Friday, August 24, 2018

Five books that explore the secret lives of robots

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog T.W. O'Brien tagged five recent books that explore the secret lives of robots, including:
The first two books in Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series, Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem, were between them nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. The trilogy (which concluded with this year’s Revenant Gun) is high level science fiction, with ships and weapons running on math and science so advanced they border on magic.

In the series, servitors—mobile machine intelligences—are almost beneath notice in a society whose rulers see even humans as little more than cogs in the machinery. Captain Kel Cheris seems to be the only human who views servitors as people, mourning their loss as much as her human soldiers, and asking, not ordering, servitors to take an unaccustomed role in an upcoming battle. The servitors value her consideration and respect, and debate how much they should help her. But they worry that revealing Cheris’ connection with them could endanger her, and themselves—since the servitors’ safety “[relies] on the humans thinking of them as well-trained furniture.”

The servitors’ loyalty to Cheris saves her in the climax of Ninefox Gambit, during which her enemy greatly underestimates the “furniture.” The servitors play a crucial role in Raven Stratagem as well. I have yet to read Revenant Gun, but in an interview on this blog, Lee discusses the role of the servitors across the trilogy, and discusses the decision to make a servitor a viewpoint character in the last book, which has definitely moved it higher in my to-be-read pile—I would really like to see what a servitor’s life looks like from the inside.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Revenant Gun.

My Book, The Movie: Ninefox Gambit.

--Marshal Zeringue