Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots
December 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is literally about all three of those things but not necessarily all at one time.

The book begins with a look back at early sex toys. The most hard to forget is the sailor’s lady made of leather and fabric and shared around the ship, ahead of the Fleshlight by hundreds of years. It continues by covering automata, mechanical robots programmed to appear spontaneous. Eventually, it arrives at sex dolls, some of which can do robot appearing tricks but are closer to automata. The author explains the difficulty in even defining what a sex robot is. Does it have to appear human? Have at least some artificial intelligence?

I like books about new technology, which is why I decided to read this book. However, I learned more about the current status of sex robots on a one-hour premium cable after hours show. As the author states in the epilogue, it is difficult or impossible to write about a technology that is changing so quickly.

However, that is not to say this book doesn’t have some valuable information and insights. Who knew there are many sex doll brothels around the world? Sometime in 2018, the first “sex robot” brothel will open in Moscow. There are many ethical issues with the idea of sex robots. Should child-sized ones be banned? The UK has already banned childlike sex dolls. What would be the impact on women? Would it encourage objectification, or worse, rape? Would robot use in porn and prostitution result in less sex trafficking and exploitation?

Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is very explicit and so is not recommended to sensitive readers. However, it is thought-provoking. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Bloomsbury Sigma and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

We Robot
July 1st, 2018 by diane92345

We Robot: “The day is coming when they will rival and surpass us in all sorts of fields.”

First seen in 1495 in Da Vinci’s sketches of a mechanical knight, robots are increasingly everywhere. From over 400,000 industrial robots made by one manufacturer to the future of skyscraper window cleaning. Even motion capture surgery and pilotless air taxis are available or soon to be available. Robots are moving across the human landscape like a Kilobot swarm. We Robot focuses on robots at work, in life, at war and in the future. It includes photographs, basic schematics and descriptions for 50 robots all with different functions.

We Robot would be useful for authors or illustrators if robots appear in their work. It is also just interesting how far we have come in the decades since the Jetsons’ Rosie or R2D2 and C3P0 from Star Wars. 4 stars!

Thanks to Quarto/Aurum and NetGalley for a copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Future of Humanity
February 21st, 2018 by diane92345

There are not enough synonyms for fantastic to adequately describe this book. I’ll just stick with awesome and awe-inspiring!

Written in layman’s terms, the Future of Humanity goes from mankind’s move to Mars to its eventual move to a new universe. It discusses what famous science fiction books, television shows and movies got right (surprisingly a lot) and what they got wrong (no fast trips through wormholes or suspended animation in the foreseeable future). The Future of Humanity also contains a brief history of science in tiny easily digestible bites.

The first third of the book talks about what will probably occur by the end of this century. The second part discusses the nut and bolts of how mindless robots, smart artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology will assist the colonization of our universe. It also tells how building a starship could be accomplished (once science solves some mysteries and reduces the price of creating antimatter). The final section discusses long-term travel issues and the changes to Earth and humanity required by the acceleration of the expansion of the universe initially caused by the Big Bang. The pesky problem of extending human life to live long enough to reach a distant planet is described. How humanity may be able to move apart from their physical bodies is investigated. An exploration of the possibilities of extraterrestrials and the string theory of the bubble universe concludes the book.

A enthralling and timely book merging science, pop culture, and intelligent guessing. The Future of Humanity is an intriguing, well-researched look into the future by a beloved scientist. Obviously, the first third is much more likely to occur. As the timeframe lengthens, the odds of prophecy being correct always goes down. However, this is a great peek into mankind’s possible future.

Highly recommended for science-fiction readers and writers. This book contains some great science-based plot ideas. It is also recommended for regular readers who enjoy a great and fact-based story. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Doubleday, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Non-fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: , , ,

July 15th, 2017 by diane92345

If the films Metropolis and The Big Sleep had a baby, it would look just like this book’s plot.

Ray Electromatic, the last robot in a world that used to be full of them, was programmed to be a private investigator…but killing pays better. His handler, a computer named Ada, gives him his work orders. She also wipes his memory each night. His most recent job was saving a mafia Don from a restaurant bloodbath a la The Godfather. Once done, he is offered another job by the Don. Ray is then involved in a mysterious scheme involving car chases, fake identities and plenty of murder.

Originally, I thought this was a parody of 1940’s hard-boiled detectives utilizing a kitschy robot. However, it is much more than that. There is real science fiction world building in this novel. It is as if steampunk continued growing until the mid-1960’s. The setting and atmosphere are equally gritty and consistent. The plot has the same exuberance for the future as steampunk stories do. The mystery was good though the resolution was a bit obvious (at least to someone who has read as many mysteries as I have). I loved that, though the main plot line was solved, there was a subplot left to be resolved in the next book in the series. I can’t wait!

I would recommend this book to hard-boiled detective fans but especially to those who enjoy steampunk thrillers like Leviathan and Kraken.

Thanks to the publisher, Tor Books, and netgalley for an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.


Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: , ,