reV: The Third Machine Dynasty

Angry Robot. Jul. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780857665386. pap. $15.99. sf ;.
Ashleigh and Tiffany have won big—a free trip to Hammerburg—an immersive wonderland where every woman’s fantasy comes true. The artificial life forms (vN) that supply the pleasure and endless story lines at Hammerburg dutifully comply until contaminated food overrides built-in fail safes. Now the government wants answers. Investigators question the jailed creator of the vN, Pastor LeMarque. LeMarque designed the vN decades ago to serve his New Eden congregation but industry quickly stepped in and mass-produced a new servant class. Portia, and her granddaughter Amy, members of a rebellious clan of vN, have a different future in mind. Portia, who wants to eradicate the greedy humans, and Amy, who hopes to find a peaceful life for vN on Mars, find themselves fighting each other.
VERDICT Ashby’s third in the “Machine Dynasty” series (after iD) begins as a satirical mashup of horror, romance, and sf, and evolves into a complicated story about ethics, compassion, and the possibility of starting over after generations of violence and abuse. A thoughtful choice for those who enjoy genre-bending, boundary-pushing sf.

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