Posted in angry robot, Hard science fiction, i science fiction, New and improved, New weird fiction, politics, reviews, Science fiction, Urban fantasy

Review of Madeleine Ashy’s ( Beware my failsafe might break; there may be spoilers to both book 1 & 2 of this series)

Madeline Ashby ID ISBN: 9780857663108 R.R.P.: £8.99

I read Madeline Ashby’s ‘VN’ when it came out in 2012 and I really admired this work. I liked Ashby’s representation of Amy;  An android, with a fatal flaw (major improvement), who must face the gremlins in her own programing and the reason for her creation, while escaping individuals who would destroy her.   Upon reading this work, I concluded that Ashby was a writer to watch.  This year Angry Robot kindly gave me an advance copy of,  the sequel to VN, ID.[1]  While the first book in the series focused on a juvenile VN Amy, this book focuses on her ‘partner; Javier.  We follow his attempts to make amends for a fatal mistake and to rescue Amy. During his journey, we learn more about his background.  We learn of his ‘ father’ and his time in Jail.  In addition,  this book gives us a fascinating glimpse of the world that surrounds our main characters.

The book begins with a young scientist, who is suffering from PTSD, Co opted to work for a religious group who are creating a being who will ‘comfort’ those sinners who are left behind following the ‘second coming’. These beings would be programmed to be obedient to their human ‘companions’.  In accordance with Asimov’s rules of Robotics[2],  they have a fail safe mechanism that ensures that; A)  they will not allow any harm to come to humans B) will not harm humans C) will obey humans (especially their sexual demands).  Ashby uses the character Javier, who has a functioning failsafe, to show how these commands affect the lives of the VN. In particular,  we are forced to question the concept of ‘sexual consent’ in a world in which beings are programmed to automatically consent to human demands.  This book successfully builds on earlier work but also works as a stand alone novel.  The author gives you enough of the last book to keep you informed while avoiding the infamous info dump.


[1] of course, this review will be as impartial as possible

[2] The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or Three Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround“, although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws are:

  1. [2]A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. [2]A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. [2]A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

[2](Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s