Books where a main character is an AI
April 27, 2018 5:21 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for books which feature intelegent artifacts - AIs - as a main character. Think the Culture novels or William Gibson. I'm interested in how they relate to each other and to humans or other natural life forms. I am aware of this AskMe but this is a slightly different focus and it was ten years ago.
posted by shothotbot to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If human mind reconstructed with AI meets your definition We Are Legion (We are Bob) is about a Von Neuman probe built off the mind of a man who was put in cryogenic storage.
posted by Uncle at 5:29 PM on April 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think that’s the premise of the supporting mysterious character in the YA novel Tebels
posted by tilde at 5:31 PM on April 27, 2018

Ancillary Justice fits this requirement.
posted by janell at 5:33 PM on April 27, 2018 [23 favorites]

2nding Ancillary Justice (and the other two books in that series). It won the three major Sci Fi awards a few years ago and is very focused on your stated interest.
posted by amtho at 5:34 PM on April 27, 2018 [6 favorites]

Silently and Very Fast, by Catherynne M Valente. It's a novella, and like all the best novellas, once I started reading it I couldn't stop until I was done. Amazing. Loved it so much.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:40 PM on April 27, 2018

The Murderbot Diaries (All Systems Red, Rogue Protocol, etc) by Martha Wells
posted by dancing_angel at 5:44 PM on April 27, 2018 [5 favorites]

I am currently rereading the Cassandra Kresnov series about an android trying to fit into human society and waiting for the next book in Martha Wells' new Murderbot series. Melissa Scott's Dreamships and Dreaming Metal are about emerging AI.
posted by Botanizer at 5:51 PM on April 27, 2018

A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
posted by poxandplague at 5:57 PM on April 27, 2018 [5 favorites]

He, She, and It, by Marge Piercy.
posted by the_blizz at 6:00 PM on April 27, 2018 [6 favorites]

Also, the Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.
posted by the_blizz at 6:04 PM on April 27, 2018

Silver Metal Lover, by Tanith Lee.
posted by LaBellaStella at 6:23 PM on April 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

Would Asimov's "Robot" novels count? While AIs were not the main character, they certainly were central characters.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:16 PM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

+1 to Ancillary Justice, A Close and Common Orbit, The Murderbot Diaries. Really great novels in addition to fitting your interest!
posted by serelliya at 8:00 PM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Greg Egan's Diaspora is 20 years old, but relevant to your interests.
posted by mumkin at 8:04 PM on April 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

A Working Theroy of Love, by Scott Hutchins
posted by JonJacky at 8:08 PM on April 27, 2018

Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow and the Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are both YA books/series with AIs as primary characters.
posted by wsquared at 8:12 PM on April 27, 2018

The second and third books in the Ender's Game series feature the AI Jane.
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:10 PM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, is phenomenal.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:18 PM on April 27, 2018

Queen of Angels by Greg Bear
posted by ananci at 10:06 PM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Altered Carbon (Richard K Morgan has an AI hotel as a central, but not main character. I have raved about it here before, but now realise it's a kinda ripoff of Gibson.

Not a book afaik but Dark Star is an AI spaceship film where the AI becomes suicidal, weird but watchable.

Daniel Wilson's never Robopocalypse has an AI that (as far as I recall) with seconds of going aware, knows climate change will destroy Earth, and that human Pop. needs to fall, it's second act is gardening the planet. Hard sci-fi by a robotocist.
posted by unearthed at 11:01 PM on April 27, 2018

I suspect you will really like The Crystal Trilogy.
posted by value of information at 11:06 PM on April 27, 2018

Turing Test by E.M. Foner, about sentimental AIs who inspect Earth to see if it qualifies for membership in an intergalactic union, is amusing light reading.

I will also second the suggestions above for Ancillary Justice, A Close and Common Orbit, and All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries. (Also, a new book in the Murderbot series is coming out in May.)
posted by Umami Dearest at 11:38 PM on April 27, 2018

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Heinlein
posted by shanek at 1:03 AM on April 28, 2018

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
posted by A Bad Catholic at 1:58 AM on April 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Donna Andrews has a mystery series where the detective is an AI. The first is You've Got Murder.

Not sure if McCaffrey's The Ship Who series would fit - the main characters are cyborgs rather than AIs, though they do have AI-like capabilities.
posted by paduasoy at 4:14 AM on April 28, 2018

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:26 AM on April 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fool's War by Sarah Zettel
posted by henuani at 11:09 AM on April 28, 2018

Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos.
posted by ZipRibbons at 2:49 PM on April 28, 2018

I think the anthology Otherness by David Brin contains a short story where the main character is an artificially intelligent spaceship. IIRC the story was written in response to a challenge to write something set in the empty space between galaxies. I think the AI fills the empty time by creating imagined characters and then watching this scenario play out for some extremely long length of time, and then maybe the ship encounters someone or something? It's been like 20 years since I read it and don't remember much. I'm sure I'm getting some of the details wrong.
posted by compartment at 6:12 PM on April 28, 2018

In case you're open to short stories, here are a few:

Greg Egan's "Singleton" touches on social questions (like why someone would choose to create an AI in the first place) as well as philosophical ones (like what it means for such a being to have "free will").

"The Island" by Peter Watts features a shipboard AI as the antagonist, and much of the story involves it and its crew attempting to manipulate one another.

And Roger Zelazny's "For a Breath I Tarry" is a beautifully written story about an AI that wants to understand the meaning of being human.
posted by teraflop at 10:25 PM on April 28, 2018

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:06 AM on April 29, 2018

"After On" by Rob Ried fits the bill nicely. A good part of the story focuses on how the first AI comes awake, and how it interacts with people. I'll also second "We Are Legion (We are Bob) " mentioned din the first response.
posted by nalyd at 5:59 PM on May 1, 2018

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