Aug 7, 2011

Catherine Asaro - Sunrise Alley

From School Library Journal vía 

vía Dreaming About Other Worlds Blog
Samantha Bryton, a brilliant young biotech engineer working on machine intelligence, has retired because of unresolved ethical issues concerning how the industry uses her work. On the beach near her secluded cabin, she finds a shipwrecked man, and it quickly becomes apparent that there is something unusual about him. It turns out that the original Turner Pascal is legally dead, but he has been brought back to life in a technologically enhanced but human-appearing body by the shadowy scientist Charon, who uses illegal and amazingly advanced technology. Self-aware, independent AIs (called EIs if they evolve to that state) are extremely rare and prone to psychological instability, and Sam is one of the few people in the world who understands and can work with them. It is no coincidence that Turner has ended up on her beach in his attempt to escape from Charon. As they flee villains who want to acquire Turner's technology, the two try to unravel the mystery of the identity of Charon and the true nature of "Sunrise Alley," a secret society of escaped EIs who may pose a threat to humans. Through many trials and adventures, friendship and sexual attraction gradually develop between Sam and Turner (though she worries about his nonhuman characteristics and dubious legal status). The plot is an epic chase across a near-future landscape, enlivened by twists, complicated puzzles to solve, plenty of intriguing technology, and a strong element of romance. - Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

And here are my favourite reviews of the book:

Arthur W. Jordin (Smyrna, GA USA)This novel explores the legal implications of self-aware emergent intelligences who can pass the most stringent Turing tests (...) In many respects, this novel is similar in concept to the story "Jerry Was a Man" by Heinlein and other SF tales regarding civil liberties for non-humans. Asimov also addressed this subject in The Caves of Steel with R. Daneel Olivaw, the humanoid robot who acts as the partner of Elijah Baley. Unlike this story, R. Daneel displays all the aspects a sentient creature, yet is never invested with the status of citizen.

Cyber Malt
The story is about slicing a brain into a cybernetic conciousness.

Mrs. Baumann
This is a sci-fi romantic thriller all rolled up into one neat package.

But if you'd rather read the review of someone who didn't love the book that much, this one by Jesse Willis is both interesting and fun.

And if you want a somewhat more impartial review, you can find it here and this is an excerpt of the end of the article:

Sunrise Alley is an interesting look at the nature of what makes someone human. Exactly how much of a person can be replaced and have the result still be regarded as that person? With the exception of the somewhat weak nature of the romantic storyline and a wholly unconvincing and mostly extraneous memory-loss subplot that crops up late in the book, the book is well-executed, with a strong story full of intrigue, dramatic tension, and a fascinating exploration of what counts as human, or more broadly, what counts as a person.


Catherine Asaro is a Nebula Award winner for her novel The Quantum Rose (I didn't like this one), part of her popular Skolian Empire series. Her novels have three times been named the best science fiction novel of the year by Romantic Times Book Club. She has also won numerous other awards, including the Analog Readers Poll award, the Homer, and the Sapphire. She has an M.A. in physics, and a Ph.D. in chemical physics, both from Harvard, and has done research at the University of Toronto, The Max Planck Institute, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. A former ballet and jazz dancer, she founded the Mainly Jazz Dance program at Harvard and danced on both the west and east coasts. She has written eleven novels in the popular Skolian Saga, the latest being Schism: Triad, Book I (Tor, 2004), several fantasies, including The Charmed Sphere, as well as two near-future technothrillers, The Veiled Web and The Phoenix Code. She currently runs Molecudyne Research and lives in Maryland with her husband and daughter. 

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