal lab. She has also acquired a human slave, because while slavery is technically illegal, lifetime 'indentures' are not.
The other half of this story is the tale of that agent and his bot, who develop a very strange sexual relationship, given that the robot is made of metal, has no genitalia and is described as only marginally humanoid. Bots have human brains and are the property of their builders (in this case the military) until they can earn enough money to 'buy' their freedom.
OK, so I've just scratched the surface of the story, and really that's the problem I have with it. There's just too much going on here. It jumps around between the two stories but never gets deeply enough into either one to make sense. None of the characters are fleshed out enough to be sympathetic. Everyone is primarily interested in having sex (same-sex relationships, cross-sex relationships, master-slave relationships, and human-machine relationships) and the relationships themselves don't seem to make a lot of sense. Some of it is over the line into 'this is just creepy', like the scene in which the human climbs on the robot's back and becomes aroused by shooting the guns embedded in its arms. I'm not a prude, but this made even me think, 'eeeeewwww'.
This could really have been a couple of books. The world-building needs a lot of fleshing out and the stories themselves need to concentrate more on character-building than on casual sex. As it stands, it just didn't 'click' for me.
Where do I even start with this book? I got about 2/3rds of the way through this book before it reached a point of unbelievability that bordered on the ridiculous. At no point is AI discussed in a meaningful way - it seems as if this is simply a story exploring sexuality and gender issues that is given a sci-fi veneer. The only identity the characters in the book seem to possess is a sexual one. There doesn't really seem to be much character development happening here - the protagonist has some sort of belief against corporations creating medicine, but no clear reason she feels so strongly for this. The antagonists consist of a robot and a generic "cia agent" style badass guy, neither of which went through any sort of significant character development throughout the first 2/3rds of the book.
The overall world is broken down into two distinct factions "the pharma corporations" and the "freelancers/pirates". There is not much moral gray area in the nuance between these two factions, with the corporations being portrayed as evil and the freelancers being portrayed as good. This worked for Star Wars because that was a lot of cool action sequences throughout the movies, in this book there are a few of these, but they are not very well written. A more nuanced discussion of why people were fighting and what each side was striving towards would have made this book much more interesting.
Writing sexual scenes in books is incredibly difficult to pull off, and the scenes in this book completely derail any sort of interest I had in the novel. The "romance" between the robot and their partner was confusing and unrealistic. For no apparently reason the robot's partner feels sexual attraction to something that basically consists of a talking, walking refrigerator with wings and guns inside of it. As soon as he finds out it has a female brain inside of it, he has sex with it. The main character also has sex with several other characters in the book and it doesn't really add anything to the story and seemed gratuitous.
This is a spoiler>>>
The part that caused me to stop reading the book was when the robot has "sex" with her partner for the first time. In a confusing turn of events, as soon as the robot mentions it has a female brain inside of it, her male partner has sex with it. The entire narration was very confusing because this is a large robot that apparently is made of some kind of metal and there is no clear reason for the man in the situation to be sexually attracted to it. The worst part came when they start discussing if the robot can have an orgasm and the robot simply replies something along the lines of "oh hey I have this program that simulates an orgasm that I can run!" and her partner then asks "can I watch you run the program?". I have suspended my disbelief to believe a lot of insane things in numerous sci-fi and fantasy novels, but this one was a bridge too far.