This is the 10th of the 40 books I got for my birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and got through it faster than I expected. The review below contains spoilers (below the cut).

This is a relatively hard SF book that explores ideas around a post-human robot civilisation with themes of slavery, corruption and what it is that makes tick. The plot that does this is like a corkscrew and at times it takes surprising directions.
[DN: link to Charlie’s blog post here.


The key characters in the story are robots (although they mostly avoid that as a term, seeing it as a strong pejorative). They come in lineages sharing a common template personality which is then modified by their experiences. All of the main characters are humanoid generalists and so are of the people in a mask variety.

The basic premise is that they were made to be intelligent slaves, but with the demise of humanity they lack owners, other than the limited companies that some of the overseer robots control. 90% of robot kind is owned by an aristo class, the remainder are self-owned.