Autonomous

Annalee Newitz is the creator of the science fiction blog io9 (https://io9.gizmodo.com/). Her outstanding debut novel, Autonomous, takes place in 2144, an age when sentient robots can gain their autonomy after serving their humans  for a certain number of years.  Paladin is a military-service robot indentured to Eliasz, an agent  for the IPC (International Property Coalition) charged with tracking down the source of a pirated drug which is addicting users to the point of insanity. The source is pharmaceutical giant Zaxy, whose development of this dangerous substance must be exposed.  The “pirate” is Judith “Jack” Chen, a biological engineer who travels the seas in her submarine lab, liberating drug shipments in order to reverse-engineer and distribute them out to “the people” at a lower cost than the patent holder’s.  She inadvertently has distributed Zaxy’s bad product, and must try to recover the shipments or create a cure to protect her reputation.  So, plenty of relentless pursuit going on here as well as well-drawn characters (in particular the robots with feelings).  Newitz uses her platform to examine issues endemic to human-machine interaction and the ethics of big-pharma, leaving us with a realistic unresolved ending. I really enjoyed this book; it’s an exciting and worthwhile read.

 

AutonomousBy Newitz, Annalee, 1969- author.

The author "takes some of today's key social and technical issues (the nature of artificial intelligence, the notion of property and ownership) and wraps them in a compelling, original story line acted out by memorable characters". (LJ Review)

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