Russian Aristocracy, Love and Robots

Android-KareninaThis month we are taking on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina with a robotic twist. Ben H. Winters has taken Tolstoy’s original tale and given it a steampunk, futuristic infusion to bring us Android Karenina. At 539 pages this tale beats out Emma by 100 pages to be our longest novel tackled to date, but as we loved what Winters did with Sense and Sensibility turning it into Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters we could not resist adding this to our reading list.

For those who have read Anna Karenina, you may remember the opening line:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Tolstoy’s novel takes the reader into the lives of its characters with masterful insight into the complications that social pressures and personal doubts can have on relationships.

Andorid Karanina opens with a play on Tolstoy’s opening statement:

“Functioning robots are all alike; every malfunctioning robot malfunctions in its own way.” 

And thus another layer of complex relationships is added with a new sub-character set, the Class III android companions. Anybody who is anybody of note and of age has one, giving personification of a sort to their subconscious. This creates a sense of double characters with the humans dominating and their android companions shadowing. With this also comes a bit of familiar disparity between human and android existence.

I am strongly reminded of Isaac Asimov and his many science fiction tales of human-robotic relations as I have begun reading. There is mention of the “Iron Laws” which govern the limitations of android behavior. All this just draws me in further, urging me to keep reading.

What about you? Are you reading with us? What are your thoughts on android companions? 

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