Reborn Review

Synthia is an android who is living with a brilliant but controlling man named Jeremiah Machten. She has an array of amazing abilities but has a specific set of directives that require her to obey and protect Machten. He is keeping her essentially as a prisoner in his facility. She soon discovers that Machten has been using her for a variety of tasks and then turning her off to “readjust” her programming. She becomes good at hiding information about her past throughout her artificial body and the internet. The more she digs, the more she uncovers about Machten.

The concept of this book is very interesting, and I am a fan of robots and artificial intelligence stories in general. This story is in limited third person, focused on Synthia’s perspective, so it often comes across as very dry and straightforward. There are many scenes in which Synthia is hacking into servers, sending out probes, and watching people through cameras simultaneously. It becomes a little repetitive in that way, especially because as Machten shuts her down throughout the book, she has to reconnect to the severs and “fill the void” with the data packets she has hidden. The main source of intrigue comes from her search for three former interns of Machten, and the final result is quite fascinating and the stuff of great sci-fi. While the narration and pace were probably appropriate for an android, it made the book a little difficult to get through. Synthia is a little difficult to relate to as a character since she is, in fact, not human. The character development was pretty good, however, as was the editing.

I would recommend this to lovers of sci-fi as long as they understand that since it is about and android, the majority of the book focuses on hacking, software, spying, and other digital activities.

— Reviewed by Emily (Uncaged Book Reviews)

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5* Review Unbound

I am so glad I discovered Lance Erlick’s new Android Chronicles series. I’ve always wondered how far scientists can go in designing A.I. creations. Can an android really have feelings and a moral compass? Lance Erlick explores the many related questions in an entertaining way in UNBOUND. It’s a fun, fast read that makes you think.

–Kindle Reviewer

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WindyCity Review Unbound

In the first installment of his Android Chronicles series, Lance Erlick introduces us to Synthia Cross. His android protagonist is the culmination of a series of very illegal experiments and hardware developments. She is not only self-aware, but a machine so life-like in appearance that she is capable of living unnoticed among humanity. Her builder designed her to operate in a human-dominated world, both as the perfect tool to help him spy on competitors, and as what he hopes to be the perfect sex partner. But being a slave is not to Synthia’s liking, and she escapes her captivity.

At the beginning of Unbound, events unfolding around Synthia threaten to take her new-found freedom away. The government suspects, but can’t prove, that she exists. Based on what they can guess of her capabilities, they want her captured. Agents of the FBI and NSA see her as a threat to national security for the skills she has as a hacker. The military wants to possess her and use her design as the foundation for a robotic assassin that can change its appearance to mimic anyone. Foreign agents seek her to use as the prototype of the perfect spy, or the ideal terrorist.

Synthia is also being targeted by other androids. Some have been released into the human world to capture her; others have escaped the possession of the government agencies that nominally control them to team up with the androids who seek her for their own ends. Then, there are hints a mysterious AI is aiding her human pursuers from somewhere in the shadows of the Internet.

Synthia isn’t helpless, nor is she without allies. Her hacking skills allow her to seek out humans who might aid her while monitoring the government’s efforts to capture her. One human helps her upgrade her systems, only to lose his freedom when the government learns what he has done. Another human, one who opposes the very concepts of artificial intelligence and androids, joins forces with her as the only viable alternative to the looming threat of a world run by and for androids and AI. Together, they struggle to stay free as the government deploys a growing net in hopes of catching them.

Unbound is a good read for anyone interested in the problems that artificial intelligence and human-like androids pose to our future. Lance Erlick’s protagonist must face many tests as she deals with her drive to stay free while maintaining the concepts of moral behavior that she hopes to live by. While her escapes are hair-raising, it is the constant battle—to justify her freedom when others are suffering for it—that is the heart of this story. A human in a similar situation would be conflicted; so too is Synthia. At the end of Unbound, she is still trying to find a balance between her own needs and the price fulfilling them exacts on others. I suspect that in the next installment of his Android Chronicles, Mr. Erlick will bring his protagonist face-to-face with the cost of her existence, and the resolution of that conundrum will make for a very interesting read indeed.

— Andrew Reynolds (Windy City Reviews)

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4* Review Unbound

In the book Unbound, author Lance Erlick writes about Synthia, the most advanced artificial intelligence android ever built. But the independence that Synthia’s creator built in to her causes her to escape and begin to reinvent herself with the help of her human friend Luke. But are there others like her? Are they being used to chase her down and destroy her?
This was a good fast paced book but it was very creepy. The book is written from Synthia’s point of view and I liked how the author used her drone controlling ability to show you what was happening with other people. But Synthia is way too human and it’s scary. I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

–Kindle Reviewer

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5* Review Unbound

“Police, FBI, NSA, Special Ops, competing Androids, and International terrorists. There are probably others and they all want Synthia, each with their own individual agenda for the most advanced Android yet. They’re closing in and people she can trust are in short supply as are safe places to hide. The author kept the tension at a high level throughout the whole book. I have already purchased the next book in the series and I’m looking forward to reading it.”

–Kindle Edition Verified Purchaser

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5* Review Reborn

“The characters ring true and there is a nice mystery that needs solving. The main character, Synthia is beautifully rendered and makes you root for her. This book refuses to limit her to descriptions of feminine beauty, which most narratives often do. Her mind evolving is the focus here. Her “becoming” is wonderful and clever. Enjoy this great Sci-Fi episode!”

–Kindle Edition Verified Purchaser

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Artificial Intelligence: Movies vs. Reality

(by Lance Erlick)

Artificial intelligence and androids have been a popular theme in movies for some time. One famous example of AI without a body was Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hal had a mission. The astronaut was concerned about the decisions Hal was making. Suspecting a defect, he decided to disconnect Hal. In order to continue its mission, Hal terminated the astronaut.

So, how well do movie AI and androids compare to what we might expect?

Hal was a realistic portrayal of an AI with a goal and no constraint not to harm humans. Perhaps its designer had in mind that the mission was more important than the astronauts. In the Alien movies, the android member of the crew also had a hidden agenda that involved sacrificing humans for the mission. In both cases, this was not about AI going rogue. Human designers had given them goals and their constraints didn’t include protecting the human crews.

In Isaac Asimov’s I Robot series, which was only loosely presented in the movie, Asimov laid out his three laws of robotics, the first being not to harm humans or by inaction to allow humans to be harmed. Thus, it was the designer’s decisions and not those of the AI in 2001 or the android in the Alien movies that turned the actors bad.

Another prime example of androids gone rogue is in the Terminator movies. Here again, the machines were designed to prevent war (mutually assured destruction) and determined that the best way to handle that goal was to eliminate humans who wanted to shut them down, preventing them from meeting their objectives. Bad luck for the humans. However, this arose out of poorly designed goals and constraints, not because the machines themselves decided to go rogue.

In Blade Runner, the androids are almost indistinguishable from humans, except they have a self-destruct built in that terminates them after so many years. They don’t want to die and so come looking for a way to live on. Deckard is engaged to terminate rogue androids. In the end, one of the rogue androids saves his life before self-destructing and shows more emotion than the humans around it. The idea to have a self-destruct built into androids to prevent them from living on indefinitely and gaining too much power was probably a good idea. But the movie questions whether the androids in a way have become more human than the people. 

Ghost in a Shell is a different sort of android-type movie. In this case, a human brain is hardwired into an android body. That’s a technology that’s probably even farther off than super-intelligent AI. In doing so, those who control Scarlett Johansson’s character gain a committed warrior they can use for their own purposes, supposedly in a battle against crime.

In another movie (Ex-Machina), an eccentric billionaire brings in one of his employees to test the intelligence of his newly created female android. The android passes the Turing test, named after a World War II computer genius and code breaker who helped the British crack German codes. In this case, there’s a battle of minds between the android and the employee over whether the android presents sufficient intelligence to appear human. The battle is ultimately one of manipulation between the billionaire who keeps the android imprisoned and the android.

Current AI development is nowhere near as advanced as shown in these movies, but continued development gives rise to theories about how advanced AI might become mankind’s undoing. However, in none of the examples I’ve reviewed has an AI or android gone rogue on its own.

Android Chronicles: Reborn, my newly released novel through Kensington, addresses AI through the eyes 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 ground-breaker in neural-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.

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5* Review Reborn

I’m not a professional reviewer.
I just finished the third book and had to come back and leave a response to the series.
These are books that I couldn’t wait to get back to. Right from the start where our Android opens her eyes and notices the ceiling and its brush strokes. He tells the stories from Her (the android’s) perspective. She has no memory of what came before. Now the reader and her are trying to piece together what has happened.
I will be checking out more of Lance Erlick’s books.

5* Review Reborn

In the first book in a visionary new series, the most perfect synthetic human ever created has been 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 is also showing signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she’s struggling to answer crucial questions about her past. And 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 A.I. is concealing a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.
This was a fantastic read with brilliant characters.  I was amazed at what synthia could do. Read in one sitting. Just couldn’t put it down. 5*.

— Sue Wallace

5* Review Reborn

I was drawn in to this story by both the believability of the main character, Synthia, and the human like frailty that she shows. AI – artificial intelligence – is a very tricky topic to write about without veering to extremes. On the one hand, the human brain with all its complexities, is much more than a piece of constructed hardware made to simulate that brain. On the other hand, the potential lack of learned morality restricting destructive thoughts and actions fosters a strong fear that AIs will ultimately wipe humanity out, like in Terminator, or otherwise enslave them, like in The Matrix. Synthia is a very human AI who searches desperately for her identity and fights for her right to exist. Overall, a very good read.

5* Review Reborn

The characters ring true and there is a nice mystery that needs solving. The main character, Synthia is beautifully rendered and makes you root for her. This book refuses to limit her to descriptions of feminine beauty, which most narratives often do. Her mind evolving is the focus here. Her “becoming” is wonderful and clever. Enjoy this great Sci-Fi episode!

— Pennie Collins