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Human Sister by [Bainbridge, Jim]
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Human Sister Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Length: 338 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


Jim Bainbridge's novel, Human Sister, is a fast-paced, exciting, and beautifully-written account of an all-too-possible, near-future world in which the ethics and choices of humanity are put to the test. The novel is deceptively easy reading I say deceptive because the plot is intense and the writing smooth but underneath, the book is anchored by complex philosophical and ethical questions, complex characters, and the power of new and innovative ideas. Human Sister takes science fiction into literary territory that it too seldom visits: a place where well-developed characters emerge with sparkling originality through sensuous language and imagery. --Laura Pritchett, author and winner of the PEN USA Award, the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and the WILLA Fiction Prize

Human Sister proves Jim Bainbridge a writer gifted with far-reaching intelligence, unbounded imagination, and a most caring and empathetic soul. Love and family reign here, threatened as they are by charging science, fluxing societal norms, and an intricate drama of wayward global politics. --Mark Wisniewski, winner of a Pushcart Prize and the Tobias Wolff Award

Jim Bainbridge has crafted a dark, chilling, future thriller that will keep you up late into the night until the final searing page. Set in a time when androids battle humans for control, Human Sister is ultimately about the most human of themes: love, loyalty, family, betrayal, sacrifice; and it has as its heroine one of the most original, brave and fascinating young women to live in literature. If you're looking for something you haven t seen before, Human Sister is it. --Paulette Bates Alden, author of Feeding the Eagles and Crossing the Moon

About the Author

Jim Bainbridge is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a National Science Foundation Fellowship recipient for graduate studies at UC Berkeley, from which he received a PhD Candidate Degree in mathematics. He has received numerous awards for his poetry and short stories, which have appeared in more than 40 literary journals in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Product Details

  • File Size: 753 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Silverthought Press (March 27, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 27, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007P9993I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,134 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mary Shelley's paradigm-busting 1818 novel, Frankenstein, is subtitled "The New Prometheus," referencing the theme of man's constant striving to overreach himself and play god, which always seems to bring disastrous results. Prometheus was chained to a rock by Zeus to have his liver pecked out by an eagle. Victor Frankenstein's monster murdered his creator's young bride and brother. Then the monster kills the man who gave him life before lumbering off in self-loathing to the North Pole to destroy himself in flame.

The first known writing of Prometheus dates to about 800 B.C. It was made more famous by Aeschylus in his play, Prometheus Bound, circa 500 B.C. - and so onto Shelley's Frankenstein in the 19th century - and all the way up to today in many incarnations, including this marvelous novel, HUMAN SISTER.

In the ancient past, we needed the archetype of Prometheus to deal with the spiritual schism between ourselves and the transcendent gods. But since the dawn of rational, empirical, materialistic science, we still grasp at Prometheus, but now it's to help us deal with the relationship between man and science. It's painfully obvious that many of our brilliant advances has turned out to be agonizing double-edged swords. Think about nuclear power. It was supposed to usher in a new age of prosperity and unlimited energy - but it has also pushed us to the edge of total annihilation.

So this scenario is played out yet again by JIM BAINBRIDGE in Human Sister, except this time the Frankenstein monsters are androids - and also bioroids - robots that are getting ever closer in make-up to human beings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's been a long time since I've read a book that was difficult to put down - Human Sister was intriguing until the end. The book's plot is driven alternating narratives of the two major characters, Sara Jensen and First Brother. The result is a complexity of character development that is often lacking in books of similar length. The new concepts and ideas introduced may be overwhelming to some; however, the fascinating interaction of characters and poetic imagery is what drove me to finish the book.

The story is set in the not too distant future where the advent of artificial intelligence is threatened by the religious and political zeitgeist of a time not too different from our own. The plot unfolds to reveal the tale of a young girl struggling to protect those she loves--and ultimately the human race.

The reader is left in the dark until the end, when the fate of humanity is revealed. This is a philosophical and dark story of how the human herd can be led astray in the search of a better world. I have always been partial toward stories that take on catastrophic themes. Bainbridge's vision of the future is frightening, but the story of Sara that made the book worthwhile. I am giving this book 5 stars, it's the best Speculative Fiction/SF story I've read years.
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Let me just put it this way: Human Sister is challenging. It is challenging in its ideas, in its themes, and in its style. The payoff, however, is huge, and makes Bainbridge's long discussions of neuroscience and warfare and ethics worthwhile.

Sara is not the child her parents wanted. As some of the world's leading android scientists, they spend their time developing and understanding androids, not human children; Sara is instead raised and schooled by her grandfather, the man responsible for conceiving the first android. But life in her grandfather's bubble becomes lonely, so Sara's parents create an android named First Brother. But young Sara is disturbed by First Brother's emotional distance and insensitivity, and cannot bond with him.

Soon the androids come under political attack: the American religious right decries them as unnatural, as monstrosities, and they are criminalized. After Sara's parents and their android children flee to Canada, Sara's grandfather begins a new, top-secret project: Michael, an android who is part organic and part Sentiren, who will learn and grow from mental infancy to adulthood much as a human would. And Sara is tasked with raising him-of being his mother, his sister, and best friend, a monumental task to manage alongside her burgeoning attraction to her cousin Elio.

There are so many twists and curves and nuances in Bainbridge's Human Sister that it's quite impossible to capture it--even simply to capture it's premise--in a few sentences. Sara's narrative is framed as a reflection, a manuscript she is writing down while mysteriously sequestered in an underwater haven with Michael. This framework taints every forward step of Sara's life with questions.
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Sara has been raised by her family, and her grandfather in particular, to teach empathy to androids in order to complete their consciousness. The "brothers" that have been brought to being to that point, had been tutored by her to learn to feel, but had failed. When submitted to the Turing Test, the famous test of consciousness in artificial intelligence, the brothers failed. This time, grandfather has crafter an android using her cells and has found a way to link her brain to his in order to teach him empathy. Meanwhile, the humans find the androids to be a real threat, and under the banner of religion, seek to end their lives.

This is a very weird book. I hated the first twenty pages, and at times found myself talking to myself during later portions. For Grandfather in teaching empathy to androids, has himself showed precious little in training his granddaughter to be an uber-human. His use of a torture machine to teach her to withstand perception of pain and his clinical introduction of human sexuality both chilled me immensely. However I found myself captivated nonetheless. The characters persisted in shining off the page, even when I didnt want them to do so.

This book has tackled the big questions, and did a decent job of it. Its characters earnestly believe that it "was foolish to think humans were the pinnacle of the wonderful process of of evolution." Their mistake I think, was in considering themselves to be worthy templates for this stage. With the exception of Sara and her lover Elio, the humans seem to get more frosty as they attempt to humanize the machines. In the end, a creature born in our own image will be prone to the same imperfections that we in fact own.

This is a complex work, and I can only scratch the surface of the messages contained in the book. I would still call it weird in many places, but a good weird that is worth reading.
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