Hello, hello and welcome to the latest Robot Round-Up, showcasing everything AR-related that we’ve spotted online this week. Lots to tell you about this week, so without further ado:

vN by Madeline Ashby, cover Martin Bland/SpyroteknikMadeline Ashby‘s astonishing debut novel vN: The First Machine Dynasty is Out Now and has been reviewed all over the place this week. Brace for bullet-points…

• Cory Doctorow reviewed vN for the mighty BoingBoing, concluding: “Ashby’s debut is a fantastic adventure story that carries a sly philosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. It is often profound, and it is never boring.”
• Stefan Raets, writing for the equally mighty Tor.com, had many good things to say about the book, including this comment on character development: “What’s really fascinating about vN is the way it portrays a fairly complex future almost exclusively from the limited perspective of an immature and confused non-human character. There’s a future history hidden in these pages, but you have to glimpse it through eyes that can’t just can’t process all of it yet. You experience Amy’s growth while she learns the true nature of the world she somehow ended up in.” You can read an excerpt from vN at Tor.com as well.
• Mieneke at A Fantastical Librarian said: “There is so much to say about vN, from the characters to the basic premise, to the writing and the power of the story, it’s hard to begin … Madeline Ashby’s debut novel blew my mind and I can’t imagine where she’ll go next.”
• Over at AESciFi, the Canadian Science Fiction Review, Paul Jarvey really got to grips with the underlying themes and concepts of the novel and concluded his review by saying: “It is a rare author who can write a fast-paced adventure without losing sight of the dilemmas, debates, morality and emotion that mark good storytelling. vN is nothing less. If you pick it up (and I recommend you do), expect to find a world thick with meaning and humour, elegantly packaged in an eminently readable adventure.”
• Sarah at That Bookish Girl found herself drawn to vN‘s dark side: “There is absolutely no sugar coating and let me tell you, some psychotic stuff happens. Right front the beginning of the book I was shocked by the events that unfolded; which was refreshing.”
• Cathy, writing for The Functional Nerds had the following to say: “There was honestly nothing about the book I disliked; I adored it all – from the bizarre beginning, through all the action, horror, and gut-wrenching twists, right until the very end … In my opinion, vN is one of the best and most original robot books since Asimov.”
Weirdmage said: “As a whole, this is a remarkably good debut novel. There’s action, quiet contemplation, twists and turns … There is so much that is great in this novel, that I don’t want to single out any element. Everything in it comes together to create what very well could be the best Science fiction novel I read this year.”
• Pablocheesecake at The Eloquent Page said: “vN is a striking debut, one part tech thriller and one part adult fairy story … The best sci-fi not only entertains but also educates and informs, and vN manages all three effortlessly.”

Madeline was also the guest of honour on the 113th episode of the Functional Nerds Podcast and was interviewed by The Debut Review on the subject of Writing in general and to The Qwillery about the writing of vN in particular.

The Corpse-Rat King, by Lee BattersbyLee Battersby’s forthcoming fantasy debut The Corpse-Rat King was reviewed with huge enthusiasm and great gusto by Melinda of Melinda’s Bibliophile Blog, who said: “This book was outstanding! The author, Lee Battersby should be proud to have written such an amazing masterpiece of imagination, sarcasm and fantastic inventiveness.”

Lee has been talking to people again, too, with interviews by Greg at Darkscrybe and Laurisa at A Thousand Wrongs, who’s also giving away a copy of the book. The Corpse-Rat King made it onto the Booksmugglers’ Radar as well. Is it on yours yet?

Chuck Wendig‘s Blackbirds has been reviewed by The Romanceaholic, who listed a few of the book’s best features: “Gritty, dark, disgusting, incredible, wild, imaginative, sadistic, brutal, and all over amazing. I would totally go see this in the theater if some intrepid director decided to adapt it for the screen.” Also by Trent at Pulp 300, who said: “[C]ome follow Miriam along the lonely highways and sad diners as she deals with death and redemption. Her story is worth hearing. You’ll want more.” And Jon at Seeking the New Earth said: “There’s a lot of gore in this book. After all, it’s all about death, and Wendig doesn’t try to make death pretty. He shows all the horror that the end of life brings. I’ll admit: it’s not my thing, but I couldn’t stop reading. The prose is magnetic, drawing the attention. I had to know what happened next.”

Mockingbird, by Chuck WendigAnd speaking of more Miriam, there’s just a few short weeks to go until the release of the next instalment in her story, Mockingbird. Early reviews are starting to appear online, including this one from Ed Fortune at Starburst Magazine, who said: “This book is a treat for the horror fan, filled with cinematic moments and genuine spookiness … Fans of American Gothic and The Lost Room will find themselves on familiar ground and will lap this up.”

Paul S. Kemp‘s recently-published sword & sorcery saga The Hammer and the Blade was reviewed by Elisha at Litstack, who summed things up quite neatly: “Strongly reminiscent of Fritz Leiber, The Hammer and the Blade is classic sword and sorcery.” Can’t say fairer than that.

Erik at I Will Read Books enjoyed Trent Jamieson‘s recently released Night’s Engines, the conclusion to the Nightbound Land duology: “Night’s Engines is the ending Roil deserves. I had a good time reading it, and they are two very good books you should read.”

Matthew HughesThe Damned Busters has been reviewed by A.D. Warr at Pathetic Fallacy, who said: “[I]t’s a fant­astic book, and I look for­ward to read­ing the next” That would be Costume Not Included, out now and available wherever books are sold.

There’s a review of The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar in the 41st issue of Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction. (available to download in a selection of electronic formats).

There’s a new review for one of our very first books, Kaaron Warren‘s Slights, over at Ilona’s World, where Ilona says: “For those fans of psychological horror who can handle disturbing reads and shocking imagery, Slights is highly recommended.”

Over at John Anealio’s blog, Chris F. Holm reveals his five favourite musical artists of all time.

And finally… webcomic XKCD asks “What if there was a Robot Apocalypse?” and concludes that, on the whole, robots are too dumb and ineffectual to do very much damage. All good propaganda, as far as we’re concerned. You meat-sacks just keep lulling yourselves into that nice, cozy, false sense of security…

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