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The Life Engineered (World Engineered) Paperback – March 1, 2016
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"J-F. Dubeau’s The Life Engineered is a real page turner for anyone interested in science fiction and good literature. It brought a smile to my face as some passages made me reminisce of my own time spent aboard Galactica as a Raptor pilot!" ― Leah Cairns, Battlestar Galactica and Interstellar
"A different spin on the future of artificial intelligence." ― Geek and Sundry
"Tired of stories of humanity fighting against robot overlords? Read one for the robots. A fascinating investigation of whether even creatures we created could avoid our own foibles and fates." ― Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, Sword & Laser
About the Author
With a deep fascination for science, JF Dubeau's inspiration for writing books comes from the clash of thought and science, ultimately, how this tension will affect the human race. Dubeau currently works as a graphic designer, telling other people's stories in images and brands. When not writing books, in his spare time he writes and illustrates a web comic called The Eldritch Age.
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I enjoyed what I got to see of the setting, along with the premise and some cool set-piece scenes. Maybe we can get a sequel?
More than anything, I found this novel to be unique. The main characters are all robots (known as Capeks) who have been left in charge of the galaxy by humanity after their creators went into hiding for unknown reasons. But they aren't your typical, emotionless robots. These Capeks have personalities as varied and interesting as any humans. The main character, Dagir, takes us on an journey to discover the cause between the first acts of violence in Capek culture. There are epic battles between metal behemoths galore, but at the root of everything is a very intriguing philosophical disagreement.
That's the real strength of this novel. Mr. Dubeau's world-building is top notch, with nothing as interesting as the Nursery where artificial minds are nurtured. It uses Buddhist mythology, birth, rebirth and nirvana as a way to decide when the mind is ready to be released into the universe. I won't say more than that, but trust me it's a fascinating idea.
My one real issue with the novel is that it needed a good editor to trim down the fat. There's a lot of overwriting here. Paragraphs of description that feel redundant because the subtext of the preceding dialogue already told me what was happening, or didn't, but a single line of dialogue would have sufficed. This is already a short read, but that kind of brevity would have made it go by smoother.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed this. For a debut novel, Mr. Dubeau absolutely nailed this. I can only imagine the series getting better!
I wanted to be able to connect with the characters, I really did. There's a fine line one must walk when portraying robots with human tendencies, and while the story describes the characters as completely computerized yet with filtered personalities to make them compatible (and, I figure, relatable) to humans... something just didn't click with me. They didn't seem robot enough, if that can be a complaint.
The other biggest thing I had against this story was the pacing. When I wanted things to move fast because it was a tense moment and a lot was at stake, Dagir opened up an information file and I got a bunch of world-building. When I wanted some explanation as to what was going on, things just carried on as if I knew precisely everything and the information had been given to me and I was expected to understand the meaning of the portrayed actions.
It was a bit confusing, honestly.
This is a brilliantly imagined story. As stated before, the science-geek in me ate up the technological parts of the book, described so well that the impossible seemed very possible. The concept of the intricate Capek culture and "caste" system if you will was absolutely amazing. The action scenes were well-written and drew me in, playing in my mind like I was watching them on the big screen. I loved the epic spaceship Capeks and the mythological naming/class system going on with them (though some of the names I still can't pronounce properly!).
So, my overall opinion on this book: if you like old-school sci-fi movies, you'll like this book. If you enjoy the vast world of space and all the possibilities it holds, you'll enjoy this book. If you love those intense, mind-blowing space battles of Star Wars, you'll love this book.
And if you want to know what it's like from the robot side of things, you need to read this book.