The best books with artificial heroes to make you fall in love with science fiction

Gabrielle S. Prendergast Author Of Zero Repeat Forever, Volume 1
By Gabrielle S. Prendergast

The Books I Picked & Why

All Systems Red

By Martha Wells

Book cover of All Systems Red

Why this book?

This short novella introduces you to “one of the most humane portraits of a nonhuman I've ever read”(Annalee Newitz.) Murderbot is the sarcastic, anxious, depressed, neurodivergent, asexual hero you didn’t know you needed in your life. With six books and more coming, Murderbot will hack into your heart and reboot your reading module.

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By Annalee Newitz

Book cover of Autonomous

Why this book?

Though this sci-fi novel has multiple protagonists, it is the robot Paladin who will steal your heart. A military-grade AI with onboard weapons and a human brain for a data core, Paladin’s devotion to his partner, his ambiguous identity, and his penchant for streams of nonsense will entertain and delight you. The multiple subplots in this book give readers plenty to go on as they experience a near-future world that at times seems all too plausible.

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The Wild Robot

By Peter Brown

Book cover of The Wild Robot

Why this book?

There are so few AI-themed sci-fi novels for kids, especially ones that don’t rely on cheap stereotypes. This one, with the charming displaced robot Roz, delivers both heart and entertainment as Roz befriends the animals of a human-uninhabited island. Like most AI-themed books, The Wild Robot explores themes of personhood and identity, while also touching on environmental themes and subtle critiques of capitalism.

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The Plus One

By Sarah Archer

Book cover of The Plus One

Why this book?

If sci-fi is not really your thing, worry not! Charming robots have crept into romance too and as a romance, The Plus One doesn’t disappoint. The robot love interest, Ethan, is everything a woman could look for—attentive, handsome, intelligent. But is he too good to be true? I loved how this book took a sci-fi trope and rewrote it for a romance reader, while still addressing some of the fundamental questions raised by AI, in this instance, not just “what is human?” but also “what is love?”

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By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Book cover of Frankenstein

Why this book?

No list of books about artificial life would be complete with one of the very first – Frankenstein. Most readers are familiar with Frankenstein’s monster from movies and TV, but if you’ve never read the original novel, you must run to your bookstore or library and pick up a copy. The monster’s creator, the titular Dr. Frankenstein, is certainly an intriguing, if desolate character, but it is the monster who steals the show here. His eloquence, determination, and pathos will capture you from the moment he appears on the page. Definitely don’t miss the artificial life that started it all.  

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