Robots, AI and more fun reads for Cyber Monday


Vancouver Public Library and V.I.A. have teamed up to help you discover new reads, hidden book gems and surprising literary finds. Check back every couple of weeks for the latest reading recommendations from the experts at Vancouver’s library.

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This is a different take on Cyber Monday. Give your wallet a rest from online shopping and imagine a world ruled by robots, artificial intelligence and the Internet. To help you get started, VPL’s reading experts have just the list of top reads:

The Age of EmThe Age of Em by Robin Hanson

With an academic background in physics, philosophy, artificial intelligence, social science, economics and more, Robin Hanson theorizes what the world would look like ruled by robots. Hanson looks at the evolution of humans to robots known as “ems” – or robots running an emulation of a human brain.

AutonomousAutonomous by Annalee Newitz

Jack steals patents from expensive drug makers, and produces cheap versions for people who can’t afford them. When she unintentionally cuts a drug that makes people addicted to work, a military agent and a robot come after her. What transpires is a great book about biotechnology and corporate ethics.

The Clockwork DynastyThe Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson

June uncovers a mechanical doll with a hidden secret message suggesting that automatons lived in the past and even walk among us today. As the plot unfolds, June learns a lot about these complex automatons and their unique gift to the world.

The Book of PhoenixThe Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

This is the story of a hybrid named Phoenix, who was not born, but grown in a laboratory. When Phoenix witnesses a friend’s suicide, she decides to escape and evade her captors. This book is filled with action and thrills, but also evokes tones of colonization and racism.

The Dark NetThe Dark Net by Benjamin Percy

An ancient darkness is emerging in the midst of the dark activities in the far reaches of the web. These demons are trying to spread into the real world, and it’s up to a gang of misfits to band together to stop them.

ElysiumElysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett

This narrative intertwines a series of characters and events in an apocalyptic world, where a computer program constantly shifts time and place. The story ultimately follows two characters in this myriad of changes, and explores complex questions about love and identity.

FlashmobFlashmob by Christopher Farnsworth

John Smith is a telepathic trouble shooter. Smith has to navigate a deadly Internet scandal that has materialized through a website called Down Vote – a horrific site that uses social media to pick off its victims in a customized hit-list of the most hated on the net.

Life 3.0Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

MIT professor Max Tegmark explores how artificial intelligence will affect the world. He begins with a fictional story about AI that can learn and adapt to various industrial situations. Interesting technological questions arise, where humans may end up being re-purposed.

Looking for GroupLooking for Group by Alexis Hall

Drew and Kit are two university students, who meet in an online game and fall for each other’s avatar. When Drew finds out Kit is a guy in real life, he isn’t as bothered as much as he thought he would be. Now, they must navigate the struggles of maintaining their relationship online and offline.

So You Want to Be a RobotSo You Want to Be a Robot by A. Merc Rustad

This book is a creative vision that captures the curiosity of readers in 21 short stories about robots and artificial intelligence. The myriad of characters have depth and humanity, and the themes swing among hope, love and dystopia.

Time ShareTime Share by Patrick Keller and Dan McDaid

In this graphic novel, Ollie Finch goes on an adventure, jumping through time and parallel universes. He suddenly finds himself in the middle of a disaster that could destroy the multiverse. Can he and his merry band of time-travelling misfits save their timeline before it’s too late?

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