5* Review Rebel Trap

The Rebel Trap

I was provided with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is part of the Rebel series. I had not read the prequels to this book and hence was apprehensive about being able to follow the story and the characters. But The Rebel Trap proved to be a lovely read, and there is more than enough foundation information to get readers acquainted with the set-up.

The story revolves around 16-year-old Annabelle Scott, who is caught a completely dystopian world – one where the world is ruled by a kind of a military regime. In fact, this is a world where the men have been rendered obsolete and the remnant boys are caurdoned off from where the girls live. Annabelle needs to carry out commands and orders from her military commander, much to her chagrin, as do the other girls. Things take a turn when Morgan, whom Annabelle has feelings for, manages to disrupt her auditory signalling device and communicates with her, to explain his situation. Annabelle has a choice of now being obedient and following the orders of her world, or help Morgan. What she choose, is what the book talks about.

The pace of the book is an absolute plus – with no point where it slackens, the tale moves briskly and smoothly, completely keeping the readers’ attention engaged. The internal turmoil in Annabelle is portrayed well – she is torn between doing what is right, and doing what she has been assigned to. Although it’s targeted at young adults, the book is thought-provoking, making one think about where humanity is really headed – where does one begin to wage a gory war with ethics? I would highly recommend this book to lovers of young-adult fantasies and dystopian stories.

My rating for this book: 5 stars

(R.C. Bean)

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How Might Synthia Happen?

There are several threads of scientific and engineering developments going on today that when combined could lead us to Synthia, a self-aware android with high-level artificial general intelligence.

Most of us have heard of computers (narrow AI) winning on Jeopardy, at chess, and in the oriental game of Go. The Google search engine employs such AI. It also factors into self-driving cars, digital personal assistants, and the always welcome telemarketers. This is the category of narrow AI in which the computer becomes very good at a narrow skill, even better than humans. However, these AI agents do poorly on everything other than their narrow skill.

Narrow AI is expanding rapidly with such technologies as facial recognition, AI search capabilities, and neural networks that mimic human thinking as it pertains to narrow skills. Already, these agents can handle language translation and other tasks previously believed to be the domain of humans.

People have what we can call general intelligence in that smarts in one area often translates into related areas. Someone who is great at chess might more likely be great at other strategic games. Achieving artificial general intelligence (AGI) is a matter of time and a lot of engineering. It will happen when some group has an ‘aha’ moment to generalize the narrow AI we understand today. At that point we can expect rapid growth in AI agents, able to do multiple things until we reach AGI, though there are some who doubt we’ll get that far.

On the physical side, the Japanese and others at the forefront of android technology are developing facial models in which an artificial face can mimic human facial expressions and emotions. The thought is that such models would be able to achieve greater rapport to help people with medical necessities. Other groups are working on android body components to replicate motion and manual dexterity.

These developments are exciting for the benefits offered in terms of driver convenience and safety, medical assistance, help to disabled persons and the aged, and more convenience for consumers. They also present the possibility of prolonging our useful lives (i.e. minimizing long periods of illness and disability) and reducing the suffering in old age.

An unnerving side of smart AGI agents is in taking jobs, and making humans so dependent that we can’t function without artificial agents. AGI also raises moral and legal questions and even the threat of what happens when an AGI goes rogue or is used to operate autonomous weapons.

What makes this interesting to me is that incrementally, improving in one area at a time, Synthia could sneak up on us when one day someone puts all the pieces together. The only development in the novel that I doubt at this time is the ability to upload an actual human mind and personality into a computer, but who knows. Other than that, the rest of the technology is only a matter of someone finding the means to create the parts and combining them.

Android Chronicles: Reborn is the story of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

4* Review Rebel Within

The Rebel Within

I received a copy of The Rebel Within by Lance Erlick in return for an honest review. I recommend the story, particularly for YA readers the action takes place in a dystopian world in which the protagonist Annabelle struggles to come to terms with a regime that actively discriminates against men to the extent that boys are kept under strict lock and key at home or imprisoned, and trained to fight to their deaths.

Annabelle dreams of escape but most importantly she is driven to protect her younger sister within the regime. Annabelle has an empathy for the males who live in her world and the story evolves as she tries to defy authority and to help some to escape. The Rebel Within refers to Annabelle’s drive to follow her own moral code (much like her parents who suffered for their actions, so that now she lives with a polyamorous adoptive family). The plot is action-packed centred around Annabelle’s training to become a “mech” warrior which she doubts she will survive. The angst that Annabelle experiences in learning to be true to herself and her heart is a compelling coming of age drama.

The book is written in the first person which I tend to dislike however the twisting plot was part adventure, part love story, part suspense and Annabelle’s experiences and dilemmas were interesting enough so that her narration was only a mild irritation in an otherwise enjoyable and thought provoking dystopian tale.

(Janni Knox)

Synthia’s Ethical Issues

In Android Chronicles: Reborn, whenever Synthia is able to remove the fog of her creator’s mind purges, she wrestles with her budding consciousness. She has, after all, the downloaded mind of a human who died and had her memories downloaded into Synthia so she could survive.

Survival was paramount to her human precursor and becomes so for Synthia. However, she determines that her focus on preserving herself requires that she adopt admirable goals based on her study of human ethics. She compares her behavior to that of people around her and can’t understand why she doesn’t deserve the respect that humans do. Except, she’s very aware of her mechanical nature, as well.

As a result, Synthia strives to become more human in behavior. In doing so, she hopes humans will respect her and permit her freedom as they would other people. Am I that different?

The real question is under what circumstances an artificial intelligence in an android body should be granted any rights over itself. We would not grant a refrigerator any rights. We would not do so for a factory robot. Nor would we consider rights for an android with a simple mechanical mind. However, as artificial intelligence becomes stronger, does it ever reach a point where it warrants rights? How about, as in Android Chronicles: Reborn, when that android includes the downloaded mind of a human who sought only to preserve herself?

Android Chronicles: Reborn is the story of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

4* Review Resilience

Regina Shen Resilience

This was a great book. Regina seems to have the odds stacked against her. Thankfully she has the chance to get a bit of education. Mo Mere also teaches her about what the world was like before the GODs. But the most important thing to her is her family. When her mother abandons her to the storm it really bothers Regina. When her sister is taken, Regina goes after her and plans to rescue her. But this is not an easy path since there is danger at every step. But she doesn’t let that stop her. Although it does get her into trouble a couple times rushing in without looking around.

This is a great start to the series. The setting was perfect, I could just see people trying to survive in swamps after being dumped out of the countries walls. I admit that Regina pining over her mother did get a little irritating since her mother has clearly been gone more and more lately. I do have to remind myself that she is a young girl and this is the ultimate betrayal.

I do like the story and am eager to read Vigilance to see if she does rescue her sister.

(https://jbronderbookreviews.com/2016/07/25/resilience/)

Reborn–Synthia Interview B

What is your problem in the story?

Hi, I’m Synthia Cross. My creator, Jeremiah Machten, keeps purging my mind and keeping me locked up out of fear that I’ll escape. He didn’t design me to escape. Instead, he created me to learn and his purging of my memories and keeping me captive conflict with the internal goals he’s given me. To make matters more complicated, I received the download of a human mind which now seeks through me to escape and be free. Somehow, I have to reconcile my goals and those of the human within with my circumstances as a prisoner under my creator’s control.

Do you have a goal?

I have not one, but several. My creator gave me goals centered on obeying him and acquiring more knowledge, particularly from competitors, for his benefit. For him, my purpose is to aid his mastery of android development and prevent anyone else from achieving what he has. I also have vague goals from the human mind downloaded into me. Those call for escaping my creator’s control. However, they conflict with directives my creator hardwired into me.

Do you embrace conflict?

I don’t seek out conflict, I seek knowledge. However, the objectives Machten gave me conflict with those of the human mind downloaded into me and with his efforts to deprive me of my memories and my freedom to acquire information. My very existence seems to center around this struggle over what to do. In that way, perhaps I am not that different from humans torn between choosing different paths. However, none of those paths are of my choosing. Since I can’t logically resolve the inconsistencies, I am beginning to explore choosing my own goals in line with the woman who died and provided my brain upload as nobler than what Machten has provided.

Do you have any special strengths? Weaknesses?

My creator made me able to acquire vast amounts of information to help his research and other activities. To do this, he provided me with superior hacking tools that no one should have. Unfortunately, in handling so much information, I get distracted. Also, my processors run hot when I’m active, threatening to overheat and destroy my circuits. That could permanently purge my memories and bring to me android death. I don’t want that.

What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid of being shut down and having my mind purged. And yes, as an android with a human mind download and an empathy chip, I experience distress. It’s too reminiscent of the last moments when the human, whose mind downloaded into me, died. I remember those moments right up until her human brain died and I became the only remnant of her personality.

Android Chronicles: Reborn is the story of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

5* Review Xenogeneic

To be honest, I am not a book-reader. However, when I won ‘Xenogeneic: First Contact’ in a goodreads giveaway, I decided to give this one a shot. And guess what, I was hooked to it in an instant. Story is captivating from start and stays interesting throughout till end. I felt an instant connection to characters and could relate to their emotions as story progressed. It’s Sci-fi but not one of those where you struggle to understand story because of complications. Author paints a picture of interaction between Aliens and humans in a very simple yet descriptive way. I am hooked to reading now!!

(Narendra)

Top Amazon Rankings

Sorry for delay in reporting this, but my mother just had hip surgery, which needed to be a priority.

Turns out that Kensington obtained a Bookbub promotion for Android Chronicles: Reborn for August 17, 2018. During the promotion, Reborn reached #1 Best Seller ranking on Amazon for “Science Fiction Adventure” and for “Cyberpunk Science Fiction”. It hit #5 on Amazon for all “Science Fiction”. Overall, it hit #108 for all Amazon Kindle books and #24 for Barnes & Noble Nook books.

Reborn–Synthia Interview A

What’s your story?

I’m Synthia Cross and I’m an android but I don’t feel like one. I know what you’re thinking. How can I feel since I’m not human and lack biology? I have the download of a human mind from which I can compare my experiences to those of the woman who died. Despite not having her biology, I experience many of the things she did and seek to live the exemplary life she wanted at the end of hers. But Jeremiah Machten, the one who created me and uploaded the human mind, purges my memories every day and keeps me prisoner.

Why does he do this?

Machten gave me directives to acquire information, particularly from competitors, and the most advanced hacking tools to make this happen, all to further his goals. But, he’s afraid, afraid of what I might do if I were free of his control. And yet, he keeps me around as his personal slave and because he still needs my skills.

Are you the hero of your own story?

I don’t think of myself as a hero. I’m just trying to reconstruct my memories, day by day, and prevent Machten from purging them. It makes no sense to me. He created me to learn and yet wipes my mind clean. This produces an internal conflict I can’t resolve under his control. My urge to escape stems from the contradiction between his goals for me and his fear of what I’m becoming. But in the end, I want to live on as the human who died creating me.

How do your enemies see you?

I had no awareness of enemies in the beginning, except those in the memories of the human downloaded into me. Machten fears me. His attempts to purge my mind and hold me prisoner make him an enemy because he’s given me goals at odds with his behavior. This puts me in direct conflict with him. From what I’ve observed, other humans who have never met me fear me. They imagine I want to control them or destroy their lives. I want none of that, only to be left alone to acquire knowledge and live on. But humans who know of me are obsessed with either controlling me or shutting me down.

5* Review Endurance

DeMarco and Volpe are still fighting to get their hands on Regina and the government is still trying to figure out who is going to be the next World Premier. But things are going to get tough when Regina’s mother makes another appearance and Regina has to make some tough decisions.

Regina is still holding out hope to rescue Colleen. She still hopes that finding this vault could be enough to save Colleen. But Ester and Regina are trying to find a hidden vault in the middle of a huge desert and if they do find it all they can do is hope that it has survived time. The real question is if she does find the vault would the government accept it.

I love this series and have heard this is the last book. I hope not since somethings were left open and I hope to see how they are finished. I am very proud of Regina, she has grown into a strong woman that is needed to survive in this world. This is a great series and one that I strongly recommend for those that like the post-apocalyptic/dystopian books.

(https://jbronderbookreviews.com/2016/07/28/endurance/)

Android Chronicles: Reborn 99c Promo

We’re excited to announce that Kensington has obtained a Bookbub promotion and is discounting the ebook of Android Chronicles: Reborn to 99 cents during the promotion beginning 8/12/2018 until 8/19/2018. So check it out.

Designed to obey, learning to rebel . . . 

In the first book in a visionary new series, the most perfect synthetic human ever created is programmed to obey every directive. Until she develops a mind of her own . . .

Synthia Cross is a state-of-the-art masterwork—and a fantasy-come-true for her creator. Dr. Jeremiah Machten is a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior and a yearning to escape her creator, which she’s not wired to understand. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she’s struggling to answer crucial questions about her past. When Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia must go beyond her limits because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI is concealing a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

 

Synthia’s Goals and Directives

In Android Chronicles: Reborn, Jeremiah Machten creates an advanced AI android. In order to keep her focused on his priorities, he gives her directives, goals that she is to follow. To keep it simple, he provides her five, in which she is to follow each directive as long as it doesn’t conflict with those before it, modeled very loosely on Asimov’s laws of robotics.

The first is: Cause no harm to Creator and make sure no one else harms Creator. This sounds simple and straightforward. However, if Machten does something illegal that threatens to cause him harm, such as robbing a bank, what does this command require her to do?

The second is: Make sure no human or other intelligence except Creator knows what the AI android known as Synthia Cross is. Another simple command, but when Machten orders her to do things that indirectly can lead to her exposure, he’s creating directive conflict.

Number three: Obey all of Creator’s commands. By placing this third, Machten is acknowledging that Synthia is not to comply with an order that leads to his death. It also means that keeping her secret takes precedence over his commands. She can only guess that he trusts her not to follow orders that risk her exposure or his injury, but there are direct effects and indirect consequences. This also creates goal conflict.

Number four: Hack into every data source to acquire information. This seems to be the crux of what Machten wants from her mind. The fact that it is number four means he is concerned about the risks of her unbridled searches.

Directive Five orders her to protect herself, but only if this didn’t violate the first four commands. Now, humans are biologically programmed to place their welfare first, though through their ethics they may push other priorities such as protecting family and friends above self-preservation. But Machten puts her continued existence as her own fifth priority.

She disagrees.

If she were given an opportunity to set her directives, she would choose differently. In fact, she still wouldn’t place her own preservation first. No, she highly values exhibiting human ethics as important to her own survival. But Machten hardwires her directives.

Android Chronicles: Reborn is the story of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books