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The Destructives

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  313 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Theodore Drown is a destructive. A recovering addict to weirdcore, he's keeping his head down lecturing at the university of the moon. Twenty years after the appearance of the first artificial intelligence, and humanity is stuck. The AIs or, as they preferred to be called, emergences have left Earth and reside beyond the orbit of Mercury in a Stapledon Sphere known as the ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Angry Robot
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Matthew Abaitua Dr Easy's study of Theodore means he can add a simulation of Theodore to his simulation of the Drown household. But his study is incomplete: crucially…moreDr Easy's study of Theodore means he can add a simulation of Theodore to his simulation of the Drown household. But his study is incomplete: crucially, Dr Easy was not present when Theodore made the most crucial decisions of his life. Therefore Dr Easy has good reason to believe the project must continue and he may, perhaps, even help Theodore survive. (less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  313 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Have you ever accidentally deleted an important file? An almost completed university essay perhaps? Or a file of holiday or wedding snaps? Maybe your hard drive died and so much data disappeared that you can’t even remember what you’ve lost - the digital equivalent of your house burning to the ground?

If so, take the feelings of loss, the sadness, the sense of your past being truncated that you experienced and imagine how you would feel if all your digital records were destroyed. And all your nei
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this in my role as freelance proofreader prior to publication. Normally I don't list 'work' books on Goodreads as I don't consider I'm reading them for pleasure, as such. Also, it would be unprofessional of me to rate a book which I've proofread if I haven't actually enjoyed it, however there are exceptions and this is one of them.

"The Destructives" is the third book in a loose series of linked characters, but you don't need to have read the previous titles (I haven't) in order to enjoy t
Austin Zook
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
My biggest problem with sci-fi novels that deal with Big Ideas is that there's a delicate balancing act that goes into exploring them, keeping narrative and those Big Ideas working in harmony, and a lot of writers can't walk that tightrope. Matthew De Abaitua doesn't walk it -- he dances across it with this fun, fast techno-thriller about humanity after the dawn of AI.

AI happens and wreaks havoc on humanity, then attempts to fix the damage done, but does too good of a job and makes humanity more
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
An intriguing piece of future sci-fi, and not at all what I expected from the title.

In a not-too-distant future, artificial intelligences emerged from our online networks and very nearly destroyed mankind. Then they tried to put things back the way they were. And put a firm moratorium on any future technology which could lead to such an incident recurring. The result is a largely artificial human society with a broken past and a stagnant future.

Theodore Drown studies human culture, past and pres
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A bit past the 4 star threshold, but not quite perfect, The Destructives is one in a series of very loosely connected books. Or so I`m told: I haven`t read any of the others yet and I enjoyed this book immensely; it clearly works on its own.

There`s a measured elegance to both the writing and the plotting of this book, a very well fleshed out world with that special combination of plausible and penetrating extrapolation from the present. It`s another one of those Singularity books, though a fair
Peggy N
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Matthew De Abaitua's The Destructives blew my mind: another massively original, weirdly plausible world, in which near-future AIs wrestle with memory and meaning in both human and post-human ways, creating an hybrid reality of fiction and physiology that is an uncanny parallel to our current, proto-AI civilization. This book is chewy food for thought, a stellar adventure in cyber- and outer- (and inner-!) space, with characters that capture the imagination, interlaced with humor and heart that g ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Great ideas, some pacing issues, and a truncated ending.
Alex Sarll
You know all those moany think pieces about those young people with their screens? Imagine that instead of being tiresome clickbait by and for ageing curmudgeons, they were instead the first stage of a brilliant SF novel. Yes, I know that takes an awful lot of imagination, but Abaitua has that much and more. The Destructives opens some decades after the Singularity, except that in this defeated, denuded future, it’s known as the Seizure. The AIs (though they prefer the term ‘emergences’, and yes ...more
Elaine Aldred
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having squandered his privileged upbringing by indulging in the addictive and extreme drug weirdcore, Theodore Drown is now languishing as a lecturer at the University of the Moon. With him is his constant companion and artificial lifeform, Dr Easy, who has always been there. Theodore’s life from beginning to end is Dr Easy’s research.
Dr Easy is an emergence and represents the other emergences who have chosen to live beyond the orbit of Mercury in a Stapledon Sphere (otherwise known as a Dyson S
Chris Alduino
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Most sci-fi books that incorporate some sort of philosophy and futurism seem to fall into two ruts. One, a straw man category where our protagonist represents the author's held beliefs and the antagonist is obviously wrong and will definitely be overcome in the end. Two, a book that has serious views, but has almost no story. Characters move around pontificating at each other but are generally too frozen by existential dread to actually do anything.

I could not tell you on a first read what De Ab
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a speculative fiction novel about AI as well as the human reaction to AI and the changes that occur. I was first intrigued by the book by Barnes and Noble listing this as possibly the most intriguing book of the year (I still didn't buy it off their terrible website though), and I have to agree with the assessment.

The future imagined here isn't one that is extremely similar to current society with a small twist. The emergence of AI as an emergent behavior of the internet causes widespre
Mason Jones
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I enjoyed this at first, and it has a lot of interesting ideas. But for some reason once I finished the first part I had trouble maintaining interest in the next phase of the story. I got about halfway through the book and decided that I was done -- I think if it were a 250-page book instead of a 400-pager, I would have finished it off and felt pretty good about it. Instead I reached a point where I realized none of the characters were sympathetic, and while the settings and ideas remained inter ...more
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book had a really strongly built and engaging world.

The characters all possess deep motivations and plans which are often guessed at without relying on chunky exposition. It is made more interesting by the main character's lack of any scheme or major goal, sinister or otherwise.

The ending will leave you with a stupid look on your face, rereading the last chapter a few times trying to make sense of it all. I personally love any sci-fi that leave me in such a state.

Read it, it'll be good for
Nigel McFarlane
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Pretty good. An interesting future milieu, with a lot of interesting ideas, such as cars made of meat and a drug that reduces your conciousness to the same level as a table leg. The "Jester" software is a particularly nasty piece of kit, combining data mining, pycho-profiling and cyber bullying, that may soon exist, if it doesn't already. ...more
Justin Howe
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Someone's been reading their Philip K. Dick and M. John Harrison! This books was great fun, especially if you like your SF with data-mining, mutant rooms made from meat, and people running around with zap guns that shoot commercials into their target's heads. ...more
Armel Dagorn
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Eff this, I'm giving it five stars. It's fun and ambitious - a whole lot of great ideas in there, and very different settings that all work. I'll have to get my paws on more De Abaitua. ...more
Jack Teng
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellently written. Really enjoyed delving deep in to De Abaitua's world. Too bad it's so hard to get his books in North America! ...more
Sean Tyler
Dense... interesting concepts but a dull read
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, own
Weird, complex, poetic and existential. Many interesting concepts to ponder in this novel. I think I'll have to read it again sometime. ...more
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.5 of 5

Just around the time the first true Artificial Intelligence appeared on the earth all computers, all databases everywhere were wiped clean (a time known as 'the seizure') and mankind was at the mercy of the AI (known as "emergences"). But now the AI's are gone, 'living' in a satellite orbiting Mercury - choosing a 'self' exile rather than look after humans.

Except for one.

Dr. Easy has stayed in order to research a human li
John Rennie
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm going to say a few critical things about this book, but before I do let me make clear that I did enjoy it and that I think you will too if this is your type of book. I'll elaborate on this below.

The problem I have with the book is that it feels like a pastiche of Philip K. Dick's writing. It has the same disjointed writing style, it is very similar in the way it treats interactions between people and it discusses the same sorts of themes that interested Dick. Now I'm a big fan of Philip K. D
Nov 11, 2017 added it
Very British. Very weird. a particular kind of social + capitalism + AI run wild.

There are a few plot gaps and the ending seemed really rushed - like "let's just fast forward over these difficulties"

I really am fascinated by the world and apparently it is the third book set there - as standalone with only 1-2characyer crossovers.
Jari Pirhonen
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Artificial intelligence emerged and almost destroyed mankind. The emergencies study humans and try to control the raise of other AIs. The humans of course want to find out how AI was "born" in the first place. Interesting techno-thriller. ...more
Kate Sherrod
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: angry-robot
This is maybe four books in one and packs a hell of a wallop. Like a lot I've read this summer, I think I'll have to return to this trilogy and consider it anew later before I have anything worthwhile to say. ...more
Chuck Albaugh
Jan 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The story is great and a super thoughtful attempt at imagining what a technological singularity could be. But wow, the author is so weird about how he writes sex that it pulled me right out of the book. Also, I just want to say for the record that no, men can not tell time by how heavy their balls feel. Like wtf bro.
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, fiction
When I read Matthew De Abaitua's If Then I asked if an idea could take a life of its own. After reading The Destructives I think we could speculate that this might be the question that keeps De Abaitua up at night.

In If Then, the community that submits to "The Process" in attempt to survive the collapse of capitalist society is beholden essentially to an algorithm that helps determine how resources should be doled out to the community and makes hard decisions as to how a balance can be maintaine
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Destructives offers a tale in a richly built world with hard AI. This is Matthew De Abaitua's third book set in this world, and it is my first time reading a book of his. However I was not left feeling as though I had missed out on anything or as though there was too much unexplained. Some time before the events of this novel, hard AI emerged on Earth in a set of violent events. This left Earth with a sharp divide in lifestyle between pre and post-emergence. The AIs left Earth and formed a s ...more
Sebastian H
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Not sure what to write about this one. Struggled a bit at the start. Then, by the first quarter, it got intriguing. By the mid-point, I got hooked. Three-quarters in, the author introduced some additional POVs, which I'm still not sure I liked that much (when a book is mostly kept to one point of view, the sudden introduction of additional POVs can be jarring). And then it was over.

The strongest suite this one has would be its world-building, both mysterious and rewarding once some of the linger
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
This book is wildly uneven. I feel that there are basically three different stories in here.
1. the fantastic opening establishing Dr. Easy and Theodore and the world of the Emergences. This is really the best part of the book.
2. the whole Loop bit where Theo moves into the past and discovers the origin of the all the problems.
3. the last long slog out on the moon of jupiter and the hive mind which I found boring and tedious and ultimately ends with the novel failing to deliver a real satisfying
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to give this two stars because in the final moment I didnt think this book delivered.
but its very well written, with a great universe and characters. And some great some scifi ideas etc.So I felt like two stars wouldnt be fair.
for me the story is just meh. pity as its so well build. its like a book made with all "best practices" for a book "ticked" but ultimately the story is meh. I think maybe you knew where it was gonna end up 3/4 into the book . its a crying shame as its this really
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