Enlarge / Detail from the cover of Autonomous. (credit: Will Staehle)
My first novel, Autonomous, comes out today, and I’d like to share a scene from it that I hope Ars readers will enjoy.
One of the main characters in the novel is a newly made robot named Paladin, a military-grade sentient AI on a mission with a human agent named Eliasz. Part of Paladin’s job is to gain intel from both humans and machines—though he finds social engineering far more perplexing than hacking.
In this scene, Paladin and Eliasz are tracking a notorious pharmaceutical pirate named Jack. Jack is an anti-patent activist who has become a kind of medicinal Robin Hood; she reverse-engineers patented drugs and sells them cheaply to people who can’t afford medical care. Paladin and Eliasz have figured out that Jack is selling some of her drugs to a group of pirates in Iqaluit, a city on the Arctic Sea.

To meet the pirates, Eliasz pretends to be a disgruntled ex-pharma worker who stole some IP from his previous employer and now wants to sell it on the black market. Paladin is pretending to be his damaged bot Xiu, who can’t talk.

The pirates’ lair is hidden in an innocent-looking solar farm.
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