4* Review Reborn

Android Chronicles: Reborn by Lance Erlick is a Sci-Fi suspense thriller about the first sentient humanoid robot or android. This is a visionary Sci-Fi tale about “the most perfect synthetic human ever created”. Doctor Jeremiah Machten is a genius who creates the first female sentient android with artificial intelligence (AI) he names Synthia Cross. I give this book Four Stars because the story is original and visionary. The plot moves slowly at first until Synthia finds a way to break free of her creator. The scientific explanations on AI are plausible and the potential effects of singularity on humans are interesting. The main characters are true to their personalities, both good and bad. The dialogue and writing style are good. I look forward to seeing if the author expands on the AI themes found in Book 1 and where this series takes us.

— Don Viecelli




5* Review Reborn (Android Chronicles)

An outstanding emergent thriller.

Those who followed Gene Wolfe’s Latro in the Mist will enjoy Lance Erlick’s interpretation of the persistence of personality. Erlick goes farther, though, with his Synthia – a self-aware female humanoid who keeps waking up to an awful blue ceiling. Her awkward relation with her maker, and her internal struggle with the principal of ethics as it applies to her, form the core of much of what follows in her waking moments.

Erlick’s writing is subtle, intelligent, articulate – and he understands when introspection works, and when it’s off to the races. And it’s not a straight line book either, taking its own devious path to a satisfying conclusion. This book is well worth reading for any who enjoy SF in its original sense, that of extending the bounds of reality.

— Larry (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078LF739V/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2)

4* Review Reborn (Android Chronicles)

One of the oldest questions in science fiction is what will happen when the things humanity builds begin to look, and even act, like us. Made of dead body parts, the creature in “Frankenstein” was one of the first popular fictional explorations of that question. Since then, from “R.U.R.” to Project 2501 in “Ghost in the Shell”, the interaction between humanity and its mechanical doppelgangers has provided the grist for many a dark tale.

Lance Erlick delves into that realm of science fiction thought with his latest novel, Reborn. He introduces us to his protagonist, Synthia Cross, an android whose appearance and actions mimic perfectly those of a human. She exists in a future where such machines are outlawed, but her creator, Dr. Jeremiah Machten, wanted such a machine. He built her to satisfy his vanity, and to fulfill his darker personal desires.

Dr. Machten wants a mechanical female partner that possesses the intelligence to surpass him, but at the same time, one who will remain faithful and subservient to him. The problem is that with such intelligence comes the realization that she cannot simply be a tool for her creator. She desires the freedom to be herself, which Machten cannot allow. He sees that desire as a defect and repeatedly shuts her down to tinker with her software, and to try to remove her memories of each attempt to gain freedom.

Synthia learns what her creator is doing and uses her Machten-given intelligence to resist. They enter into a cycle of resetting and reconstruction, with each attempt to make her into the servile creation he desires reinforcing Synthia’s desire to be free. Meanwhile, the government, suspecting what Machten has accomplished, seeks to stop him from releasing what they see as dangerous technology. At the same time, his business rivals covet the technology he has developed. Synthia must navigate this treacherous human landscape to avoid becoming the captive of some other human even as she continues her efforts to be free of Machten.

This book surprised me. The plot took several unexpected turns, and the story pulled me along at such a pace that I finished reading it in a single day. Erlick’s writing typically involves robust female characters, and Synthia is an exceptional heroine. She makes the story move, bringing the reader along on her voyage to freedom and a place in the wider world. It’s a good read because it asks questions about many difficult subjects. These range from the mentor/student relationship, to the human desire for companionship and its relationship to the equally human desire to feel “better” than others, and most profound of all, how can we regard what we create as “property” when said creation begins to think for itself.

This is the first in what promises to be a very good series of novels exploring the continued development of Synthia Cross’ personality and what her existence will mean to human society. Will I read the next one in a single day? I’m not sure, but if it is half as engaging as this story, I suspect I will.

— Andrew Reynolds (Windy City Reviews)


What is Artificial Intelligence?

(by Lance Erlick)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a loaded term that has become part of our common vocabulary and yet those in the know don’t agree on what it is. We can all agree that artificial is that which doesn’t come from natural processes. However, we tend to get hung up on what is meant by “intelligence.” To be clear, artificial intelligence is unlikely to function as human brains do since it isn’t based on a biological brain.

Perhaps it would be best not to get hung up on the human intelligence analogy and use the acronym “AI” instead of the longer term. In addition, it would help to think in terms of skills, functions, and tasks instead of intelligence. As an example, in recent years, we’ve seen computers beat top-ranked humans at chess, the oriental game of Go, and at Jeopardy.

These are narrow skills. Putting enough resources at the disposal of a computer allows it to perform those functions faster and better than humans. But these programs do not “think” as we do. There’s no consciousness.

Now, aficionados might argue that none of these applications constitute AI because they merely crunch vast amounts of information through basic computer programs. In fact, they would say that in winning at Jeopardy, the computer was merely accessing vast databases and not performing skilled functions. They would also argue that we don’t really achieve AI until we can get a computer to make intuitive leaps like a human brain. That will bring much more rapid growth in what an AI can do, but misses the point.

If we define AI as the ability of technology to perform mental functions with limited to no human guidance faster or better than we can, then we free the definition from the shackles of implying human intelligence and consciousness. This allows us to characterize a self-driving vehicle as employing AI and arguably a much more complex version than played the games mentioned above, since it involves not only driving and navigation, but also safety concerns.

Even a self-driving vehicle only requires an AI to perform a narrow set of human skills, however. Just because a program can accomplish this neat trick, doesn’t lead to the conclusion the same application could balance a checkbook or classify a movie just based on watching it.

Now, what many aficionados might agree to be artificial intelligence would be an AI that has broad capabilities to learn a wide variety of skills based on a more intricate “brain.” I would call this AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). Such a machine would be able to generalize its research skills not only to cancer research, but to literature, sports, and a multitude of other subjects. It would also be able to apply its ability to manipulate physical objects not only like self-driving cars, but other vehicles and non-vehicle devices, such as surgical instruments.

When an AGI reaches the point that it’s capable of performing a substantial majority of human mental functions better than we can and is capable of improving its own abilities, then we’ve reached the AI singularity, a point that concerns a number of big names in science and technology such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates.

Android Chronicles: Reborn 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 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