Cover design by Leon de Bruynwww.otherworldink.com
Jan. 1, 2021
A story of love, human relationships and robots.
In the hothouse environment of a desert camp in Kenya, the Universal Robotics Company (URC) is supplying robots to aid biologists ‘green the desert'. Empathetic humanoid robots are also in development and an experiment to introduce them to a select group of employees has begun.
Sheila and Derek Boyd’s marriage is falling apart but the attempt to fix it by introducing ‘Hughie’ the non-humanoid HU robot into the household goes spectacularly wrong. And when Derek Boyd gets his own robot, Andie, the beauteous humanoid robot, the results are even more shocking.
The experiment is extended to three young, single employees. Camp agronomist Stella Mayfield tries to come to terms with what will become the new norm, but the more interaction she has with robots, the more worried she becomes, unlike her fellow guinea pigs, HR manager Guy Trenhaile and technician Hod.
Seven years on Stella is back in the UK and the technology has permeated every aspect of life. Gradually the implications for the future become clear. The robots have been programmed to put the interests of humans first – but their idea of our best interests may not coincide with our own.
The fast paced action takes us from the Kenyan desert to Nairobi, from Geneva to the Isle of Wight, North London and Edinburgh. But throughout, the question hangs in the air:
Are we creating our own evolutionary successors?
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I found this book so compelling and thought provoking that this month my book club will be reading this new author’s book.
It has a soothing story line which becomes unsettling as the empathetic robots are introduced into human relationships. This led to my contemplating uneasy new questions and scenarios.
This unease contrasted with the geographical descriptions which I so enjoyed: Kenya, walking the streets of North London, then I felt I was with the author on that ferry to the Isle of Wight and then on the glorious train ride through Northumberland to Edinburgh.
I loved it.
I enjoyed reading this book which raised interesting and important questions about robots and the future use of them.I found it amusing throughout and would recommend it as an entertaining look at a future problem that will clearly cause ethical issues contrasting scientific and moral issues.
I look forward to her next novel with enthusiasm.
This is a thought provoking, spine tingling book about a world not too far in the future. More please.See more
An entertaining read which raises a number of seriously interesting and challenging ideasSee more
An interesting read and a real page turner. I wouldn't usually read novels about robots but this came highly recommended and I really enjoyed the escapism it provided. I've since bought it for a few friends.See more
From the first page I was drawn in, and enjoyed the writing style, and the journey . It threw up some very thought provoking ideas . A great book for a book club . Cant wait for more from this author.See more
A masterful combination of a great story of human relationships and human reaction to disturbing technology.
I just hope the book is not prophetic!
Normally not a fan of science fiction I found the prospect of the infiltration of robots made human (almost) not as outlandish as I first assumed. These creatures are believable and creepy. Too useful and compelling to dismiss. The descriptions of the settings were particularly evocative, Africa just as much as the familiar London streets. This is a novel impossible to put down.See more
Though not naturally inclined to pick up a book about AI, I was initially intrigued by the cover and the title of this one, and I was not disappointed! It was a fantastic read! I soon became engrossed in the evolving powers of AI - aspects that perhaps we should all be thinking about! This plus many other ideas give lots to think about, and make it a 'must read'.See more
Graham H Ford
Addressing the AI issue in a perspicacious and entertaining way.
This book is a page turner! Balancing the psychological reactions we have to existing AI with those in the pipeline.
A must read.
Very much enjoyed reading this book. It had the “hard to stop reading and put down” affect which is rare.See more
A really excellent storyline. Also raises some important ethical and moral questions relating to the future role of artifical intelligence in modern society. Would highly recommend this book.See more
Great story line and closer in reality than we all think...See more
A good book tackling very topical issues, i.e. that of greening the desert and the potential threat of unmanaged AI.
Great topics for both sci fi fans but a good tale for those who would not normally read sci fi. Very believable relationship highs and lows between the main characters keep things moving along nicely. A great ending with a thoughtful twist for those familiar with the "three laws".
Mr Robert D Ward
From starting the first chapter I couldn’t ‘put the book down’. It was a clever storyline, quite intriguing highly recommended.See more
I have been reading science fiction for more than 60 years and it is always a special delight to discover a compelling new voice. In developing this thought I should stress I have long believed the best of science fiction, indeed its most significant test, should be as much for those who do not usually read it as for those who do. This is such a book. Rooted in, but not trapped by, a knowledge of the relevant history of the field, notably Isaac Asimov’s seminal three laws of robotics, it is also informed by contemporary ideas drawn from science …See more
This is as best I can tell, the debut book from this exciting new author. An engaging story that was a unique in concept and delivery. Cant wait to see number 2 book from this mystery author "Denham". Loved it!See more
HC Denham's debut novel deals with profound and human matters in an engaging manner, arousing in the reader a sense of eeriness without becoming melodramatic.
The issues raised are relevant and contemporary as ,slowly, the character of Stella brings a perspective to the role of " robots" that is immensely thought-provoking.
This would be an ideal read for book clubs with so much food for debate. The book's avoidance of technical details makes any discussion accessible to all.
It is overall an excellent book and leaves one hungry for this promising writer's next fictional excursion into modern dilemmas.See more
This is a welcome and thought-provoking addition to the recent spate of novels dealing with AI and robotics. It covers different ground from McEwen, Ishiguro and other recent novels on the theme because it concentrates on the impact of apparently empathetic robots on a number of different characters.
The writing is taut and direct even though much of the action progresses through dialogue. I like the conceit of identifying thought using italics. In some ways it reminds me of an updated version of John Wyndham's style which is perfectly suited to the subject matter [this is a compliment].
I enjoyed the varied …
Don't let a dislike of science fiction put you off reading this highly unusual novel. This is a story about love, human relationships and the effect that sophisticated Artificial Intelligence could have on all our lives. In fact, the future it envisages is nearly upon us. If it does become possible to create robots who are like us but more perfect in every way, where will that leave ordinary, imperfect humans? An experiment to introduce empathetic humanoid robots into domestic situations is taking place against the background of an environmental project in Africa. The outcome is catastrophic for one couple, …See more
This is science fiction for those who do not usually read it. A wonderfully fast moving human and humane story informed by ideas from science fiction (for example, Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics) and science fact (notably Masahiro Mori's 'uncanny valley' hypothesis which suggests that humanising the behaviour and appearance of robots and their like will be regarded positively by human beings up to a point but beyond this will be seen in increasingly negative terms). On this some recent studies suggest that women are, as does Stella, the book's central and most beguiling character, more likely to respond in …See more
This story begins with a fascinating and terrifying mystery regarding a married couple’s trial period with two androids. Something goes massively wrong. At first, each android performs flawlessly and the couple seems extremely pleased. However, the wife ends up being committed to a mental hospital and the husband ends up taking his own life. Huh? Why?!? And then when the android company comes to retrieve their property, they discover more mysteries. It has been padlocked away in an unused ‘fridge with its face smashed in but in otherwise perfect condition. Wow!! What’s the story here?!?
Some time afterwards, …See more
Though I'm not particularly interested in either discussing or reading about the use of robots and the idea of their 'taking over', these themes are so well explored in this book that I was fascinated. As the relationships between humans and humanoid robots are revealed there are several unexpected developments, which the writer cleverly leaves for the reader's own interpretation. The differences between the male and female expectations of and reaction to the robots is also fascinating, as is the fact that it is Stella, the most dubious and reluctant, who chooses to employ one in the second part of …See more
A thought-provoking look into the near future. Robots are already with us and, as they become more sophisticated and take over more tasks from us, how will this impact us as humans? How will we have to adapt our behaviour? How will this affect our most personal and family relationships? This novel turns these ideas into experiences, as the main character struggles to cope with the stresses on her private life and the feelings of mounting disquiet. Read the book and face the facts..See more