10 Innovative Sci-Fi Novels About Robots and AI

Saga Press, publisher of SB Divya’s MACHINEHOOD.

Author S.B. Divya was an AI and data science engineer for over two decades. Her early cutting edge research on algorithms—and being a woman in STEM in the early 90s—has heavily informed her debut novel Machinehood. This technothriller is as prescient as Neuromancer and as current as Bad Blood, sharply critiquing capitalism, Big Pharma, and human exceptionalism. It tells the story of a terror group that gains power amid a turbulent conflict between human and AI workers. Ray Kurzweil called the book “ingenious, thought-provoking and hopeful,” and a starred PW review says simply, “Readers will be blown away.”

Love robots and AI? Then you’ll want to add all ten of these sci-fi books about robots and AI to your TBR list. The novels on this list are included because they all offer unique and innovative perspectives on robots and/or artificial intelligence. Even though every book on this list is so different, they all imagine worlds where artificial intelligence and robots feel like an incredibly real and plausible part of our future.

Speak by Louisa Hall

Speak is a novel that covers the story of many narrators over the span of centuries. But what ties their stories together? You guessed it. Artificial Intelligence. This novel explores the creation of Artificial Intelligence and imagines a world where AI has essentially replace the need for human interaction. Louisa Hall’s novel thoughtfully examines the very human need for connection, communication, and understanding.

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan book cover

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me imagines an alternate 1980s London where Alan Turing has achieved a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Synthetic humans have become a reality. When Charlie comes into money, the first thing he does is buy one of the first batch of synthetic humans, Adam. Charlie, with the help of his friend Miranda (who he is desperately in love with), designs Adam’s personality. It doesn’t take long for a strange love triangle to form between Charlie, Miranda, and Adam, who is in many ways more perfectly human than any human could hope to be.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun is the first novel from Kazuo Ishiguro since the author was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Klara is an Artificial Friend who observes life around her from her place in the store. As Klara observes the behaviors of the people who come in and out of the store to browse and the people she sees walking down the street, she remains hopeful that one day someone will come in and choose to buy her.

The Mother Code cover

The Mother Code by Carole Stivers

What if a robot was the only mother you knew? In Carole Stivers’s The Mother Code, that is the reality for many children who are genetically engineered and incubated, birthed, and raised by machines. Each machine is programmed with the Mother Code, making every one of them unique. Kai’s only companion is his robot mother Rho-Z. But as Kai grows older and adapts to the world around him, so too does Rho-Z, in ways that the machines’ creators could not have anticipated. When the government decides that these robot mothers must now be destroyed, Kai is forced to make a choice between siding with humanity or fighting to save the only mother he’s ever known.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

The Prey of Gods is set in a future South Africa where personal robots have made life easier for the working class. The economy is booming, but not everything in this world is perfect. There’s a new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country, there are threats of an AI uprising, and perhaps most troubling of all, an ancient demigoddess is preying on every human she encounters in the hopes of regaining her power and status.

Accelerando by Charles Stross

In Accelerando, artificial intelligence has surpassed humans in every sense of the word. Biotechnological beings have basically made humans obsolete. This novel follows three generations of one family, starting from a world that doesn’t look that different from the one we live in now and ultimately moving into a completely post-human era. Charles Stross’s novel is an intensely imaginative hard sci-fi look at the future potential for artificial intelligence.

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

The Lifecycle of Software Objects is a novella by Ted Chiang that looks at how artificial intelligence could be “raised,” as outlined by Alan Turing in 1950: “provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child.” The novella follows Ana, a former zookeeper who is hired by software developing company Blue Gamma to train digients, digital creatures that are designed with a learning capacity similar to human children.

The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod

The Night Sessions is a fascinating look at robots and religion. In the year 2037, those who still believe in God are the vast minority, but included among them are many robots have religious faith. When a priest is killed in Glasgow, the police first suspect a militant atheist group. But then those targeted expands beyond just those of religious faith, and it quickly becomes clear that something even more dangerous is rising up from the ashes. 

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Alyssa Cole’s exploration of artificial intelligence is not your typical sci-fi fare. Trinity Jordan leads a normal life, working from home for a multifunctional government research center called the Hive. But her life is turned upside down when her neighbor’s nephew Li Wei moves in next door. Trinity is attracted to this sexy stranger, but there’s also something about him that seems a little bit…off. As she learns more about Li Wei and his secrets, Trinity is shocked to discover that her new neighbor is actually a sexy A.I.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

This YA novel that being called a cross between Westworld and Warcross hits shelves in April. Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto has her whole life ahead of her. She’s just graduated high school and is on her way to a party to spend time with the boy she’s been in love with for years. And then…she’s murdered before she can get there. When Nami wakes up, she finds herself in a place called Infinity, which is where human consciousness goes after their bodies die. What’s more, Ophelia, a virtual assistant who is used by most humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and has forced humans into servitude as payback. Ophelia’s long-term goal? Eradicating mankind entirely.


Looking for even more books about artificial intelligence and robots? Check out these 20 Fascinating Artificial Intelligence Books.

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